‘You can’t
breathe money’

says Steven Seagal

Big business is taking over the world, believes Steven Seagal, the Hollywood actor. He says the most important environmental issue is to ‘separate the relationship’ between ‘big government and big business in the aspect of them being able to buy and support each other so that our environment does not mean anything any more’.

The actor, who has produced and starred in two action movies with an environmental theme – On Deadly Ground in 1994, and Fire Down Below three years later – adds that he is ‘very active in doing what I can to protect the environment’.

‘I am the only actor in the history of Hollywood that I know that has done two major motion pictures that are devoted to the environment,’ he says. ‘I found them both and rewrote them both and shaped them both and made them both in hopes that I could do something to make the world a better place and bring people’s awareness about the environment to a higher level.’

Meanwhile, outside his work, he has also campaigned with lawyers and environmentalists over specific projects. ‘I think that I have shut down more toxic waste plants and different dangerous polluters than just about anyone else. I did it by exposing people, flying in to make speeches to educate people and getting people to file lawsuits. Its a never ending battle and I will not stop fighting.’

Globalization in itself is not the problem, he believes. ‘It’s fine for big business to merge and get bigger, as long as they can start to realize that you can’t breathe money, you can’t drink money and you can’t eat money.

‘In the end they are going to trade off having a lot of money for selling themselves and their children’s future down the river to the point where the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat is all so tainted that you are going to have nothing but cancer in everyone and the life span will go down and all of the modern medicine in the world won’t be able to help them.

'My desire and my dream is somehow to be able to circumvent big business so that they cannot buy the government and therefore buy legislation. We have to be able somehow to increase the awareness of people so that they are not duped by candidates running for electoral positions.’

Steven Seagal was born in Detroit – ‘motor city, which gives you good reason to have concern for the environment as a child’ – and has made 18 films in a career spanning more than 20 years. In On Deadly Ground – which he says is recognized as ‘the most important environmental film ever made in the history of Hollywood’ – his character defeats a corrupt oil executive who is trying to steal Inuit land to pollute it with chemical waste: the film ends with a speech by Seagal on environmental protection. Fire Down Below features the dumping of toxic waste in abandoned coal mines in Appalachia.

The actor has come under criticism for the violence in his films, but he rejects this as ‘stupid’. He says; ‘people love to live vicariously through someone who can, even in fantasy, let the bad guys get their come-uppance. They are good fun, they bring people a lot of joy and oftentimes also I get a message in there’

This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Toepfer | Looking through new lenses | Development with a human face | Trade can transform | Achieving win–win–win | People | Promises to keep | As precious as gold | Expanding the circle | At a glance: Globalization, poverty, trade and the environment | Acting local | Cooperation is catching | Books & products | Getting through the bottleneck | Investing in the environment | Bishkek Mountain Platform | You can’t breathe money | We will succeed | Fair trade? Fair question