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.
Thousands of Superfund sites exist around the U.S., with toxic substances left open, mismanaged and dumped. Despite the high levels of toxicity at these sites, nearly 21 million people live within a mile of one of them, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Currently, more than 1,300 Superfund sites pose a serious health risk to nearby communities. Based on a new study, residents living close to these sites could also have a shorter life expectancy.
Published in Nature Communications, the study, led by Hanadi S. Rifai, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Houston, and a team of researchers, found that living in nearby zip codes to Superfund sites resulted in a decreased life expectancy of more than two months, the University of Houston reported.
"We have ample evidence that contaminant releases from anthropogenic sources (e.g., petrochemicals or hazardous waste sites) could increase the mortality rate in fence-line communities," Rifai told the University of Houston. "Results showed a significant difference in life expectancy among census tracts with at least one Superfund site and their neighboring tracts with no sites."
The study pulled data from 65,000 census tracts – defined geographical regions – within the contiguous U.S., The Guardian reported. With this data, researchers found that for communities that are socioeconomically challenged, this life expectancy could decrease by up to a year.
"It was a bit surprising and concerning," Rifai told The Guardian. "We weren't sure [when we started] if the fact that you are socioeconomically challenged would make [the Superfund's effects] worse."
The research team, for example, found that the presence of a Superfund site in a census tract with a median income of less than $52,580 could reduce life expectancy by seven months, the University of Houston reported.
Many of these toxic sites were once used as manufacturing sites during the Second World War. Common toxic substances that are released from the sites into the air and surface water include lead, trichlorethylene, chromium, benzene and arsenic – all of which can lead to health impacts, such as neurological damage among children, The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote in a blog.
"The EPA has claimed substantial recent progress in Superfund site cleanups, but, contrary to EPA leadership's grandiose declarations, the backlog of unfunded Superfund cleanups is the largest it has been in the last 15 years," the Union wrote.
Delayed cleanup could become increasingly dangerous as climate change welcomes more natural hazards, like wildfires and flooding. According to a Government Accountability Office report, for example, climate change could threaten at least 60 percent of Superfund sites in the U.S., AP News reported.
During the summer of 2018, a major wildfire took over the Iron Mountain Superfund site near Redding, CA, ruining wastewater treatment infrastructure that is responsible for capturing 168 million gallons of acid mine drainage every month, NBC News reported.
"There was this feeling of 'My God. We ought to have better tracking of wildfires at Superfund locations,'" Stephen Hoffman, a former senior environmental scientist at the EPA, told NBC News. "Before that, there wasn't a lot of thought about climate change and fire. That has changed."
In the study, researchers also looked at the impacts of floodings on Superfund sites, which could send toxins flowing into communities and waterways.
"When you add in flooding, there will be ancillary or secondary impacts that can potentially be exacerbated by a changing future climate," Rifai told the University of Houston. "The long-term effect of the flooding and repetitive exposure has an effect that can transcend generations."
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A weather research station on a bluff overlooking the sea is closing down because of the climate crisis.
The National Weather Service (NWS) station in Chatham, Massachusetts was evacuated March 31 over concerns the entire operation would topple into the ocean.
"We had to say goodbye to the site because of where we are located at the Monomoy Wildlife Refuge, we're adjacent to a bluff that overlooks the ocean," Boston NWS meteorologist Andy Nash told WHDH at the time. "We had to close and cease operations there because that bluff has significantly eroded."
Chatham is located on the elbow of Cape Cod, a land mass extending out into the Atlantic Ocean that has been reshaped and eroded by waves and tides over tens of thousands of years, The Guardian explained. However, sea level rise and extreme weather caused by the climate crisis have sped that change along.
"It's an extremely dynamic environment, which is obviously a problem if you are building permanent infrastructure here," Andrew Ashton, an associate scientist at Cape-Cod based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, told The Guardian. "We are putting our foot on the accelerator to make the environment even more dynamic."
This was the case with the Chatham weather station. It used to be protected from the drop into the ocean by about 100 feet of land. However, storm action in 2020 alone washed away as much as six feet of land a day.
"We'd know[n] for a long time there was erosion but the pace of it caught everyone by surprise," Nash told The Guardian. "We felt we had maybe another 10 years but then we started losing a foot of a bluff a week and realized we didn't have years, we had just a few months. We were a couple of storms from a very big problem."
The Chatham station was part of a network of 92 NWS stations that monitor temperature, pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction and other data in the upper atmosphere, The Cape Cod Chronicle explained. The stations send up radiosondes attached to weather balloons twice a day to help with weather research and prediction. The Chatham station, which had been observing this ritual for the past half a century, sent up its last balloon the morning of March 31.
"We're going to miss the observations," Nash told The Cape Cod Chronicle. "It gives us a snapshot, a profile of the atmosphere when the balloons go up."
The station was officially decommissioned April 1, and the two buildings on the site will be demolished sometime this month. The NWS is looking for a new location in southeastern New England. In the meantime, forecasters will rely on data from stations in New York and Maine.
Nash said the leavetaking was bittersweet, but inevitable.
"[M]other nature is evicting us," he told The Cape Cod Chronicle.
By Douglas Broom
- If online deliveries continue with fossil-fuel trucks, emissions will increase by a third.
- So cities in the Netherlands will allow only emission-free delivery vehicles after 2025.
- The government is giving delivery firms cash help to buy or lease electric vehicles.
- The bans will save 1 megaton of CO2 every year by 2030.
Cities in the Netherlands want to make their air cleaner by banning fossil fuel delivery vehicles from urban areas from 2025.
"Now that we are spending more time at home, we are noticing the large number of delivery vans and lorries driving through cities," said Netherlands environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven, announcing plans to ban all but zero-emission deliveries in 14 cities.
"The agreements we are setting down will ensure that it will be a matter of course that within a few years, supermarket shelves will be stocked, waste will be collected, and packages will arrive on time, yet without any exhaust fumes and CO2 emissions," she added.
She expects 30 cities to announce zero emission urban logistics by this summer. City councils must give four years' notice before imposing bans as part of government plans for emission-free road traffic by 2050. The city bans aim to save 1 megaton of CO2 each year by 2030.
Help to Change
To encourage transport organizations to go carbon-free, the government is offering grants of more than US$5,900 to help businesses buy or lease electric vehicles. There will be additional measures to help small businesses make the change.
The Netherlands claims it is the first country in the world to give its cities the freedom to implement zero-emission zones. Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht already have "milieuzones" where some types of vehicles are banned.
Tilburg, one of the first wave of cities imposing the Dutch ban, will not allow fossil-fuelled vehicles on streets within its outer ring road and plans to roll out a network of city-wide electric vehicle charging stations before the ban comes into effect in 2025.
"Such initiatives are imperative to improve air quality. The transport of the future must be emission-free, sustainable, and clean," said Tilburg city alderman Oscar Dusschooten.
Europe Takes Action
Research by Renault shows that many other European cities are heading in the same direction as the Netherlands, starting with Low Emission Zones of which Germany's "Umweltzone" were pioneers. More than 100 communes in Italy have introduced "Zonas a traffico limitato."
Madrid's "zona de baja emisión" bans diesel vehicles built before 2006 and petrol vehicles from before 2000 from central areas of the city. Barcelona has similar restrictions and the law will require all towns of more than 50,000 inhabitants to follow suit.
Perhaps the most stringent restrictions apply in London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which charges trucks and large vehicles up to US$137 a day to enter the central area if they do not comply with Euro 6 emissions standards. From October, the ULEZ is being expanded.
Cities are responsible for around 75% of CO2 emissions from global final energy use, according to the green thinktank REN21 - and much of these come from transport. Globally, transport accounts for 24% of world CO2 emissions.
The Rise of Online Shopping
Part of the reason for traffic in urban areas is the increase in delivery vehicles, as online shopping continues to grow. Retailer ecommerce sales are expected to pass $5billion in 2022, according to eMarketer.
The World Economic Forum's report The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem, published in January 2020, estimates that e-commerce will increase the number of delivery vehicles on the roads of the world's 100 largest cities by 36% by 2030.
If all those vehicles burn fossil fuels, the report says emissions will increase by 32%. But switching to all-electric delivery vehicles would cut emissions by 30% from current levels as well as reducing costs by 25%, the report says.
Other solutions explored in the report include introducing goods trams to handle deliveries alongside their passenger-carrying counterparts and increased use of parcel lockers to reduce the number of doorstep deliveries.
Reposted with permission from the World Economic Forum.
The bill, SB467, would have prohibited fracking and other controversial forms of oil extraction. It would also have banned oil and gas production within 2,500 feet of a home, school, hospital or other residential facility. The bill originally set the fracking ban for 2027, but amended it to 2035, The AP reported.
"Obviously I'm very disappointed," State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), one of the bill's two introducers, told the Los Angeles Times. "California really has not done what it needs to do in terms of addressing the oil problem. We have communities that are suffering right now, and the Legislature has repeatedly failed to act."
The bill was introduced after California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would sign a fracking ban if it passed the legislature, though his administration has continued to issue permits in the meantime, Forbes reported. Newsom has also spoken in favor of a buffer zone between oil and gas extraction and places where people live and learn, according to the Los Angeles Times. The latter is a major environmental justice issue, as fossil fuel production is more likely to be located near Black and Latinx communities.
Urban lawmakers who want California to lead on the climate crisis supported the bill, while inland lawmakers in oil-rich areas concerned about jobs opposed it. The oil and gas industry and trade unions also opposed the bill.
This opposition meant the bill failed to get the five votes it needed to move beyond the Senate's Natural Resources and Water Committee. Only four senators approved it, while Democrat Sen. Susan Eggman of Stockton joined two Republicans to oppose it, and two other Democrats abstained.
Eggman argued that the bill would have forced California to rely on oil extracted in other states.
"We're still going to use it, but we're going to use it from places that produce it less safely," Eggman told The AP. She also said that she supported the transition away from fossil fuels, but thought the bill jumped the gun. "I don't think we're quite there yet, and this bill assumes that we are," she added.
Historically, California has been a major U.S. oil producer. Its output peaked in 1986 at 1.1 million barrels a day, just below Texas and Alaska, according to Forbes. However, production has declined since then making it the seventh-most oil-producing state.
Still, California's fossil fuel industry is at odds with state attempts to position itself as a climate leader.
"There is a large stain on California's climate record, and that is oil," Wiener said Tuesday, according to The AP.
Wiener and Democrat co-introducer Sen. Monique Limón from Santa Barbara vowed to keep fighting.
"While we saw this effort defeated today, this issue isn't going away," they wrote in a joint statement. "We'll continue to fight for aggressive climate action, against harmful drilling, and for the health of our communities."
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By Brett Wilkins
As world leaders prepare for this November's United Nations Climate Conference in Scotland, a new report from the Cambridge Sustainability Commission reveals that the world's wealthiest 5% were responsible for well over a third of all global emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.
The report, Changing Our Ways: Behavior Change and the Climate Crisis, found that nearly half the growth in absolute global emissions was caused by the world's richest 10%, with the most affluent 5% alone contributing 37%.
"In the year when the UK hosts COP26, and while the government continues to reward some of Britain's biggest polluters through tax credits, the commission report shows why this is precisely the wrong way to meet the UK's climate targets," the report's introduction states.
The authors of the report urge United Kingdom policymakers to focus on this so-called "polluter elite" in an effort to persuade wealthy people to adopt more sustainable behavior, while providing "affordable, available low-carbon alternatives to poorer households."
The report found that the "polluter elite" must make "dramatic" lifestyle changes in order to meet the UK's goal — based on the Paris climate agreement's preferential objective — of limiting global heating to 1.5°C, compared with pre-industrial levels.
In addition to highlighting previous recommendations — including reducing meat consumption, reducing food waste, and switching to electric vehicles and solar power — the report recommends that policymakers take the following steps:
- Implement frequent flyer levies;
- Enact bans on selling and promoting SUVs and other high polluting vehicles;
- Reverse the UK's recent move to cut green grants for homes and electric cars; and
- Build just transitions by supporting electric public transport and community energy schemes.
"We have got to cut over-consumption and the best place to start is over-consumption among the polluting elites who contribute by far more than their share of carbon emissions," Peter Newell, a Sussex University professor and lead author of the report, told the BBC.
"These are people who fly most, drive the biggest cars most, and live in the biggest homes which they can easily afford to heat, so they tend not to worry if they're well insulated or not," said Newell. "They're also the sort of people who could really afford good insulation and solar panels if they wanted to."
Newell said that wealthy people "simply must fly less and drive less. Even if they own an electric SUV, that's still a drain on the energy system and all the emissions created making the vehicle in the first place."
"Rich people who fly a lot may think they can offset their emissions by tree-planting schemes or projects to capture carbon from the air," Newell added. "But these schemes are highly contentious and they're not proven over time."
The report concludes that "we are all on a journey and the final destination is as yet unclear. There are many contradictory road maps about where we might want to get to and how, based on different theories of value and premised on diverse values."
"Promisingly, we have brought about positive change before, and there are at least some positive signs that there is an appetite to do what is necessary to live differently but well on the planet we call home," it states.
The new report follows a September 2020 Oxfam International study that revealed the wealthiest 1% of the world's population is responsible for emitting more than twice as much carbon dioxide as the poorest 50% of humanity combined.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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