Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Emma Thompson: Please stop destroying our planet

updated 9:08 AM EDT, Mon October 6, 2014
  • Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson went to the Arctic to campaign against drilling
  • She said seeing the evidence of disappearing sea ice was devastating
  • The size of the Arctic sea ice has been decreasing between 3.5% to 4.1% per decade

(CNN) -- When actress Emma Thompson went to the Arctic with Greenpeace, Hugh Grant teased her fashion sense via Twitter. The actress, posing in a puffy green jacket for photos, admitted in her reply that she looked "like a sofa."

But the two were pushing a much more serious message: Save the Arctic.

Thompson -- known for her roles in Howards End, The Remains of the Day and Harry Potter -- joined Greenpeace crew in August aboard the activist ship Esperanza. The trip, which took in polar bear habitats and scientific research stations, reignited Thompson's decades-long interest in climate and conservation.

Thompson, who traveled to the Arctic with her 15-year-old daughter Gaia Wise, told CNN she had been shocked by what she'd seen.

"Our economic systems at the moment are very short sighted, they don't take any notice really of what's going to happen in future generations," she said.

Thompson said seeing the evidence of disappearing sea ice was devastating. "You can see how the glaciers have reduced in size and shrunk because there's 50 to 80 meters of watermark on the valley walls," she said.

Speaking for the Save Arctic campaign, Thompson challenged governments to stop drilling and industrial fishing in the Arctic.

"If we destroy [the Arctic], we are going to end up with a planet that is no longer liveable on, and we will have nothing, we won't have any economies to sustain."

Actress Emma Thompson joined Greenpeace crew aboard the activist ship Esperanza. Actress Emma Thompson joined Greenpeace crew aboard the activist ship Esperanza.
Emma Thompson in the Arctic
Emma Thompson in the Arctic Emma Thompson in the Arctic
NASA video shows ice melt in Antarctica
Arctic blast creates river of ice boulders

Arctic sea ice keeps the polar regions cool and helps moderate the global climate. The Arctic sea ice reflects around 80% of sunlight that strikes it back to space, keeping the planet cool. If the ice melts, most of the sunlight gets absorbed in the ocean and temperatures rise.

The size of the Arctic sea ice has decreased between 3.5% to 4.1% per decade between 1979 and 2012, according to World Wildlife Fund statistics.

But the Arctic also holds the world's largest untapped oil and gas reserves, making drilling and exploration a lucrative prospect.

Rosneft and Exxon Mobil last week announced a discovery of a new oil field in the Arctic, while Royal Dutch Shell submitted plans to restart exploration in Alaskan Arctic.

Environmental activists like Thompson are campaigning against the drilling, saying any spills or accidents would have disastrous impact on the planet.

Thompson said her daughter's response to seeing the destruction was "like we're being attacked by Martians, only we're the Martians."

The thought encapsulated what was wrong with the world's response to climate change, Thompson noted. "I thought it was so brilliant because if we were attacked by Martians, things would happen very, very fast.

"We would all get together, governments would get together and we would say 'what are we going to do,'" she said.

Read more: World has lost more than half its wildlife in 40 years

Part of complete coverage on
The Business View
Nina dos Santos is a news anchor and correspondent based in London. She is the host of CNN International's show The Business View.
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Usually, airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields and refineries, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
updated 8:36 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Europe's deteriorating relationship with Russia has hit the region's growth, even before new food sanctions begin to bite.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Russia's beef with the west has escalated after the country banned foods from a host of Western nations including the U.S., Australia, Canada and those of the European Union.
updated 11:21 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
For months, the West has struggled to take a strong stand against Russia for its incursion into Ukraine. Now, its facing the reality that it will need to suffer too.
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Are Scotland and England better together or apart? Nina dos Santos explores the long relationship ahead of Scotland's vote for independence.
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made history as the country's first directly elected president but his ambitious economic plans could be scuttled by the region's volatile geopolitics.
updated 6:16 AM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
Turkey's economy, fattened with foreign investment during its boom-times, has stalled amid warnings its model is unsustainable.
updated 12:31 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
The West has slapped stringent sanctions on Russia in response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. But is it still doing trade with Russia in weapons?
updated 7:00 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Forget the new black. This is the real black. You can't see it, or figure out its shape, it's the darkest material in the world.
updated 12:02 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Jibo robot is designed to be an organizer, educator and assist family members. CNN's Maggie Lake met him and says she was impressed with his skills.
updated 12:34 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
With cyberattacks on the rise and here to stay, it's a modern-day challenge for everyone to get smarter about preventing them.
updated 4:44 PM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
Britain will launch the world's first spaceport outside the U.S., with first space tourists blasting off from the UK as early as 2018.
updated 6:44 AM EDT, Thu July 10, 2014
Imagine a skyscraper that cleans the air. You won't have to wait long -- two will soon be built in China.
updated 11:29 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Iraq produces 3.3 million barrels per day and has the world's fourth-largest oil reserves. But the current crisis is putting all this in danger.
updated 11:27 AM EDT, Fri June 27, 2014
Who will lead the fractured European Union for the next five years? The question has caused weeks of bickering in already fractured EU.
updated 8:22 AM EDT, Wed June 18, 2014
Sandwiched in between Iraq and Syria, Jordan's destiny seems to be one of a constant struggle for survival. John Defterios explains.
updated 9:14 AM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
The gas standoff between Russia and Ukraine could have a knock-on effect on Europe. Explore this map to find out why is the EU nervous.
updated 6:58 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Bob Mazzer has photographed inside London's Tube network for 40 years. He's captured history.