Climate Hero Q&A: Aidan Gallagher
In World War Zero's new Climate Hero Q&A series, our team goes one-on-one with some of the most influential voices of the climate movement.
We begin with Aidan Gallagher, a 17-year-old actor, singer-musician, and activist. You may know him as "Number Five" from the hit Netflix superhero series The Umbrella Academy. But he's also been a UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador since 2018, making him the youngest Goodwill Ambassador ever designated in the UN System. Aidan is incredibly active in the climate movement having worked with several environmental organizations, including Waterkeeper Alliance, Vulcan Productions, and Oceanic Preservation Society.
WW0: As a global village, what's our biggest opportunity to reverse climate change?
AG: Our biggest opportunity to reverse climate change is for countries and businesses to present a united front against climate change via technical innovation. When we, the people, demand better from our governments and from our corporations, great change will be on its way.
WW0: What aspect of climate change do you think isn't talked about enough?
AG: The dietary impact. More than 50% of greenhouse gases are caused by the animal agriculture industry. If individuals wish to cut down their impact on climate change, the easiest and most impactful way is through their diet. Unfortunately, diet can be a touchy subject because of its place in culture. Because of this, its contribution to climate change is often purposely overlooked. I first started by trying a trend called "Meatless Mondays," where for one day a week I wouldn't eat meat and by doing this I was cutting down my personal impact. I hope to inspire others to do the same.
WW0: Are you working on a specific project that you'd like the world to know about?
AG: I am in the early stages of planning a reforestation initiative that I hope will motivate others and will be a significant step in mitigating climate change. The logistical elements of putting together something like this can get fairly complex, so I can't say much more about it right now as it's currently in its formative stages, but I am hopeful that I will be able to share more news soon.
WW0: How is climate change approached in your state? The good, the bad, and the ugly…
AG: I live in California. The Central California Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, supplying fruits, vegetables, and nuts -- this takes a lot of water. The dilemma is that California's been in a drought for several years, which means that our prime export as a state requires a resource that we don't possess. And this speaks to a larger issue of Californians being desensitized to the drought as it really doesn't seem to be impacting anyone's behavior. I think that in order to conserve water we need to get to a place where drought-tolerant landscapes with drip irrigation systems are required across the state. On a positive note, I’m excited that California is banning sales of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.
WW0: Who would be on your list of the top climate heroes (beyond Greta)?
AG: Al Gore because he's been fighting against climate change and fighting for climate education for years now. I also admire how Boyan Slat is utilizing his ingenuity to combat plastic pollution in the oceans. Though I don't think you need to make these big environmental gestures in order to be a climate hero. People who make small changes at home by voting with their dollars or trying to live more sustainably are climate heroes. That’s really what I’ve been trying to get across. Small efforts at home build up.
WW0: Was there an event or cause that compelled you to fight climate change?
WW0: How do we bring more people together around climate change?
AG: I find that the most effective way is to bring emotion into it; to make it personal for people; to show them how climate change is going to affect their immediate world for the worse. However, when you explain the negative side of climate change, the risk is also that you may scare people away. Because of this, I advise explaining the problem and the solution as simply as you can. You need to make it accessible for people to take action against climate change -- that will give them comfort.
WW0: What do you think is the Biden Administration's biggest opportunity to lower emissions?
AG: The President has said our country's infrastructure needs to evolve to include electric power stations for electric cars. I think this will be a vital step in America's transition to a greener economy.
WW0: If you had an audience with leaders of the world’s most polluting nations, what would you say to them?
AG: For the most part, the entities responsible for destroying our environment are actively involved in covering it up. Thus, I think the best results would come from monetarily incentivizing polluters to do the right thing. If we make it profitable to go green, we will get a lot further than inviting polluters to do the right thing.
UN: Within Our Grasp - How the Paris Agreement will help tackle the climate crisis, April 20, 2021.
CNN: interview with Aidan Gallagher, September 26, 2019.