Ryan Reynolds Wants to Be a Real-Life Hero

08/19/2010 AT 10:00 AM EDT

When Ryan Reynolds was filming his superhero flick The Green Lantern in New Orleans, he was inspired to spring into a different kind of action: activism.

Exploring the Gulf region plagued by spilled oil was an eye-opening experience for the leading man, 33. "I flew over the Deepwater Horizon site and saw what looked like the opposite of all the news reports – it looked more like somebody had spilled water into a Gulf filled with oil," Reynolds says.

Wanting to make sure similar spills never happen again, the actor has teamed with the Natural Resources Defense Council for a PSA to encourage the use of alternative energies.

"What we're doing is literally the same thing cavemen did," he says. "We set things on fire to produce energy. There are so many viable alternatives."

He adds: "I see this whole thing as a wake-up call, a chance to shift to cleaner energy and build a greener economy."

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