In an interview with The Big Issue, William Shatner spoke about mankind’s future, his love of danger, and his own mortality.
Many fans of Star Trek drew comfort from the fact that humans made it to the future without destroying themselves, but Shatner doesn’t think this will happen. “Fifty years ago, I read Rachel Carson‘s Silent Spring,” he explained. “I remember vividly. What she said was going to happen has happened.
“And I remember coming to England and giving an interview saying, ‘Hey, this is what’s going to happen.’ And the interview that was published was, this stupid actor thinks there’s going to be these terrible things. I remember resenting it. Because I’m an actor, can’t I have an opinion?
“What we’ve done, all of us, is bury our head in the sand. It’s so awful to contemplate what’s going to happen. And it’s going to happen.
“Recently I’ve been reading about the city of Miami thinking of erecting sea walls. All those port cities – England is filled with port cities – are going to have to erect walls, the way the Dutch have, to keep out the ocean. No question about it.
“I’ve seen maps of what the ocean is going to do to Bangladesh. There’s sixty million people in Bangladesh! It’s going to be underwater! Where are those people going to go? India already has too many people. Pakistan, are you kidding me?
“That’s going to be the way it’s going to affect the world. And it’s going to be awful.”
“The real reason everything is happening is there’s too many people,” Shatner added. “The planet can’t sustain seven billion, let alone ten billion. It’s such a complex problem. And nobody’s dealing with it. Nobody! It is going to be, not the end of mankind, but it’s going to be the decline of mankind.”
At ninety, Shatner has fewer years ahead of him than behind him, and he has thought about mortality and his own death. When his time comes, there will be no graveyard burial for the actor; he wants to be buried and then have a tree planted on top of the remains. “I am going to be a redwood,” he said. “I have a place I want to be buried, some land I own, which is just below the sequoia forest in California. Of course, you want to be a sequoia, the biggest tree. But it takes the longest, one thousand years, so a redwood will be more viable.
“I want my body, my ashes, to nourish the roots of a young tree and grow. And actually, that’s one of the answers, isn’t it? Instead of taking up land for the dead body: Oh, there goes Uncle Sam, let’s go see Uncle Sam in his grave. Then you stop seeing Uncle Sam and Uncle Sam’s body lies there moldering. And it’s of no value!
“This way you use the atoms of your body to nourish something living like a tree. I think it makes a great deal of sense. I love it. And I want to be a tree.”
Meanwhile, Shatner is living life fully. He went underwater for this month’s Shark Week. “I drive fast cars,” he said. “I go under with sharks. And my family say, don’t – for God’s sake! And I find myself doing it.
“There was a woman, they called her the shark whisperer. For the last thirty years she’s been working with sharks to the point where she could pet a shark and she carried a shark over and put it on my lap. Now I’m petting a bloody shark with my bare hands. I’m in the midst of danger. And I’m loving it.”