On 'Today': Actor Ed Norton Compares His 'Earth Hour' to March On Selma

NBC's resident Queen of Green, Ann Curry, welcomed actor Ed Norton and Carter Roberts of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to come on Friday's "Today" show to champion their cause to combat "global climate change" by getting everyone to turn off their lights for an hour as a symbolic move that actor Norton compared to the march on Selma, Alabama. Co-anchor Curry called Norton's cause, "really cool," and prompted the Incredible Hulk star to offer up the following historical comparison:

ED NORTON: I think it's, it's a call to action. It's, it's, it's-, turning off the lights won't solve the problem, obviously. But in the same way that the, the march on Selma, Alabama was a symbolic gesture for the civil rights movement I think those who care about climal [sic] change, climate change and carbon mitigation - which is a global movement - are, are trying to find ways to symbolically demonstrate the, the unity of purpose around the planet and, and really get our leadership to take action.

Incidentally this was a bit of an encore performance for Norton on the "Today" show as back on April 28, 2008 he came on to admonish U.S. citizens for falling behind China in banning plastic bags: "Yeah and when, and when China is ahead of us in banning these things [plastic bags], when other countries around the world are banning these things that we, we need to get in line with that and catch up."

For his part WWF CEO Carter Roberts implored "Today" viewers to do their part, in the following ominous call for action:

ROBERTS: Beyond that though, we're asking people to ask the institutions they work for to reduce their energy use, but write your congressman and senators and demand action on climate change now. It's, it's the biggest crisis of the 21st century.

As NewsBusters' Jeff Poor pointed out Norton has been peddling his Selma comparison on other outlets.   

The following is a complete transcript of the teasers and then full segment as it was aired on the March 27, "Today" show:

ANN CURRY: By the way we should say something here, because this is really cool. Actor Edward Norton wants you to turn off the lights. Coming next.

...

MATT LAUER: And yes that is actor Edward Norton handing out little flashlights to members of our plaza audience. And you're asking yourself, right now Jenna, why would anyone need a flashlight in broad daylight? We're gonna answer that question, coming up in just a little while.

...

JENNA WOLFE: And now the reason Ed Norton was here passing out flashlights in broad daylight. Tomorrow night to honor the 3rd Annual Earth Hour, lights across the globe will dim in more than 3200 cities from Sydney to Rome, Atlanta to Manilla, to raise awareness of global climate change.

ANN CURRY: And we've got Edward Norton. He's the official U.S. ambassador for Earth Hour 2009, and Carter Roberts who is the CEO of the World Wildlife Fund. Gentlemen, good morning and welcome.

ED NORTON: Good morning.

CARTER ROBERTS, WORLD WILDLIFE FUND: Good morning.

CURRY: This is a pretty cool project and the thing about it that's really cool is that you've made it grow. It's now, the numbers, you done this for three years in a row, is that right? Right, is that right?

ROBERTS: Yeah it went from, it went from one city-

CURRY: Right.

ROBERTS: -two years ago. 400 last year. And it's over 3000 this year.

CURRY: And that, so that the numbers of people that's really quadrupled then in terms of the number of people...

ROBERTS: Hundreds of millions of people around the world. And you're gonna see this Saturday night, the Acropolis go dark, the pyramids of Giza, the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House. All in a statement that we need to do something about climate change.

CURRY: But this is symbolic. So what is the goal of getting this message out?

NORTON: Definitely. I think it's, it's a call to action. It's, it's, it's-, turning off the lights won't solve the problem, obviously. But in the same way that the, the march on Selma, Alabama was a symbolic gesture for the civil rights movement I think those who care about climal [sic] change, climate change and carbon mitigation - which is a global movement - are, are trying to find ways to symbolically demonstrate the, the unity of purpose around the planet and, and really get our leadership to take action.

WOLFE: And you're asking people at home to shut their lights off as well.

NORTON: Yeah. Yeah we're asking people to shut off your non-essential lighting from 8:30 to 9:30 on Saturday night.

CURRY: Local time all across, wherever it is 8:30, turn it off!

NORTON: Yeah you're, wherever, when it's 8:30 for you, turn ‘em off for an hour.

CURRY: For one hour?

NORTON: One hour.

CURRY: And join the effort!

ROBERTS: Beyond that though, we're asking people to ask the institutions they work for to reduce their energy use, but write your congressman and senators and demand action on climate change now. It's, it's the biggest crisis of the 21st century.

CURRY: Well thanks for trying to do something about it. Thank you so much.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.