Mark Ruffalo’s Clean Energy Nonprofit Is Helping Fight Climate Change


What do Mark Ruffalo and Bruce Banner have in widespread? Sure, they each have the power to show right into a hulking inexperienced rage monster on display screen, however the reply we’re actually in search of is science, particularly their love of science. And whereas for Dr. Banner that science includes gamma radiation and super-soldier serums, for Ruffalo, the purpose is to usher in a clear power imaginative and prescient which may simply save the world.

The actor and activist has spent the final twenty years quietly combating local weather change together with his nonprofit The Solutions Project.

You’ve in all probability seen him on the frontlines of actions just like the protest of the North Dakota Pipeline, standing shoulder to shoulder with members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe as they tried to stop native authorities from drilling on their land. You will have heard him testify on Capitol Hill in opposition to producers like 3M and DuPont, whose cancer-linked chemical substances leached into the water provide of lots of of navy websites and trigger navy households to get sick. However even should you have been conscious of Ruffalo’s environmental justice vigilantism, you in all probability don’t know the way it began. Or why.

The reply: fracking.

Hydraulic fracking is a controversial, broadly unregulated technique of extracting oil and fuel. It’s revolutionizing the trade, making it simpler for drilling corporations to faucet hard-to-reach assets for fuel and oil, driving down costs on the pump, and creating new jobs within the course of. Nevertheless it’s additionally negatively affecting our surroundings in methods Ruffalo first feared when oil firms set their sights on fracking close to his residence in upstate New York years in the past.

As a result of fracking requires wells to be drilled hundreds of ft beneath the Earth’s floor, it has the potential to considerably harm the geological panorama. In Upstate New York, extreme flooding had already ravaged farmlands, and the addition of one other environmental disturbance simply made issues worse.

“That was alarming,” Ruffalo recalled on an episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast. “Not solely alarming to me but additionally alarming to all of the farmers who used to make enjoyable of me for speaking about local weather change and world warming.”

He began the nonprofit Water Protection to tackle fracking and different strategies of utmost power extraction – assume deep-sea drilling and mountain-top elimination mining – however he shortly realized it wasn’t sufficient to only oppose the dangerous act, he wanted to present these firms and the individuals who labored for them a solution to the bigger query of, “If not this, then what?”

“What I began to really feel was, you may’t credibly say ‘no’ to one thing until you may give you another that is the same as or higher than what’s being supplied,” he explained.

That’s how Ruffalo linked with Mark Jacobson, director of the Environment/Power Program at Stanford College. Jacobson had been researching methods to maneuver the U.S. to 100% renewable power inside the subsequent few many years. Ruffalo requested him to scale down that plan for his neighborhood within the Catskills, to present him one thing to go to native leaders and anxious residents with as a Plan B to this fracking enterprise.

“The following day in my e mail inbox I had 40 pages of what’s now a feasibility research on shifting New York state from fossil fuels to renewable power by 2030,” Ruffalo stated.

Jacobson’s thought to mix wind energy, solar energy, and geothermal energy to assist cut back New York’s carbon footprint whereas creating jobs and cleaner high quality air and water for hundreds so impressed Ruffalo that he determined to make it the blueprint of a brand new nonprofit, The Options Venture. Along with Jacobson, the actor launched the group in 2012, hoping to push out their renewable energy model to different states the place it may very well be tailored and applied.

That’s nonetheless the objective, however as local weather change has grown into an much more horrifying actuality, The Options Venture has expanded its efforts to fight it.

One of many foremost tenants of the nonprofit is this concept of assembly individuals the place they’re and uplifting these already doing the tough work. The Options Venture isn’t involved with being the face of the local weather change motion. As an alternative, the group needs to amplify the voices of marginalized individuals struggling due to our deteriorating ambiance who’ve been combating this uphill battle lengthy earlier than Ruffalo’s outfit might supply their help.

The group helps build movements from the ground up, donating the whole lot from sensible instruments – assume video tools for at-home video manufacturing – to teaching in learn how to wield social media to unfold a gaggle’s message to hiring publicists for specialised campaigns and facilitating group occasions to drum up native curiosity. Additionally they fork over loads of inexperienced to assist propel their inexperienced initiatives.

To this point, The Options Venture has distributed greater than $5 million in grants to over 100 group tasks across the nation. Just lately they established The Fighter Fund, a time period coined by Ruffalo to determine smaller, fast-acting grants of as much as $5,000 that the group might give to organizations who wanted them shortly. And as 2020 requested us all to rethink what activism seems like, Ruffalo’s group went the extra mile, trying to diversify the local weather change house in methods we hadn’t seen earlier than.

“I hate to say it, however the environmental motion is usually white, and the facility is usually with white individuals in management. And we’re seeing a shift in that,” he stated. “The extra we heart on those that’ve been dwelling with this and already growing the options, I believe the faster we’ll transfer alongside.”

The group awarded $622,000 in grants to dozens of grassroots organizations led by ladies and folks of colour this 12 months. Additionally they made a 100% Commitment to Justice pledge, promising 95% of their assets this 12 months to teams led by individuals of colour, with 80% of these additionally being led by ladies.

“It has nothing to do with self-aggrandizement or ego. It’s all about caring for the group,” Ruffalo said about his nonprofit’s objective of amplifying the voices of women and minorities within the environmental justice house. “If you take a look at Congress, it’s largely outdated white dudes. We’d like stability. Stability reveals us what we usually don’t see.”

Ruffalo has recruited a handful of his well-known mates to lend their clout – names like Don Cheadle and Leonardo DiCaprio – and he’s acquired the backing of billionaires like Jeff Bezos and tech tycoons like Elon Musk to contribute to his renewable power plan. However the largest affect he’s making isn’t essentially the funding or the publicity his star-power brings. As an alternative, Ruffalo is working to make beating local weather change appear tangibly attainable, breaking down the massive ideas and complicated science so that everybody – whether or not they’re a politician, a university scholar, a manufacturing facility employee, or sure, even an actor, can perceive why defending our planet is so essential and the way they will take part that struggle.


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