Thomas King

Bestselling author, gold medal Olympian and award winning actor; I’m absolutely none of these things! I am, however, a passionate social justice campaigner, animal rights advocate and nature fanatic, and Victoria’s 2015 Young Australian of the Year.

I first became involved in campaigning in 2010 at age 13, when I founded SayNotoPalmOil.com – a site that today informs over half a million consumers annually from more than 200 countries about the impacts of unsustainable palm oil development in South-East Asia. I’ve since held positions within organisations like Oaktree, the Jane Goodall Institute Australia and the youth division of the United Nations as an advocate in environmental preservation, animal protection and poverty eradication.

I’ve been lucky to experience and see some amazing things through my work over the last 6 years. From living with indigenous communities in the heart of the Bornean jungle to establish conservation projects; to leading a campaign that raised 1.6 million dollars to alleviate extreme poverty; I even volunteered as a journalist at the London Olympic Games to report on athletes from developing nations so that their families at home could track their performance.

After graduating high school last year, I was fortunate enough to receive the titles of Victorian Young Australian of the Year and VCE Leader of the Year last year, and I’m now 19 and work as a speaker and campaigner at Animals Australia – Australia’s foremost animal protection organisation. It’s my belief that no matter who you are or what your age, everybody has the ability to create a profound impact.

Seeing through the haze: Why we must protect Borneo’s forests

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I recently returned home from South-East Asia after presenting at the 2015 Asia for Animals conference, as well as visiting friends of mine who work on the ‘frontline’ in wildlife protection.

Anyone who’s visited South-East Asia recently will tell you that there’s one thing you immediately notice — the smog. Indonesia is burning, and the consequences of widespread forest fires across much of the nation is being felt heavily across Borneo and many other parts of South-East Asia.

Forest fires have become a quick and easy method of clearing forests in the region. The deforested land is often used to grow plantations that produce palm oil — an ingredient found in about half of all supermarket products throughout Australia, Europe and Northern America.

The impacts of Indonesia’s fires aren’t just being felt locally. As forests our the lungs of our world, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, burning them will continue to boost the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere in more ways than one — which is the last thing our planet needs.

Amidst the thick haze, however, I witnessed once again Borneo’s natural beauty, and I wanted to share some images I took. Seeing these incredible fauna and flora, and momentarily forgetting about the smog, offered a critical reminder of why we need to protect this precious place — and why destroying it for the sake of profit can never be right.


If you would like to learn more about the issue of deforestation for palm oil, you might like to head to my site — SayNotoPalmOil.com

What an amazing experience!

It was a bitter sweet moment yesterday as I departed the group in Narsarsuaq three days early. It’s been a short but remarkable journey this past week working with four fellow young changemakers from around the globe and a small team of producers, videographers and Professor Jason Box. The last few have been both surreal and eye-opening, and I’ve gained experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

The short film that will be created from this trip will be shown at COP21 – the next global UN climate summit in Paris in December. The team will then come together in the Arctic again next year to shoot an 8-part TV series. I can’t wait — see you all soon!

Greenland’s natural beauty – up close

On our first visit to the tree planting site in Narsarsuaq, we were given some time to explore the area. The surroundings are so magnificant — from the grand mountain ranges to the turquoise blue waters peppered with icebergs — so I quickly whipped out my camera to capture the location. I soon realised I’d spent so much time appreciating the remarkable landscape that I hadn’t looked down at my feet to examine the finer beauties of this unique place — so here are a series of macro shots I took on the surface of Narsarsuaq in Greenland.

Our common humanity

On boarding our flight in Nuuk yesterday morning, we noticed a small face peering through the circular plane window. She was a sweet little girl – most likely two years old – travelling with her mother to Kangerlussuaq.

During take off, the little girl burst into tears. She was terrified of the fast propellers on each side of the small 30-seater aircraft. In her state of fear and distress, I showed her some pictures on my phone and she began to relax. I found out her name was Livi.

Livi is an indigenous person, or ‘Inuit’, of Greenland. She didn’t speak any English (and I can’t speak a word of Greenlandic!), but we ended up playing for over an hour. Livi’s fear completely dissolved once we began playing games.

It’s experiences like this that remind me of our common humanity – the desire we all share to be happy and connected, and live free from fear and suffering. Meeting Livi also reminded me of the reason we are on this trip. Addressing climate change is a responsibility shared by people of all ages and nationalities, and a challenge we can only overcome by working together. Through recognising our shared humanity, we can dissolve cultural barriers and unite to create the kind of world we want to live in.

Because at the end the day, no matter where you come from or what language you speak, we all seek to live safe, happy and free lives – and tackling our climate crisis is fundamental in fulfilling that desire.