Thom Yorke, Radiohead frontman, Environmentalist

Thom Yorke is lead singer in the popular UK alternative rock band Radiohead. Over the years, this rock group has gracefully combined its love of eclectic music – ranging from hard rock to minimalist electronic sounds – with an outspoken voice for various social causes. One of the biggest causes on Yorke and Radiohead’s agenda is a greener, more environmentally friendly world. Yet, despite his outspoken activism, Yorke realizes he is not, and never will be, holier-than-thou. For instance, this ambassador of sorts for the charity Friends of the Earth realizes how large concerts, tours and festivals use a whole lot of fossil fuel, not to mention the mountains of unrecyclable waste produced. Even though he doesn’t drive a large automobile, he is not entirely innocent. He, like everybody else, leaves a carbon footprint. He merely wants to make his print smaller, and encourage others to follow in his (smaller) footsteps.

As an example of Yorke’s activism, the Radiohead front man posted a note to President Barack Obama on the band’s website concerning the Alberta Tar Sands project. Key to Yorke’s opposition to this project is construction of the Keystone XL, which is expected to be a 1700 mile long pipeline. It reaches from the Alberta Tar sands (hence the project name) all the way to some oil refineries stationed at the Gulf of Mexico carrying Earth-hurting oil. He titled this post “Real vs. Astroturf,” and urged the American president not to “press one of THE big red climate self destruct buttons.”

Yorke is by no means a one-protest-trick-pony, however. Back in 2010, York also utilized the Radiohead website to post what he titled, a “Sticky Tar Chart Rant” to protest the Canadian government’s aim of increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at the 2010 Copenhagen Summit. Prior to that, Yorke obtained access to the COP 15 climate change talks in Copenhagen in December of 2009 by posing as a member of the press. This was the same year he also declared his support for 10:10 percent, a campaign to motivate people to act positively toward climate changes by using less carbon emissions.

This artist outspokenly supports Friends of the Earth, a group that aims for a world that’s healthier and more just. To do this, Friends of the Earth seek to alter the views of politicians and members of the media, in order to ultimately enact environmentally-friendly policy changes. One big area of focus is targeting the businesses that create environmental damage. By stunting polluters’ economic growth, the group can also slow down and reduce environmental degradation. Both Yorke and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood performed at a Friends of the Earth benefit in 2006. More information about Friends of the Earth can be found here. By the way, Yorke is much more likely to work with organizations he trusts, such as Friends of the Earth, rather than partnering with politicians. In 2006, Yorke was in the news because he turned down Prime Minister Tony Blair’s invitation to talk about climate change by saying Blair had “no environmental credentials.” Another environmental organization Yorke supports is CND (or Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament). This group supports unilateral nuclear disarmament for the United Kingdom, as well as disarmament internationally. One such way this group hopes to attain its goals is through advocating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. More information about CND can be found here.