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James Cameron on the Climate Crisis: ‘People Need to Wake the F–k Up’

This power couple has been championing environmentalist causes for decades. Suzy Amis Cameron has led a charge toward plant-based eating in efforts to reduce the dramatic carbon footprint that meat protein creates. James Cameron, the filmmaker behind classics such as “Titanic,” has woven climate-conscious themes into franchises like “Avatar.” He tells Variety the forthcoming three sequels will do the same.

The two are investors in the plant-based company Verdient Foods and contribute to numerous eco-causes, including Global Green and Oceana. Cameron does not mince words in sharing his thoughts on apathy about the climate crisis.

“People need to wake the f–k up,” the Oscar winner says. “We’re going the wrong direction as fast as possible. I like to say that we’re like Thelma and Louise. We’re driving straight toward the canyon at 90 miles per hour with the radio cranked up and the top down.”

The pair are taking a thorough stab at food sources to contribute to managing the crisis, Cameron says, because “we felt that was one of the least well served, least understood, and biggest, most important ways that we could effect change.” The director thinks renewable energy has plenty of brainpower behind it, as does transportation.

“We tried to find something that was less well understood and was a major lever that could effect change,” he says. “Food is a good one. It’s probably the second-biggest one. Well ahead is transportation. We all drive around in our Teslas and our Priuses and think we are doing a great job, but really we’re all assuaging our liberal guilt. The real solution is: change the way you live.”

Through their investment in Verdient Foods, Amis Cameron says the company is building a vertically integrated business — down to the farms it hires and the seeds it uses to make meat substitutes — that also dramatically reduces the carbon footprint of the beef industry.

“Look at the amazing success of Beyond meat and the stock market. I mean, it’s not a trend — it’s actually the way the world is going. If you look at what the beef industry is investing in and what the dairy industry is investing in: They’re investing in plant-based milk and cheeses and yogurt and meat products,” she says.

Go ahead and buy Priuses and Teslas, she adds, “but if you’re driving to McDonald’s? You’re not helping.”

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