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Mark Ruffalo takes saving the planet seriously. When he’s not occupied on missions with Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, Ruffalo — a.k.a. The Hulk — is doing his own work, saving earth’s most precious resource: water.
The Hulk’s Real-Life Mission
Living on a small farm in Upstate New York, Mark Ruffalo came face-to-face with oil fracking for the first time. A natural gas company drilled a test well near his home, and at first, like many people, Mark admits he was hopeful, thinking fracking would be a great source of clean energy.
The more he educated himself on fracking, the more his eyes were opened to the multitude of fracking-related problems the gas industry was not talking about.
At that point, Mark devoted time to researching and learning more about new methods for extracting energy, including fracking, tar sands, and mountaintop removal, and he found they all had one thing in common: each of these methods resulted in the contamination of water.
It struck me how foolish we were being with our water, and that there should be an organization that focused solely on these issues — right here in the USA.
“Now that we are in the throes of climate change, widespread drought has made our fresh water sources even more precious,” says Mark. “It struck me how foolish we were being with our water, and that there should be an organization that focused solely on these issues — right here in the USA.”
“Contamination by the fossil fuel industry is putting our waterways and water systems at risk,” says Mark. “I wanted an organization that would stand as a hub for the people dealing with these diverse problems. There needs to be someone doing this work, and doing it with a lot of energy and focus.”
Out of this realization, Water Defense was born.
Education is the mother of change.
Impacted by the stories of people who have lost their water due to fracking operations near their homes, Mark wanted to create a way for their stories to be heard. “I knew that if I could provide a platform to get their stories out, and get others involved, together, we could make real change happen,” he says. “Education is the mother of change.”
In an interview with Mark Ruffalo, I asked him questions about his work with Water Defense and how others can get involved.
TwitChange: Why is the work of Water Defense so important to you?
Mark Ruffalo: Simply put, water equals life. Our water is an incredibly precious resource. Without it, life will cease to exist on this planet. Only three percent of the world’s water is fresh, or drinkable. Of that small amount, only one percent is accessible to humans, making water extremely valuable. Defending water is important to all of us, but many people don’t have the opportunity to have their voices heard. I am in a position to help shed light on some of the issues that matter — that is why this work is important to me.
Now that I have been in this for a while and have participated in open dialogues on widening social media platforms, I have seen how each of us can help usher in new ideas and solutions to the challenges that matter to us all. We have come a long way since I started doing this a few years ago, and we are gaining a lot of momentum now.
TC: As an actor, how have you been able to use your celebrity to further the mission of Water Defense?
MR: I am interested in compelling stories. I love to learn. I aim to constantly pursue new ways to stretch my understanding of our world and of myself. Water Defense happens to be a personal focus that goes beyond my day job, but I am able to apply the same storytelling skills to Water Defense as I am to acting. I can use my celebrity to get people involved defending their own water. I have also been able to direct the media to places they wouldn’t normally look, or even be interested to look. This is also my way of sharing the great fortune bestowed upon me with the people and fans that have supported me for so many years.
TC: How do you divide your time between your Hollywood career and your work with Water Defense?
MR: Ha! That is a challenge at times for sure, and one that has been a little tough at times. Fortunately, I have put quite a bit of thought into this organization, and I have surrounded myself with people who have connected not just with our stated goals, but with the spirit I like to bring to the organization. We are a committed bunch, and we have devoted ourselves to a singular special interest: water. This work has come to mean a great deal to me; it carries with it a strong responsibility, but it is the part of what I do that will have the best outcome for the future of my kids.
One of the most important tools in your kit is your voice.
TC: If there were one thing for our readers to take away about Water Defense, what would you want them to remember?
MR: That they can make a difference. One of the most important tools in your kit is your voice. If you educate yourself and are not afraid to engage with others in lively conversation about the things you care about, whether it is at the dinner table, around a water cooler at work, or on social media, take the leap. Have good dialogue with someone who doesn’t agree with you and see where it takes you. No matter what ideology one may hold, at the end of the day, there are few who do not hold water in high esteem.
I hope your readers come to appreciate how their water is so essential to every part of their daily lives. Water is easily forgotten, and yet, it gives us life. It is so much a part of us that we forget to honor it, to appreciate it, to think of it as something of great value. To make that shift in your thinking is a big step toward insuring that water remains accessible, clean, and wholesome. Beyond all that, water is simply beautiful to behold. It’s fun, it’s refreshing, it’s sensuous, invigorating, and just plain cool. I, for one, don’t know what I would do without it. Water itself is a great wonder of the world, and it deserves our care.