The Golden Globes are usually all about who wore what and who did or didn’t get snubbed. Or so it seems. I never watch it. Ha! Perhaps I should’ve this year because something else was front and center: climate change and the Australian bush fires.

A few celebrities used their time on stage—whether it was accepting an award or giving one—to highlight the climate crisis, particularly the way it’s currently manifesting in the form of flames in Australia. And they didn’t stop there, laying out what we must do to address it. After all, the climate crisis is already here for those who have lived through such terrifying fires. And that includes even famous people.

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There was actor Russell Crowe who couldn’t be in California to receive his Golden Globe for his role in The Loudest Voice, a drama focusing on former Fox News CEO and alleged sexual harasser Roger Ailes (oh, and Ailes is also a huge purveyor of climate denial), as he dealt with the tragic bushfires in Australia, where he lives. Instead, actress Jennifer Anniston gave a speech in his place:

“Make no mistake. The tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based. We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way, we all have a future.”

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He wasn’t the only Australian resident who shared a message on the climate crisis, either. Actress Cate Blanchett, whose role in the mystery movie Where’d You Go, Bernadette landed her a Globe nomination, used her time on stage to also discuss the deadly fires in her home country and thank the volunteer firefighters who are putting their lives at risk to combat the flames.

“I wanted to do a special call-out to the volunteer firefighters who have been at the center of battling the climate disaster that is facing Australia,” she said. “And of course, when one country faces a climate disaster, we all face a climate disaster. So we’re in it together.”

Indeed, we are. However, my favorite words were from actor Joaquin Phoenix, who left with a Golden Globe for his role in Joker. Say what you will of the film, but Phoenix’s speech didn’t hold back. And celebrities with their mansions, bougie ass outfits, and luxurious lifestyles are in many ways fueling the climate crisis. Phoenix got into all that, calling on the rich and famous to do better.

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“It’s really nice that so many people have come up and sent their well wishes to Australia, but we have to do more than that,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful gesture. Together, hopefully, we can be unified and actually make some changes. It’s great to vote, but sometimes we have to take that responsibility on ourselves and make changes and sacrifices in our own lives. I hope that we can do that. We don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the awards sometimes or back.”

Agreed! Private jets emit up to 40 times more carbon pollution than their commercial counterparts to say nothing compared to even less carbon-intensive forms of getting around like public transit. Given rich people’s outsize carbon footprints, it’s just one area they could cut back.

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Speaking of, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association also served a vegan, plant-based meal—a chilled beet soup and wild mushroom risotto—which was a first for any awards show. I applaud the Golden Globes for highlighting the 7.1 gigatons of carbon a year are released each year from raising and eating livestock. But this is as good a time as any to remind you all that though individual actions—even those taken by celebrities—play an important role in addressing the climate crisis, veganism alone won’t save us from climate hell. Still! We need systemic changes to our food system (and transit and, well, every system), and the vegan meal is a good reminder of that.

This mushroom risotto looks so damn good.
This mushroom risotto looks so damn good.
Photo: Getty
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The rich and famous have a tremendous platform to not only raise awareness on climate but to also take action. Sure, that may involve donating millions of dollars as Leonardo DiCaprio likes to do, but it’s also about taking steps to do your part and changing the system at large that encourages this type of wasteful behavior in the first place.

Yessenia Funes is a senior staff writer with Earther. She loves all things environmental justice and dreams of writing children's books.

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