3 Reasons Why You Should Submit Your Climate Story Today
Already the Flim4Climate Global Video Competition has more than 250 entries from 100 countries and counting. Each video is telling a story of how skyrocketing carbon emissions and the activities that feed those emissions are having impacts across the globe. More videos are being submitted every day.
Each story is its own. Some films focus on the individual, others focus on groups, a few focus on countries as a whole and others don't focus on humans at all—instead choosing to examine animals, plants or oceans. Individually, these films leave a viewer with a unique experience, but collectively these films combine to create a wonderful mosaic of some of the biggest issues related to climate change today.
We have one week left to the deadline for video submissions (enter your story before Sept. 15) and it is already clear that the stories told through Film4Climate hit the big issues and draw light on the often under told implications of the climate crisis.
Here are three takeaways from the submissions we've received so far and reasons why you should submit your climate story today:
Take 1: Consumption Junctions
If you were to blindly click on the part of the Film4Climate website where all the videos are displayed (vote for your favorite), there's a good chance you would find a film addressing consumption habits. Perhaps this increased emphasis on the electricity we use, the food we eat and the water we require, is indicative of a "post-Paris" climate movement that is beyond merely making noise directed at heads of state and obscure United Nations committees and is instead focused on actions that drive the transition away from fossil fuels.
Of course, meeting the targets agreed upon at Paris will require governments and heads of state to keep stepping up, but as seen in so many of the Film4Climate entries, it's the individual who really holds the power, especially when it comes to consumption. The film entries relating to electricity usage and the consequences our diets have on the planet, talk as much about the food and electricity that we don't use as much as the food and electricity we do use. And for good reason.
When it comes to electricity use, there are a few films that simply emphasize the difference in use by telling the stories of a few people. In the developed world there are huge differences when it comes to personal energy use. In the U.S. and Canada, for example, the average person uses about 4,500 kWh each year while a person in the UK or Germany will come in way under that by using under 2,000 kWh each year.
But variations don't just exist in the developed world, emerging economies show wide ranges in energy use. The average person in Brazil, Mexico and China uses about 500 kWh, but in Brazil residential use per person has been the same for almost 20 years, while in Mexico it is up 50 percent and in China it has increased 600 percent. There are film submissions from all these countries devoted to consumption habits.
Of course there are a number of positive stories of innovation that lead to smarter ways of consuming electricity and energy. Many of these films are incredibly inspiring and focus on very local solutions. When it comes to reducing pollution, being smarter about energy and rethinking our diets, there are a number of films highlighting champions that we can all learn from.
Beyond energy there is a major emphasis on food in the Film4Climate competition. Again, the films are complimented well by the facts on the ground. In the U.S. alone, approximately 40 percent of food goes to waste. Globally, about one third of the food produced for human consumption every year—approximately 1.3 billion tons—gets lost or wasted.
Unsurprisingly, much of the food-focused films in this contest so far are devoted to exposing the damage caused by the global meat industry. The World Resources Institute studied the impact of meat consumption on the planet and found that, "reducing heavy red meat consumption—primarily beef and lamb—would lead to a per capita food and land use-related greenhouse gas emissions reduction of between 15 and 35 percent by 2050." According to that same World Resources Institute report, "Beef uses more land and freshwater and generates more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of protein than any other commonly consumed food."
The Shocking Consequences of the World's #Meat Addiction https://t.co/sY0LsFmUmU @VICE @HBO @EWG #VICEonHBO https://t.co/O2fyxRyJcT— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1457107057.0
A growing global beef industry requires more land for grazing and that has resulted in massive clear cutting of the world's largest rainforest. Thus, the beef consumption issue is a deforestation issue. Which brings us to...
Take 2: Deforestation Flicks
For any environmentalist and for what is probably a large part of the population, seeing trees and forests cut down evokes a real and tangible emotion. The destruction of a living thing, that is a habitat for so many other living things and provides the oxygen all earthly things carries weight.
For any environmentalist and for what is probably a large part of the population, seeing trees and forests cut down evokes a real and tangible emotion.Mahmoud El-Kholy
It can manifest with a flinch that accompanies the screech of revved up chainsaw or the internal hollowness that radiates like tree rings from one's stomach when a giant tree thuds helplessly on the forest floor. Maybe these images, these sounds these feelings are the reason so many films in the Film4Climate contest highlight the deforestation issue.
While forest-related stories come from all parts of the world, Brazil is a common setting. Over the last thirty years, the Amazon rainforest has has lost about a fifth of its trees. There are a number of causes for this but the largest, as indicated above factor is cattle ranching. Trees are cut and the land is converted into a pasture for cattle grazing at such a staggering rate in Brazil that between 1996 and 2004, the total export value of Brazilian beef increased tenfold from $1.9 million to $1.9 billion. Brazil is now the largest beef exporter in the world. In other parts of the world, where cattle grazing persists so to does deforestation.
But it's not all cattle. Often, deforestation is the result of increased development or in other cases, deforestation is the result of a quest for palm oil, used in many household, cooking and cosmetic goods. A whopping 85 percent of all palm oil in the world is produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia.
Be it beef production, palm oil or other factors, the world lost an estimated 129 million hectares of forest, an area the size of South Africa, between 1990 and 2015. This trend is a real life horror plot as forests are the largest holder of carbon, but deforestation is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions after fossil fuel burning, causing 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Of course not all the films focused on the negative of deforestation. Within every genre of film submitted so far to the contest, there are a number of solutions based films related to deforestation. In fact a common theme running through the positive deforestation films was one of rethinking our personal relationships with nature and how adjusting our mindset to when it comes to diet and development can make a difference.
Whether it's the positive or the negative, deforestation story needs to be told and I encourage any filmmaker out there working on the issue to enter their story.
Take 3: Water, Water Everywhere
Water runs through everything on this planet, so perhaps it's no surprise that water is a theme that runs rapidly through the Film4Climate competition.
Videos already sent in to this competition focus on subjects like the food we get from the ocean (spoiler alert: it's fish), the freshwater habitats that are at risk to climate change and the irreversible damage we are doing to our reefs thanks to ocean acidification. Higher temperatures and a shift in extreme weather patterns affect availability and distribution of rain, snow, river flows and groundwater and further deteriorate water quality.
Videos already sent in to this competition focus on subjects like the food we get from the ocean.Stephanie Rabemiafara
The films devoted to these impacts, whether they tell a story of remote villagers that must now travel farther for sketchier sources of water for their family or they document the growing number of vanishing species resulting from vanishing habitats, underscore the connectivity that comes with the water challenge.
Many of the water films are incredibly positive stories as they tend to focus on localized solutions and individuals who are determined to make water access easier for their communities. Through a number of the positive heroic actions the water struggle is explained by focusing on the heroes instead of the villains.
But if there it's villains you are into then look no further than the issue of ocean acidification. Ocean Acidification, the result of warming water and subsequent chemical reactions, has a dramatic impact on calcifying species like oysters, clams, shallow water corals and deep sea corals along with a number of other creatures under the sea.
Above the sea, more than a billion people worldwide rely on food from the ocean as their primary source of protein and a huge number are employed by getting those creatures on dinner tables around the world. The films dealing with ocean acidification all touch on the food aspect, as well as the fact that acidification is already taking hold on some of the world's most vibrant habitats like the Great Barrier Reef.
If you have a story about better caring for or preserving our water resources in times of climate change, please enter your film.
With more than 200 films entered in the Film4Climate contest and each one of those containing a real story about how the climate crisis is taking hold around the world, there's a lot for any film fanatic to take in.
I hope that when the submission deadline hits in September we have many more stories to watch and more inspiration for action to take on climate change. After all, we should all be working towards a happy ending on climate change.
By Matthew J. Landry and Heather Eicher-Miller
When university presidents were surveyed in spring of 2020 about what they felt were the most pressing concerns of COVID-19, college students going hungry didn't rank very high.
Why It Matters<p>This is not just a matter of growling stomachs. This is a straight-up education and health issue.</p><p>When students don't really know if they'll be able to get enough to eat, it can lead to a series of problems that make it harder to stay in school. For instance, it can affect <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1359105318783028" target="_blank">academic performance</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6943-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sleep quality</a>. It can also lead to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318783028" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">poor mental and physical health</a> outcomes for college students.</p><p>Food insecurity can also result in disrupted eating patterns if there is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627945/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">not enough food or the variety</a> or <a href="https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-6943-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">quality of what someone eats</a> is low.</p>
Campus Food Pantries<p>Previous strategies by <a href="https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/696254.pdf" target="_blank">colleges and universities</a> to fight hunger in their student bodies have varied widely. They include campus food pantries, emergency cash assistance and nutrition education through noncredit classes or workshopse.</p><p>These strategies were put to the test during the spring 2020 semester, when nearly <a href="https://hope4college.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Hopecenter_RealCollegeDuringthePandemic.pdf" target="_blank">three in five students</a> said they had trouble meeting their own basic needs during the pandemic.</p><p>College food pantries saw <a href="https://www.utrgv.edu/newsroom/2020/05/01-utrgv-student-food-pantry-seeing-recent-increase-in-demand-during-covid-19.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">big increases</a> in demand. Others said they <a href="https://www.theprospectordaily.com/2020/09/22/uteps-food-pantry-is-running-out-of-food/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">were getting less donated food</a>. This made it even harder to meet the rising food needs of students.</p><p>Campus food pantries largely rely on local or regional food banks, which have been dealing with <a href="https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/2020/10/04/indiana-food-banks-call-more-food-stamps-meet-publics-need/3523683001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">greater demand</a> than they are able to meet during the pandemic.</p><p>The many students who are attending college remotely will, of course, have less access to campus resources like food pantries.</p>
Federal Help<p>Other potential ways to get more food are government programs like the <a href="https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/recipient/eligibility" target="_blank">Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program</a>, known as SNAP. Yet the majority of able-bodied students are not eligible. Long-standing restrictions, like the <a href="https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/students" target="_blank">college SNAP rule</a>, prevent full-time students from receiving these benefits.</p><p>Such regulatory hurdles were created under the assumption that most students can rely on their parents to get enough to eat. However, college students have vastly different levels of financial support. Some students can rely on their parents for everything and others cannot rely on their parents for anything.</p><p>Decreased reliance on parental financial support is <a href="https://ir.library.louisville.edu/jsfa/vol47/iss3/5/" target="_blank">especially common</a> for first-generation students and students of color, who now make up <a href="https://1xfsu31b52d33idlp13twtos-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Race-and-Ethnicity-in-Higher-Education.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">45% of enrolled college students</a>.</p><p>Under normal circumstances, many college students might rely on part-time jobs to pay for their food.</p>
Short-Term Solutions<p>Universities and colleges can make it a priority to ensure students are aware of all available campus resources and services. They can also potentially help students apply for federal assistance benefits.</p><p>Campus food pantries are not a fully effective and efficacious solution for the scale of college food insecurity, but they can be a good interim solution to increase access to food for students.</p><p>Campuses without food pantries can start one, making use of resources the <a href="https://cufba.org/resources/" target="_blank">College and University Food Bank Alliance</a> provides. Schools with food pantries can try to get them to <a href="https://www.swipehunger.org/5campuspantry/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reach more students</a>.</p><p>Universities and colleges can also lean on one another for support. The <a href="http://wp.auburn.edu/endchildhungeral/alabama-campus-coalition-for-basic-needs/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Alabama Campus Coalition for Basic Needs</a> is a great example of this. It brings together 10 universities across the state of Alabama collectively working to address student food insecurity.</p>
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By Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie
Of all the plastic we've ever produced, only 9% has been recycled. So what happened to all that plastic you've put in the recycling bin over the years?
Triangle of Mistruths<p>The myth created around plastic recycling has been one of simplicity. We look for the familiar triangle arrows, then pop the waste in the recycling bin so it can be reused.</p><p>But the true purpose of those triangles has been misunderstood by the general public ever since their invention in the 1980s.</p><p>These triangles were actually created by the plastics industry and, according to a report provided to them in July 1993, <a href="https://www.npr.org/transcripts/912150085" target="_blank">were creating "unrealistic expectations"</a> about what could be recycled. But they decided to keep using the codes.</p><p>Which is why many people still believe that these triangular symbols (also known as a <a href="https://sustainablepackaging.org/101-resin-identification-codes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">resin identifier code</a> or RIC) means something is recyclable.</p><p>But according to the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) – which controls the RIC system – the numbered triangles "<a href="https://www.astm.org/Standards/D7611.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">are not recycle codes</a>." In fact, they weren't created for the general public at all. They were made for the post-consumer plastic industry.</p><p>In other words, the symbols make it easier to sort the different types of plastics, some of which cannot be recycled – <a href="https://www.ecobin.com.au/understand-recycling-codes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">depending on the recycling facility</a>.</p><p>"Unfortunately, just placing your plastic into the recycling bin doesn't mean it will get recycled," says Lara Camilla Pinho. She is an architect and lecturer at the UWA School of Design who is researching novel uses of plastic waste.</p><p>"The recycling system is complicated and often dictated by market demand. Not all plastic is recyclable. We cannot recycle plastic bags or straws for example."</p>
Behind the Scenes<p>So, what makes recycling plastics so difficult?</p><p>"Essentially, there are two types of plastics – thermoplastics and thermosets. While thermoplastics can be re-melted and re-molded, thermosets contain cross-linked polymers that cannot be separated meaning they cannot be recycled," says Lara.</p><p>"Even thermoplastics have a limit to the amount of times we can recycle them, as each time they are recycled they downgrade in quality."</p><p>Even when plastics are recyclable, it is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/13/war-on-plastic-waste-faces-setback-as-cost-of-recycled-material-soars" target="_blank">often more costly</a> than simply making new plastics.</p>
Sugar, Seaweed and Mushrooms<p>If the conventional recycling system isn't working, what else can we do with all the plastic we've created?</p><p>Lara is looking for ways to add value to recycled plastics such as using it in the design and development of architectural products. She hopes to use these architectural products to help underserved communities that are disproportionately affected by plastic waste.</p><p>In addition to recycling, we also need to find ways to reduce our use of virgin petroleum-based plastics.</p><p>Bioplastic is one such product that has been getting a lot of hype over the last few years. And although they're better than petroleum-based plastics, bioplastics also come with their own <a href="https://phys.org/news/2017-12-truth-bioplastics.html" target="_blank">set of challenges</a>.</p><p>"There are already a lot of bio-based alternatives to plastic, such as bagasse – a byproduct of sugar cane processing," says Lara.</p><p><a href="https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-mycelium-revolution-is-upon-us/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mycelium</a>, a type of fungi we most often associate with mushrooms, are also providing an interesting plastic alternative.</p><p>"In the field of architecture, mycelium is starting to be used as an alternative to plastic insulation, but also as compostable packaging and bricks," says Lara.</p><p>"The bricks take around five days to make and are strong, durable, water resistant and compostable at the end of their use."</p><p><a href="https://www.arup.com/news-and-events/hyfi-reinvents-the-brick" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hy-Fi Tower</a>, created by <a href="http://www.thelivingnewyork.com/living_about.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Living</a>, is an example of a building made from these bricks.</p><p>And finally, there's seaweed.</p><p>"[Seaweed is] cheap and can reproduce itself quickly without fertilizers. In architecture, there is use for seaweed as an alternative to plastic insulation but also as cladding," says Lara.</p>
More Money, More Problems<p>While all these alternatives are great, the main cause of our plastic dilemma is not scientific or technological, but economic.</p><p>As long as it remains <a href="https://engineering.mit.edu/engage/ask-an-engineer/why-is-it-cheaper-to-make-new-plastic-bottles-than-to-recycle-old-ones/" target="_blank">cheaper to create new plastics</a> from fossil fuels rather than from bioplastics or from recycling, we're going to be stuck with plastic garbage islands floating in our oceans.</p><p>The true cost to our health and our environment has yet to be included in the equation. But once it is, maybe that is when the real shift will happen.</p>
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Towards the end of the final presidential debate of the 2020 election season, the moderator asked both candidates how they would address both the climate crisis and job growth, leading to a nearly 12-minute discussion where Donald Trump did not acknowledge that the climate is changing and Joe Biden called the climate crisis an existential threat.
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