Alfonso and Alfredo Cuarón at 'Green Day Venice': Is Fiction Needed to Tell the Facts?
At the Venice International Film Festival this week, a captivating dialogue between two brothers—Oscar winning film director and president of the festival jury, Alfonso Cuarón and renowned environmental scientist Alfredo Cuarón set the scene not only for a fascinating series of events on how to increase sustainability within the film industry, but also for a whole new perspective on how we might solve the climate communication challenge.
Film4Climate One-on-One discussion between Alfonso and Alfredo Cuarón with Donald Ranvaud (middle) as moderator. Photo Credit: Max Edkins / Connect4Climate
“We’re about to live another Copernican revolution—a unique change," said Alfonso Cuarón. "It’s about empowering the next generation—we don’t have the solutions. We’re doing all we can with the knowledge we have, but the next generation will have different platforms to work from—they will be the ones to create new economic models."
The two brothers were in agreement that climate change must be tackled by each of us in our daily lives. Changing to efficient lightbulbs or reducing waste, for example, should be just common sense. But we cannot stop there, we have to go further.
Alfonso Cuarón answers a question presented by Donald Ranvaud (right). Photo credit: Max Edkins / Connect4Climate
For Alfonso, this means changing completely our economic model and establishing a new one. For Alfredo, who has worked for more than 30 years with communities in rural Mexico, it means understanding our environment as a living, fragile and complex system and making sure we work hard to respect the interconnectivity of all living things.
“We must remember that environmental impact eventually has a social impact," said Alfredo Cuarón. "What happens to our forests and rivers, for example, inevitably affects people as well.”
Both Alfonso and Alfredo agreed that the film industry can set an example by establishing sustainable guidelines for production and they stirred the capacity audience with tales of both concern and lack of concern for the environment within the industry. Reflecting on how productions could also integrate the issues into scripts, they both welcomed the possibility, but Alfonso reminded everyone that the creative process relies on artistic inspiration to tell impactful stories. He also railed against some disaster films that are jumping on the bandwagon of climate change with little substance.
“What is going on in film production when it illustrates the apocalyptic world is akin to pornography with little understanding of the science involved," continued Alfonso Cuarón. "Films such as these can have very negative effects."
Alfonso Cuarón emphasized the need for an economic transformation. Photo credit: Max Edkins / Connect4Climate
Alfredo reminded all that scientific research must combine with art to communicate more effectively and if this is also linked to collective action right now, we will be able to create solutions.
“We all want peace and a better world—everybody does, but change is built step by step. Big changes have only happened a few times in history. It’s now time for another big change. The future is now,” said Alfredo Cuarón.
Alfredo Cuarón highlighted the links between environmental and social impacts. Photo credit: Max Edkins / Connect4Climate
The event was organized by Film4Climate, a global initiative led by the World Bank Group’s Connect4Climate program in partnership with Green Cross Italy, the national branch of Green Cross International, an environmental non-governmental organization founded by Mikhail Gorbachev and active in more than 30 countries. The aim is to drive consensus across the film community on a shared set of global standards to sustainably produce motion pictures and participate in encouraging climate change awareness and action.
Before the discussion, winning films from the Action4Climate competition, designed to give voice to young aspiring filmmakers, were presented. The competition attracted more than 250 entries from more than 70 countries and highlighted the commitment of young creative people to take action on climate change.
Later in the day, Green Cross Italy hosted an animated discussion on how film producers and writers can best influence governments and constituencies in the race to limit the effects of climactic instability. Guest speaker Olivier René-Veillon from France’s Île-de-France Film Commission effectively described how the EcoProd program in France encouraged sustainable film making with considerable success over the past few years.
Green Cross Italy then presented the jury for the Green Drop Award, an annual recognition that Green Cross Italy assigns to the film that best interprets sustainability among those competing at Venice Film Festival. The Green Drop award jury includes distinguished practitioners from the worlds of show business, culture and science who are well known for their commitment to environmental protection and world peace.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine ›
- Trump Orders Hospitals to Stop Sending COVID-19 Data to CDC ... ›
- Two White House Staffers Test Positive for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Admin to Disband Coronavirus Task Force - EcoWatch ›
- Pence Offers 'Prayers' as Hurricane Laura Hits Gulf Coast While ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.
- Covering the 2020 Elections as a Climate Story - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Delays 2020 Earth Overshoot Day by Three Weeks ... ›
By Elliot Douglas
The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.
- German Business Leaders Call for Climate Action With COVID-19 ... ›
- Climate Activists Protest Germany's New Datteln 4 Coal Power Plant ... ›
By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.