Our hosts Rev Yearwood and Mustafa Santiago Ali celebrate World Environment Day with a lively discussion about what our oceans mean to our planet, communities, and health with
Author, Activist, and Adventurer David Helvarg, and Global Earth Day Vice President Valeria Merino. Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen sits down with our hosts to discuss the critical legal battles to protect our clean water and air, act on climate change, and ensure future generations have a healthy planet to thrive on.
Donnell “Trip” Van Noppen serves Earthjustice as its President, leading the organization’s staff, board, and supporters to advance its mission of using the courts to protect our environment and people’s health. After earning degrees from Yale and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Trip clerked for a federal district judge from 1980–82. He then practiced law in Raleigh, NC, from 1982 until 1997, in a litigation practice emphasizing civil rights, employment, environmental, and toxic tort cases.
In 1998, Trip joined the Southern Environmental Law Center and became director of that organization’s Carolinas Office. Both in private practice and at SELC, Trip has handled a variety of environmental cases and cases involving access to the courts. He was named North Carolina’s “Air Conservationist of the Year” in 1996 and has taught environmental justice as a visiting scholar at Duke University. From 2005–2007, Trip was Earthjustice’s Vice President for Litigation.
David Helvarg is Executive Director of Blue Frontier and the author of six books: Blue Frontier, The War Against the Greens, 50 Ways to Save the Ocean, Rescue Warriors, Saved by the Sea and The Golden Shore. He is editor of the Ocean and Coastal Conservation Guide, organizer of ‘Blue Vision’ Summits for ocean activists and the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards (co-hosted with Wendy Benchley), and winner of Coastal Living Magazine’s 2005 Leadership Award and the 2007 Herman Melville Literary Prize.
Helvarg worked as a war correspondent in Northern Ireland and Central America, covered a range of issues from military science to the AIDS epidemic, and reported from every continent including Antarctica. An award-winning journalist, he produced more than 40 broadcast documentaries for PBS, The Discovery Channel, and others. His print work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, LA Times, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Popular Science, Sierra, and Parade. He’s done radio work for Marketplace, AP radio, and Pacifica. He has led workshops for journalists in Poland, Turkey, Tunisia, Slovakia and Washington DC. He is a licensed Private Investigator, body-surfer and scuba diver.
Valeria Merino is an environmental lawyer by training and a social entrepreneur. She has worked in many different areas of social change, developing a multidisciplinary approach to resolving social issues. Early in her career, she spearheaded a successful national justice reform in Ecuador that empowered citizens and social organizations to demand from the government and local authorities the recognition of their civil, economic and environmental rights. Simultaneously, she was part of the core leadership that grew Transparency International into an anti-corruption global force serving on its global board. Later, she was the leader of Ashoka’s largest global program, identifying and supporting social entrepreneurs with innovative system change ideas in more than 90 countries. At Ashoka, she also created the Rural Innovation and Farming Program with support from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2015, after graduating from the Founder Institute, an incubator of tech companies, she joined the Skoll Foundation, based in Palo Alto CA, where she worked with some of the best social organizations in the world to accelerate their efforts to change systems. She is particularly motivated to work on designing and implementing solutions to complex social problems, and building and sustaining global networks and collaborations to make it happen.
At Earth Day Network, she is already putting her experience to work. She is developing collaborative strategies and executing actions to further build Earth Day Network and its 50th anniversary into the platform that will unite the voices of citizens and institutions around the globe, into the global environmental and wellbeing movement that is required to save the planet and life on earth. She has been leading at EDN the End Plastic Pollution Campaign.