Victoria’s Calum Worthy takes global stage with Al Gore

From the moment Calum Worthy began playing to an international audience when 24 Hours of Reality went live from Liberty Square Park, New Jersey, at 3 p.m. Monday, he said his thoughts were never far from home.

It was in Victoria, after all, where the actor of Disney’s Austin & Ally fame first became passionate about climate-change activism before his showbiz career took off.

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“It was when my [Claremont] high school teacher Mark Neufeld walked into our classroom and said: ‘There’s something we don’t talk about in our curriculum that much, but I really need to talk to you guys about it,’” recalled Worthy, 25. The film and TV actor still keeps in touch with his Grade 9 teacher, who inspired him to become a climate advocate after screening Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth in class.

The actor never imagined he would some day be sharing the global stage with Gore, the former U.S. vice-president and Climate Reality Project chairman.

“Al Gore is one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever known,” said Worthy, who is hosting the social-media segments for the sixth edition of the climate-crisis event. “There’s no doubt we will find a solution to this problem. It’s just about how and when. He really believes in people, and that is so impressive.”

24 Hours of Reality is being beamed to 100 countries through broadcast partners and online platforms including Facebook, Periscope and Livestream, and via 24HoursofReality.org.

One hour is being devoted to each of the world’s 24 largest carbon-emitting countries, including China, India and Russia, with live performances and appearances by celebrities, environmental experts and media stars.

The Canadian segment (Monday at 6 p.m.) focused on “a new era of climate-savvy leadership” under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and recalled the devastation of the Fort MacMurray wildfire, an example of what can result from human-caused climate change.

Worthy was joined by Disney star Peyton List (Jessie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) as his co-host for the first two hours.

Off the air, he’s monitoring posts and tweets about “why you care about the planet” with the #24HoursofReality hashtag.

He is appearing on camera with Gore for 10 minutes at the top of each hour, with updates on his online findings every half-hour.

“No matter where you are in the world, you can participate online,” Worthy said. “I’m going to pick as many posts as possible and air them on live TV.”

He described as “phenomenal” the response from celebrity friends when he reached out to them online to participate.

His “co-stars” include Ryan Reynolds, Edward Norton, Jon Bon Jovi, Carole King, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Bryan Cranston and Steve Carell, who will make his appearance by video.

On Sunday night, Worthy joined Gore and others at a private dinner in New York. Although there was some discussion about how last year’s telethon was cut short by the Paris terrorist attacks, the consensus was they wanted to move on.

“We just hope we get to do the whole 24 hours this year,” he said. “With the Paris Agreement signed, sealed and delivered, hopefully we can put it into action, and hopefully this event will inspire people.”

While Gore had what he termed a “lengthy and productive” session Monday with U.S. president-elect Donald Trump, who has denied global warming is human-caused, Worthy said he can only hope progress will occur.

“I just hope [Trump] listens to the right people,” he said. “The reality is renewable energy is the way of the future, whether you believe in climate change or not.”

“I think it’s very important to see what you can do on the local level to make sure you keep your mayors in check. That will help no matter who the leader of your country is.”

To watch live: https://livestream.com/ClimateReality/events/6608800

mreid@timescolonist.com

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