Action4Climate Video Contest Inspires 5 Day Filmmaking Journey
In just five short days, my Montgomery College sociology classmates and I made a video to promote awareness about climate change. Our inspirational professor, Dr. Leszek Sibilski, embedded this question in us: "How are you going to shape society?"
Unable to understand at the time what he meant by this, I ignored it. Now, looking back on what my classmates and I accomplished in the span of just two weeks, I understand what he meant. "You have the power to change the world" he told us, and I now believe him. So, as a class of about 30 students, we ventured out of our comfort zones to unite and do something meaningful.
I, like most of my classmates, was unprepared for the first day of filming. The extracurricular journey we were about to embark on was right in front of us, yet most of us didn't do anything to get ready for it. I thought, "It won't be hard. We just have to point a camera and talk, right?" I was wrong. After several people blurted out "Shit!" and "Wait, can I redo that?" while filming, I knew we were in for a long ride.
There was uproarious laughter that took over the room each time someone stuttered or didn't make sense, which came about every two minutes. We definitely had a lot of work to do.
During the second day of filming, we were fortunate enough to have a field trip to the World Bank. One by one, each student arrived in business attire. After going through security, we heard a wonderful presentation by Angelica Silvero, head of the World Bank speakers bureau, about how the World Bank is fighting to end poverty. She also enlightened us about some of the issues associated with climate change. It was something that really resonated with me. After we finished touring and eating lunch, we planned to go outside and take a few shots for our video, and then call it day. Unfortunately, weather was not on our side and a downpour kept us inside.
Feeling optimistic, the majority of our class stayed to take footage outside anyways. We were so dedicated to the project that we even went to the White House to get a shot that we needed for our video. Being in D.C. ended up being a major perk for our project, despite the rain.
Having finally gotten more serious, we started off the third day of filming by redoing almost everything we had tried to do the first day. Everyone gave one or two personal statements to the camera about how climate change is or would affect them. Amazingly, mostly everyone completed the task without mistakes. Instead of laughing and goofing off after someone would finish, we'd clap for them and moved on.
We got the majority of our footage from this filming session and our trip to the World Bank. But then it started to sink in that we only had two days left to get everything finished.
The fourth day came. Getting used to being filmed was still an adjustment for us. The pressure was on. One girl was so stressed by her fear of speaking that she started to cry. We had to go over things again and again.
Professor Sibilski ended up asking us fake questions like "What's your favorite meal?" and "Do you like the color red?" just to make people feel more comfortable raising their hand and talking in front of the camera, which surprisingly worked.
On the fifth and final day, we were at the bittersweet end. My classmate who was upset just the day before, felt empowered after completing her line. The whole class cheered her on. After that, we didn't have much to film so we went and took a group picture by the Montgomery College sign outside. We left the classroom knowing we had not only done something together, but we did something to try and better this world.
Although some people weren't taking the project as seriously as we needed to in the beginning, we have come to realize just how much of a negative impact climate change is having. It affects everyone, all of the time, and is only getting worse.
So, to answer Dr. Sibilski's initial question, we all hope we have impacted our community in a positive way by working together to raise awareness about climate change. We are the future, but we must remember, we wouldn't be anything without the world we live in.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
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As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
Time for Action<p>I have spoken to many scientists, particularly federal scientists, who are eager to turn the page so they can hurry back to the work they had been doing before this administration, but I urge caution in assuming that things can be "normal" again.</p><p>Before Trump, I naively thought the scientific integrity policies established during the <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/19/scientific-integrity-policies-update" target="_blank">Obama administration</a> would be sufficient. I never imagined that any administration could so willfully ignore and attack expert advice and evidence that is intended to protect us and our public lands.</p><p>I have personally witnessed how hard our federal scientists work. They put in long hours with minimal pay (far less that what they could get if they worked in private industry) to pursue one simple goal: to make things better for the nation.</p><p>We need stronger scientific integrity policies to protect these people and their work. But more than that, we need stronger scientific integrity laws because they also benefit society.</p>
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