Julia Louis-Dreyfus Praises Americans Coming Together During Crisis, 'Remains Hopeful' We Can Reverse Climate Change

Selina Meyer might not have faith in Americans, but the woman who plays her, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, absolutely does.

“The American people are go-getters,” she says in the new issue of PEOPLE. “When there’s a problem, they roll up their sleeves.”

The star, 59, who is isolating in California with husband Brad Hall, 62, and sons Henry, 28, and Charlie, 23, has been watching the coverage and witnessing the determination shown by people as they power through the coronavirus pandemic. It’s one of the reasons she believes climate change can also be overcome.

For example, she cites, simple changes make a big difference. “We can all recycle,” she says. “We can use less plastic. We can waste less food. These are basic things we can all do.”

And as everyone focuses on an economy decimated by the pandemic, she points out that going green is increasingly a money-saver. States like Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma get much of their power from wind, not fossil fuels, saving consumers. Small purchases like energy-efficient light bulbs can also have an impact. “The choices you make when you go to the grocery store or Walmart influence the marketplace,” she says.

And on working with Louis-Dreyfus, McCarthy adds, “Julia is the epitome of a person who can break through the partisanship, talk about it as a normal fact of life, and engage people, and grabbing solutions that are available to us, and making climate just another fact of life that we all have to address, and whose solutions would be great to take up.”

McCarthy’s colleague at the NRDC, Dr. Tina Knowlton, one of the leading experts on the effects of climate change and health, points out that “19 of the 20 warmest years ever recorded by human society have happened since the year 2000. In the U.S. we see an average of 65,000 heat-related emergency room visits every year.” In addition, Dr. Knowlton says, “Extreme heat not only directly harms and sometimes kills people, but those rising temperatures can affect infectious diseases, especially ones that are carried by insects. The American Lung Association estimated in their 2018 report that 141 million Americans, it’s like four in 10 people, live in counties that have unhealthy levels of ozone, smog or pine particle pollution.”

That is the bad news. But Knowlton adds she also believes there is time to reverse everything. “This is a challenge we all face and we can absolutely 100 percent do something about it to help ourselves get to a better place.”

Says Louis-Dreyfus, “We can do it. It’s a very doable situation. And it’s a great opportunity for all the countries on this gorgeous plant that we live on.”

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