2006: The Year in Green

From business to politics to pop culture, the environment took center stage in 2006

By Victoria Schlesinger and Sarah Parsons

Wired, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, Elle.... It was as if every magazine editor in New York got the same memo—time to do a special issue on the environment. Like they say in the business: Three makes a trend.

Books like Douglas Brinkley’s The Great Deluge (about Hurricane Katrina) and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (a natural history of our meals) addressed the monumental and minute ways that the environment drives our lives. An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s companion book to the film, was a New York Times bestseller.

Movie houses teemed with real-life eco-dramas, from Gore’s surprise blockbuster An Inconvenient Truth and Spike Lee’s HBO film When the Levees Broke, to Sony Pictures’s murder mystery Who Killed the Electric Car? (above) and the animated adventures of nearly extinct creatures in Ice Age II: The Meltdown.

Groups such as The Dixie Chicks, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, and Pearl Jam pledged to offset the carbon dioxide generated during their tours through donations to environmental groups and clean-power companies, while Radiohead singer Thom Yorke’s solo album about global warming, The Eraser, hit number two on the Billboard 200 chart. And the ubiquitous Al Gore made a surprise pit stop at the MTV Video  Music Awards to spread the warning about global warming.

Web Activists Log On
The Internet offered a flood of ways to learn about and support environmental causes, notably websites for calculating carbon footprints and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. Blogger Amanda Congdon, above, of Rocketboom mini-fame, made a pilgrimage across America via hybrid car in search of eco-enlightenment. And MTV promoted its “Break the Addiction” campaign with a comprehensive website about stopping global warming.

Beyond Hemp
Eco-fashions evolved from patchouli to Prada this year, with actress Natalie Portman (left) promoting Italian microfiber high heels, Levi’s introducing 100% organic cotton jeans, and the debut of bamboo-and-hemp silk in an Adidé Jan Klingberg gown worn at the Academy Awards (and later sold at auction).

La-La Land's Green Envy
When they weren’t adopting African babies, Hollywood celebrities made the environment their cause in 2006. Actress Rene Russo touted indigenous plants in lieu of water-hogging lawns; Angelina Jolie’s lesser half, Brad Pitt, a fan of sustainable design, chaired the jury for a green architecture contest that drew 3,000 applicants. Droves of celebrities arrived at this year’s Academy Awards in hybrids; among them were Naomi Watts, Joaquin Phoenix, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Felicity Huffman, Frances McDormand, and David Strathairn.

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Issue 25

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