When TV meets reality: Shatner implores LSC crowd to take global warming seriously

Famed ‘Star Trek’ Capt. Kirk tells Genius Gala audience: Through science, we can make a difference

William Shatner seemingly spent a lifetime in the heavens — at least, that’s the way the ubiquitous reruns of “Star Trek” have made it seem for generations of fans.

For Shatner, just minutes in an actual spaceship were enough to change his life. Or, at least, his perspective on the planet.

Monday evening at Liberty Science Center’s 12th annual Genius Gala, when the legendary actor was recognized with the 2024 Icon Award for his advocacy of Earth and for inspiring generations to appreciate and embrace the wonders of space through his portrayal of Capt. James T. Kirk aboard the USS Enterprise from the “Star Trek” TV series and movies, he talked of his travel aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard, at the age of 90, officially becoming the world’s oldest living space traveler.

“I saw a great deal that made me cry,” he said on a video played before an all-star crowd. “I was weeping uncontrollably.

“I realized I was in grief for what I have seen of the world. Space is magical. I am looking at space from the spaceship and all it is, is black. Death. I looked back and could see blue and beige and white — the planet calling to us. You can’t believe how small this rock we are living on is.”

Liberty Science Center CEO Paul Hoffman, in the video interview with Shatner, said LSC tries to inspire children about the sciences, really tries to inspire the next generation of scientists. He also said many people have gone into the sciences because of what Shatner has done.

Throughout the evening, clips of Shatner playing Capt. Kirk repeatedly were shown — teasing the possibility of what science can do.

Shatner said he always has been humbled by the power of science.

“There is a magic and calling for knowledge about everything,” he said. “Whether it’s the earth, sky, body or mind. Science is the building block of knowledge. Everyone that hears this message can contribute to that building block.”

Shatner said his message to people today is frantic. We all must do something, he urged.

“The children you are reaching at the Liberty Science Center, they will be the most affected by global warming,” he said. “We have to try to reach as many people as possible who can affect global warming. And we can do something about it.

“Science is the avenue of inquiry, and curiosity is the motive that makes human beings work.  We just have to do it. We have to cooperate.”