In honor of Rolling Stone’s Climate Crisis Issue, we asked artists to contribute messages about what they, their governments, and everyday people can do to stand up to the threat of climate change. From England to Jamaica to the United States, we are hearing from artists and activists around the world about what we can do locally, globally, and everything in between.
James Cromwell has had too many acting roles to list: New fans will recognize him from Succession; many will remember him from Six Feet Under; but his most notable may be his Oscar-nominated portrayal of Farmer Hoggett in the heartwarming family classic Babe (Cromwell transitioned from vegetarianism to veganism while making the film).
His résumé on environmental activism, however, is equally long; having become acquainted with political organizing during the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, he’s now active about animal rights and fossil-fuel issues.
Cromwell tells the story of a campaign that he, along with a “small group of concerned, ordinary people who live in the Hudson River Valley,” became involved with starting in 2012. They organized to oppose the construction of a fracked-gas-fired power plant in Wawayanda, New York. He tells the story of demonstrating, picketing, marching, and testifying, to little avail.
“Finally, we committed an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. Three of us locked ourselves together to block the entrance to the construction site. We were arrested,” Cromwell explains. He ended up spending a few days in jail in 2017, after refusing to pay a small fine. The Competitive Power Ventures plant was built — but not without a fight.
Cromwell calls on the U.S. government to do more to curb the effects of climate change, like passing the Green New Deal, ending subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry, and ending the embargoes against Cuba and Iran.
“What we need is a paradigm shift. A paradigm shift is a revolution. It’s like Bernie’s, only more so. Einstein said we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” he says. “The problem — be it climate change, COVID-19, our addiction to fossil fuels, the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex and the injustice system that feeds it, racism, world hunger, wealth inequality, wars of aggression, the health care crisis — every problem has, at it’s source, unbridled, rapacious, predatory capitalism.”
“What can people do in their everyday lives to address climate change?” he asks. “The simple answer? Stop eating animals.” Cromwell has been arrested multiple times for protesting with PETA, and points to methane emissions and their contribution to climate change.
Cromwell has an overarching message to regular people looking to take action: “Choose an issue. Inform yourself. Discern the truth. Communicate it. Organize in your community. Think globally, act locally. Dare to take effective action. Listen to your conscious and follow your heart. Question the prevailing wisdom. Resist, goddamn it. Resist.”