I always get wonderfully excited when I see talented celebrities using their platform and their voice to support issues concerning wildlife and the environment. Which is why I’m so delighted to share my recent interview with Umbrella Academy star and the United Nations’ youngest ever ambassador, Aidan Gallagher for National Geographic Kids magazine
I chatted to 15-year-old Aidan Gallagher backstage at the Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in London last year, of which he was one of the events’ hosts. I wrote about the importance of the conference and what happened in a blog post here.
Discussing his role as a UN Ambassador and his extensive work campaigning for wildlife and to raise awareness of the effects of climate change, I was struck by Aidan’s passion for the spreading the word about the many complicated environmental issues our planet is facing, and his campaign work to tell others of his generation about it.
I’d definitely recommend following his Instagram page (if you aren’t already) to see more of his campaign work. I’ve shared a snippet of our interview below, if you’d like to learn more:
Kate: When did you first become aware of problems with our environment?
Aidan: It started because I have a love of the oceans. I grew up surfing in Los Angeles, USA, and as a surfer you’re very conscious of keeping the seas clean – if pollution enters the water, you see the trash right there beneath your feet!
So the more I researched, the more I supported protecting the waters. From there, I got into things like climate change and wildlife – and eventually the United Nations (UN) reached out.
Why are you in London today for the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference?
Aidan: Most people don’t know just how big the illegal wildlife trade has become, and how much poaching is actually going on.
It’s happening at such a large scale that some of these species [such as rhinos and pangolins] are near extinction. If we want to experience wildlife throughout our lives – and not just read about it in stories as we’re growing up – we need to take action and try to stop it!
What are your thoughts about plastic pollution?
Aidan: If things continue the way they are, it’s thought that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish – and most of it is single-use plastic.
So another easy way to make a difference is to use metal cutlery instead of plastic utensils for your lunch. By simply using reusable and sustainable solutions, you can have a huge impact on the environment.
Another issue you’re passionate about is climate change. What simple things can people do to make a difference?
Aidan: A surprising thing I learned was how nearly half of climate change is caused by the animal agriculture business. Farmers cut down trees to clear space for cattle to live and to grow the crops that feed these animals. Cows produce A LOT of methane gas, releasing greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere and making it warmer.
We also need trees to absorb the greenhouse gases that fuel climate change. So a very easy change to make is to eat less meat. Start with one thing – try Meat Free Mondays, where you don’t eat meat for one day each week.