Cameron Russell: Why I Took It Off For Climate Change

Our guest blogger is supermodel Cameron Russell, a junior at Columbia University and the organizer of the “Supermodels Take It Off For Climate Change” video for the movement.

Right now, preventing catastrophic climate change is just about the most important thing any one of us should be working on right now. organized a worldwide day of action which took place on October 24. The goal of their effort was to educate and generate attention around the setting of a 350 parts per million CO2 target goal for the meeting to be held in Copenhagen in December. I know something about getting attention and decided to contribute to their effort.

Watch it:

In the history of the world, all five mass extinctions have been accompanied by massive climate change, so we are facing an incredibly serious threat. In fact, we are technically in the sixth mass extinction right now, and it is the first mass extinction being attributed to humans.

The whole “Supermodels take it off for climate change” project happened from start to finish in a little under two weeks and 300 phone calls–who knew production was so complicated! All the girls — Rachel Alexander, Shannon Click, Hanne Gaby, Olya Ivanisevic, Alla Kostromicheva, Heidi Mount, Crystal Renn, Rianne Ten Haken, and Nicole Trunfio — are my friends and loved shooting the video for a good cause, so that part was relatively easy to pull together. But let me tell you who was really responsible.

Indirectly there are three people responsible for this video: Tibor Kalman, Bill McKibben, and Robin Chase:

My all-time hero Tibor Kalman showed the world the ability of mass media to convey serious images and create real discussion (think 90’s Benetton advertisements of people with AIDS). Climate change, which is often seen as very political or scientific, needs to be made a people’s issue. My hope is that this ad helps re-brand environmentalism.

Bill McKibben, advocating scientist James Hansen’s target of 350 ppm CO2 to avoid catastrophic effects from climate change, leads the 350 movement — a widely successful environmental action campaign that remains in close touch with science and politics.

Finally Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar and Goloco, is my mom and raised me in a household that didn’t drive when it could be avoided, bought used clothes and almost nothing else, and led our family and friends by example showing us that it doesn’t matter how much you have. She also taught us to appreciate our personal and unique strengths, skills and experience, and figure out how to put them to good use.

There were at least 26 other people directly involved in making it. Eleven other models donated their free time, a precious day off for these top girls who work nearly every day from their late teens to as late as their early 30’s. Some of them have professional lives outside of modeling too. Cystal Renn just put out a book called Hungry about her transformation into a plus size model — it’s been incredibly successful and earned her a spot on Oprah. Nicole is the host of Bravo’s “Make Me a Supermodel” show. Heidi is the proud mother of two year-old Liam.

Then there was a whole team of people that made the girls look amazing: a stylist, Shandi Alexander, and her two assistants, a hairdresser, Kevin Ryan, and his two assistants, and two make up artists, Jesse Lawson and Fara Homidi, who all donated their free time as well. Then there was our amazing director Damani Baker, the three guys who assisted him, and Andrew Zuckerman who took still photos. There was my co-prodcuer Alex Vlack who also let us use his studio and turn his office into a wardrobe room. Finally there was Christana Tran and Heather Hughes who work at Women and Supreme model management that helped provide designer clothing and coordinate models.

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