By Frances Beinecke
Nickelodeon just announced that Leonardo DiCaprio will receive the first-ever Big Green Help Award during Saturday's broadcast of the Kids Choice Awards. I have known Leo for almost 10 years, and I am delighted that his environmental advocacy will be recognized this way.
Efforts to solve global warming don't often get air time next to performances by the Jonas Brothers, appearances by Zac Efron, and explosions of green slime.
But it is appropriate that Leo's work to curb climate change gets recognized in an event seen by millions of kids. After all, theirs is the generation that will feel the brunt of global warming unless we do something to stop it now.
And Leo, who is an NRDC trustee, is helping do that. Leo has taken on the issue of global warming in a way that is absolutely critical to getting a whole new generation of activists inspired and involved.
He has been committed to this issue starting early on with Vice President Gore. He remained tenaciously focused on it during the dark days of the Bush era, and his 2007 award-winning documentary, The 11th Hour, showed audiences not only the dangers of unchecked climate change, but also the role people could play in stopping it.
Now the Obama administration is proposing a national law to limit global warming pollution, but Congress will only pass it if there is a groundswell of support from the American people. That is exactly what Leo is helping to build, and I am very grateful for his efforts.
I understand that Cameron Diaz will be handing the award to Leo on Saturday. She too deserves to be singled out for her environmental leadership. As an NRDC member, she has drawn national attention to the urgent need to save endangered wild landscapes.
But there is one other party that deserves acknowledgment here: Nickelodeon. I applaud the network for putting environmental action front and center in the programming of their most profitable and visible arm.
Like Leo, the network is alerting a whole new generation to the value of taking care of our planet. A Big Help indeed.