Monday, December 11, 2023

‘Cheers’ Stars Reunite for Ocean Conservation: ‘Climate Change Can Undo Literally Everything’


Celebrities came out to support ocean conservation organization Oceana at its fifth Rock Under the Stars event last Saturday.

While Hollywood continues to try and stay afloat amid the concurrent Writers Guild and Screen Actors Guild strikes, there was no shortage of star power at Oceana’s fifth Rock Under the Stars event hosted at the Los Angeles residence of Oceana board president Keith Addis and his wife Keri Selig.

Celebrities including Cheers co-stars Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson, Gladys Knight, Mary Steenburgen, and Sam Waterston, came out to support the event.

Before the festivities began, Addis addressed the crowd, emphasizing the urgent challenges facing both the oceans and the planet. “This is a challenging time for oceans and it’s a very challenging time for the planet,” he said. “You don’t have to look far to find out what’s happening with the fires, the terrible tragedy in Lahaina; everywhere you look, the 100 degree water in the Caribbean. It’s all hands on deck now.”

The evening’s agenda of urgent ocean conservation and climate action was underscored by the devastating fires in Maui last week.

Photo courtesy Motoki Tonn

Danson, a long-standing member of the Oceana board and an advocate for ocean conservation for more than four decades, spoke passionately about the urgent need for action.

“We do what we do because things are going to be getting worse and worse,” Danson told The Hollywood Reporter.

“One of the reasons we keep doing what we’re doing is with climate change, the waters are heating, the fish are swimming north, corals are dying,” he said. “Climate change can undo literally everything — 100 degrees off of Florida [this summer]. We’re here, this is not a warning.”

Danson was moved to start supporting Oceana during his early years on the sitcom Cheers.

“I was being paid a lot of money and I thought, ‘I need to be responsible in some way,’” he said. In the years since Danson first lent his support, Oceana has protected nearly four million square miles of ocean. It takes on threats including overfishing, plastic pollution, and habitat loss.

“The more you learn, the more you realize what’s at stake and that it is solvable, but it’s a heavy lift unless we all do it together,” Danson said.

ocean sanctuaries
Photo courtesy Ishan

“This is my two cents — it almost feels like yes, let’s keep fighting climate change, obviously, but I’m tired. I don’t want to convince anybody anymore who doesn’t believe in it,” Danson said. “I will have a conversation with them that goes like, ‘All right, forget what you call it, how can we help you when your neighborhood floods? What do we do now, because this is going to be happening, whether you believe it or not. How do we help you with your forest fires and your drought? How do we mitigate what’s already happening?'” Danson emphasized that the fight to protect the oceans is solvable, but it requires collective effort.

Waterston, the board chair of Oceana, also spoke at the event, urging attendees to take immediate action. “The message of the weather that we’ve all been having is hurry up; it’s not give up, it’s hurry up,” he said. “And what Oceana has developed is a method and a strategy to get practical results one after another after another, pile them on top of each other after 20 years, and lo and behold, you’ve made a gigantic change in what is 70 percent of the earth’s surface and therefore you’ve made a gigantic change for life in general.”

Danson’s sentiment was not without hope, though. He said, “I don’t have hope that it’s going to be a rosy reversal and all of that. I think there’s some very serious consequences of us not paying attention as a world are upon us. You always have to have hope — what are you doing to do, sit around and be pessimistic until you die? No, you be hopeful, you be helpful, you try to nurture and educate people, and do the best you can.”

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