On Monday evening, The Natural Resources Defense Council honored Wendy Schmidt, Eric Schmidt and Arianna Huffington at its 13th annual "Forces for Nature" benefit.
At the event, Arianna said, "There's been an explosion of truly medieval thinking, and not just on the fringes."
"Over the last 20 years, the work of the NRDC has become all the more critical. The fight now isn't just against pollution and the polluters, it's against the emergence of a very vocal group of modern flat-earthers who deny that there's any problem at all." Arianna continued, "It's really like a house is on fire, and we don't have to just fight the flames, we also have to fight a very loud group of bystanders who are trying to convince us the house isn't on fire at all, we're just being alarmists."
Host Seth Meyers had a comedic spin on climate change, welcoming everyone "to the 13th, and based on recent weather patterns, possibly final, "Forces for Nature" benefit."
The NRDC event honored Wendy, Eric and Arianna for their work using technology and media to spotlight important issues, including environmental crises and solutions. They "have given people around the world the tools to report news, to find common ground, to jumpstart change," said NRDC President Frances Beinecke.
Arianna praised Wendy and Eric, whose "passion for the work, for the environment, has been truly infectious." The duo launched The Schmidt Ocean Institute, an organization providing ocean-going vessels for marine research. As Executive Chairman of Google, Eric has lead the group's efforts to boost energy efficiency and take on new renewable technologies. As founder of both The 11th Hour Project and Climate Central, Wendy most recently supported a competition to encourage the development of new oil spill cleanup systems.
As Eric and Wendy accepted their award, Wendy said, "It's very humbling for us to be honored by a group as powerful as the NRDC, whose legal force is on the front lines every day, fighting for the natural world that has no voice."
Arianna was celebrated for prioritizing green solutions. Since launching HuffPost Green in 2008, the page has grown to become one of the most visited environmental sites on the Internet.
Upon receiving her award, Arianna thanked the NRDC and went on to challenge members of the media. "In the pursuit of balance, many of the media have forgotten that the highest calling of journalists is to ferret out the truth ... not every story has two sides, and the truth is not often to be found in the middle, actually. Very often it's solidly on one side or the other. The Earth is not flat, for example. Evolution is a fact. And global warming is real."
The event embraced sustainable practices by featuring cruelty-free centerpieces, repurposing the stage backdrop into tote bags, offering a menu that follows the "100 mile diet" philosophy, and avoiding disposable utensils or plastic water bottles.
View event photos below, and scroll down to watch the full version of Arianna's speech:
WATCH the full version of Arianna's speech: