Actor Rainn Wilson played the funny and lovable sidekick, Dwight Schrute, to Steve Carell’s character, Michael Scott’s boss, in the hit TV series “The Office.” In real life, Wilson is also funny, as we’ve recently discovered in a telephone interview, but he’s also serious about environmental issues.
Wilson, 54, has produced a YouTube series called “An Idiot’s Guide To Climate Change,” which includes visits to Iceland and Greenland and interviews with climate activist Greta Thunberg along with some prominent climatologists. Following are edited excerpts from a more extended conversation.
What initially attracted your attention to climate change?
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and did a lot of backpacking and camping as a kid. I loved nature. Later, I was scared by the things I started reading about climate change. And the only thing I did was send out angry tweets to the climate deniers. I needed to do more than that. I was introduced to this woman, Dr. Gail Whiteman, from a non-profit organization called Arctic Basecamp.
She invited me to camp in Arctic research tents at the World Economic Forum in Davos [Switzerland]. Later, she asked me to Greenland to visit some scientists to talk about climate change. I brought along my digital media company, SoulPancake, and we did a super-low-budget, DIY documentary series called “An Idiot’s Guide To the Earth Climate Change to help get information out there in an accessible way.
Where would you like to go to the series, too? Siberia?
Maybe Siberia is a good idea because you have permafrost melting, which is scary. That large percentage of the Earth remains frozen all year round, and that’s been the way it has been for 100,000 years. Now that it’s melting, a lot of methane is coming up, which’s worse than CO2. Again, I don’t know if it’s worth flying around to all these places, leaving such a large carbon footprint to tell the story. I don’t know that.