Recently, I was super stoked to publish an article in SynBioBeta News. I wrote about the importance of science-friendly public figures in improving the public’s perception of scientists and research. Scientists aren’t great at talking to people, historically — so I put the focus on likeable, trustworthy STEM-oriented politicians to come out of the woodwork. Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel — these are the kinds of names that come to mind.
I also talked a little about celebrities, who can have a big impact on people’s world views. This can be bad, like when Jenny McCarthy publicized the whole vaccines-cause-autism thing. But it can also be good, like when Leo DiCaprio used his Oscar platform to talk about climate change and the harm we’re doing to indigenous peoples.
Celebrities can be the heroes of science, if they put their visibility to good use.
An article in Nat Geo today highlights another celeb who’s doing just that: Jack Johnson, beloved singer-songwriter, Hawaiian dreamboat, and founder of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, which supports environmental education in Hawaiian schools and communities.
Jack’s most recent album, All the Light Above it Too, was largely inspired by his experiences seeing the devastating levels of plastic pollution in the ocean. In his interview he discusses how he learned about the dangers of micro-plastics — the song “Fragments” is literally a reference to plastic fragments. He talks about wanting to preserve his upbringing in an innately environmentalist family in Hawaii. He mentions small changes we can all make to better the health of our planet.
It’s great to see science-friendly celebs getting the spotlight — so let’s be on the lookout for more!