Hollywood heavyweights will travel to the Academy Awards in serious green style this year- thanks to Global Green. Penelope Cruz and Leonardo DiCaprio co-chaired the pre-Oscar party, with a special performance by Maroon5. Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, Orlando Bloom, Marcia Gay Harden, Diane Kruger, Joshua Jackson, Walton Goggins, Milla Jovovich, Lisa Ray, Michael Mann, Chevy Chase, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Bahar Soomekh, and LA City Councilman Eric Garcetti all hit the symbolic "green carpet" to help the cause. I had the opportunity to check out some of the cars, rub shoulders with CEO Steven Schneider of ZAP cars and talk with Matt Peterson CEO of Global Green USA.Matt Peterson stressed that the idea behind the event is to have celebrities use their significant spotlight potential to highlight important solutions to global warming:
"We need to create a value shift- we have to reconnect with the earth, we have to create a sustainable secure future, we have to act and live differently. But, how do we communicate this in an age of increasing number of information sources like Treehugger, Grist, and CNN? We need to communicate through the mass media... Being here in Los Angeles an opportunity exists to work with the entertainment community- work with very informed, intelligent, thoughtful, people, who realize that they have the ability to shine a light on the science and solutions." Said Matt Peterson.
"Global warming is threatening us all" said Penelope Cruz, co-chair of Global Green's Pre-Oscar party. "Fortunately, there are many simple things we can all do such as driving greener cars or changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs, which can dramatically save energy and reduce global warming pollution."
"I am proud to support Global Green and help them educate the public about climate change" said board member Leonardo DiCaprio. "It's urgent that we all take steps in our lives to reduce our impact on the environment."
One of those steps for me was to check out the electric cars. The sexiest car there was the Tesla- but alas, no test drives or even test rides were permitted. They seemed a little smug, with their sexy car, fast growing company, and people literally throwing money in their direction- I guess I would be smug too... but I was able to take a test drive in the admittedly more humble (and affordable) ZAP car with CEO Steven M. Schneider as my passenger. While I only ran over a few orange cones, Steven was nice enough to share with me his insights into the electric car market.
ZAP has been in business a long time working to get to the point where their cars would catch the market. Their press release has them selling (not just taking orders but delivering actual vehicles) with increases in revenue about 300% from the previous year. Today it is possible to operate an electric car at about 1 cent a mile-with far less routine maintenance. The market is heating up, with new electric car proposals every month, Steve even hinted that ZAP has a few tricks up their sleeve, with cars that cost the equivalent or less of gasoline vehicles, with incredible performance characteristics. The electric cars produced by ZAP today can be plugged into any normal outlet in your house, or work. Better yet, new battery technology means you can custom 'pimp' your cars performance, for range, power, and charge times. I walked away from all of the electric cars feeling like my next car will certainly have a plug.
Talking with Matt in more detail about Global Green and more serious issues I asked him if the solutions highlighted in the U.S. are applicable to other nations around the world.
"New Orleans is as close to the developing world -unfortunately- that we have in this country right now." Said Matt, and further explained how Global Green USA is increasingly working with domestic and international groups to focus resources on where they need to go. From Mercy Corps in New Orleans to Green Cross International in Bolivia, Global Green incorporates itself as best as possible with other organizations to get the job done.
One of the interesting aspects of Global Green is their work in nuclear weapons proliferation. I asked Matt about his view on nuclear energy:
"Nuclear power technology is not a viable solution to global warming", he further explained how waste, proliferation, and security are the primary concerns with modern nuclear energy that we still don't know how to solve. Matt however was not familiar with Thorium nuclear energy.
When it comes to energy, Matt struck me as very pro-solar.
"Whether it is corn based ethanol or nuclear power, what are the unintended consequences? So far the unintended consequences of solar energy have not been that significant...we haven't had significant investment nor have we had great marketing minds out there trying to figure out how to sell solar. I think If we move capitol, increase subsidies in that direction, we can really radically improve the efficiency of solar and lower the cost."
Lastly, I asked Matt a question close to my own heart- would we ever be able to ditch the cars entirely? Will L.A. ever be a walkable city?
"I would love to see a walkable LA in the future....When I first move to LA I lived in Thousand Oaks for a while, and felt like a criminal for walking the streets...I'm a fan of increased subway and light rail in this city." Said Matt.