Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Sunday Times - Britain Thandie changes her car

The Sunday Times
April 02, 2006
Thandie quits her 4x4 to be a green goddessJonathan Leake, Environment Editor
THANDIE NEWTON, the British star of Crash, the Hollywood hit film, has become a crusader against gas-guzzling cars after a Greenpeace activist slapped stickers on her 4x4 accusing her of adding to global warming.This week, Newton, 33, will make her support for the anti-emissions campaign public by writing to fellow Hollywood stars and other celebrities who drive such vehicles, asking them to join her in switching to greener forms of transport.In the Oscar-winning movie Newton played the wife of a black film director whose life changes for ever after their car is stopped by a racist and violent police officer played by Matt Dillon. One of the film’s themes is the way people’s lives can be suddenly altered by such random encounters.For Newton, the proof that life can imitate art came just a few weeks after the film’s British release last autumn, when her car was targeted in northwest London by Cat Dorey, a Greenpeace activist.Dorey’s simple act of planting a sticker on Newton’s BMW X5, warning “This gas-guzzling 4x4 is causing climate change”, and describing the damage done by such vehicles, has prompted the star to change her life.“My concerns for the environment had been growing for a long time but I had not connected them with the car I drove. When I saw the sticker it just connected all the dots up,” said Newton.The actress was so shocked to find that her car could emit twice its own 2.5-ton weight in carbon dioxide for each 12,000 miles driven that she decided to get rid of it. However, Newton went further. First she replaced the X5 with a Toyota Prius, a low-carbon car partly powered by batteries.Now she is to begin her letter campaign by writing to stars such as Tom Cruise, with whom she appeared in Interview with the Vampire and Mission: Impossible 2; and Will Smith, with whom she is working on a new film, The Pursuit of Happyness.In the letter Newton describes how she has replaced her X5. “I loved my X5, loved driving it, and what’s more believed it was safer for my kids, until I discovered the truth about its impact on the environment,” it says.“As you know, extreme weather events are on the increase. The Greenland ice sheet is melting, and sea levels are rising. This climate change, which is largely brought on by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, seriously threatens generations to come.“The hazards I thought I was preventing by driving an SUV are nothing compared to the hazards our children and grandchildren will face if more is not done now.”Other stars targeted by Newton include Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie; Jamie Oliver, the chef; Chris Martin, the Coldplay musician; the singer Barry Manilow; Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United and England footballer; and the Hollywood stars Kevin Costner, Bill Murray, Meg Ryan, Jack Nicholson and Ben Affleck.Newton’s green conversion — she is also committed to buying organic food and clothes — is a coup for Greenpeace. It had already commissioned Peter Wells of Cardiff University’s automotive research centre to carry out a study into the damage done by large 4x4s.The study, Offroad Car, Onroad Menace, will be published this week in time for Newton to enclose it with her letter. In the report Wells says large 4x4s use around 300% more fuel than an efficient family car and produce three times more greenhouse gases.He also finds that they are three times more likely to kill a pedestrian than an ordinary passenger car and cites American studies showing death rates are up to nine times higher for the occupants of cars hit by such vehicles.Dorey herself is amazed to have converted a Hollywood star to the green cause. She had been out with two friends putting warning stickers on “gas guzzlers” when they spotted Newton’s car.“We picked on the really big, bad-looking vehicles and slapped them with stickers. The BMW X5 was like a red rag to a bull. It is one of the most environmentally damaging vehicles on our roads,” she said.“Celebrities have such a big influence on public fashions and they have to realise that when they are seen clambering out of these climate wreckers it sends out a really bad message.”However, some disagree. Richard Williamson, the deputy editor of 4x4 magazine, said it was wrong to assume that all such vehicles were gas guzzlers.“Some four-wheel drives are very economical,” he said, “and there are even some low-carbon hybrid-engined versions now reaching the market.”


Angie said...

I've said this on another board, but I think Thandie should make a commercial instead of sending letters to celebrities... She should become a Pirius spokeswoman...

quinn said...

Pirius? whats this i ask 4X4?