Film4Climate: Are You Ready to Tell a Story That May Change the World?
Lucia Grenna heads the unit specializing in Communication for Climate Change at the World Bank operational communication division, where she has been working since 1999.
While to many the climate debate may seem remote from daily life, the small decisions that we all can make—how much water we use, the products we buy, how we vote—are personal and possible. And they become easier the more we are aware of the consequences.
Already much of society is choosing to engage in a climate-friendly economy, to invest in renewables, conserve energy and promote climate-smart agriculture and resource conservation. Cities and the private sector are shifting their behavior, building resilience to climate impacts and putting a price on carbon pollution.But the poorest in the world do not even have the luxury of choice. For them, climate change is an immediate, life-threatening danger. Striking images and personal stories help us understand the need for immediate action—by all of us, at all levels.
The World Bank Group's Connect4Climate program, with the direct support of Vulcan Productions, the Italian energy company Enel and The Global Brain, is offering filmmakers the chance to tell these stories and to create messaging that will impact us all and spur action. Partnering with the United Nations and the government of the Kingdom of Morocco, the climate solutions and actions depicted in these films will be celebrated at the United Nations COP22 Climate Summit in Marrakesh in November.
The Film4Climate Global Video Competition is open to all, between the ages of 14-35, to submit a short film up to 5 minutes in length or a public service advertisement up to 60 seconds long anytime between June 20 and Sept. 15. Submissions are accepted through film4climate.net or through Connect4Climate's Facebook page.
"Climate change is a real and global threat affecting people's wellbeing, livelihoods, the environment and economies," Sheila Redzepi, vice president of external and corporate relations for the World Bank Group, said. "Communication is a powerful tool in furthering understanding of its impact and inspiring action to tackle it."
An elite panel of film industry producers, directors and writers chaired by Bernardo Bertolucci will choose the winning entries. They will be distributed globally as examples of how society is embracing the climate challenge and taking actions to transition to a low-carbon resilient future.
Renowned film director Fernando Meirelles will again join the jury for this competition. "Climate change is the biggest challenge humankind will face in the next century and what has to be done to mitigate the effects of climate change must start with us, from bottom to top," Meirelles remarked.
Throughout history when young people have finally had enough of excuses and failure from the older generation, they have gathered together or voted together to demand change. It is often said that this generation is the first to end poverty and the last to tackle climate change. The Film4Climate Global Video Competition aims to show how that change will take place.
The competition is a chance for young filmmakers to let their voices be heard in an impactful way. To vividly illustrate the type of actions that need to be taken immediately and to show us the sort of world they want to be living in and to leave for their children.
“So often youth are sidelined or silenced or made into photo-ops," Connect4Climate youth leader and filmmaker Slater Jewell-Kemker said. "It is important to remember that we are more than just the smiling, happy youth of tomorrow. We are the inheritors of this planet and we need to be listened to."
The limiting factor of the climate decision-making process is not necessarily the unwillingness of policy makers, rather the lack of political and social capital. Leaders need to feel supported and empowered by citizens and the younger generation in order to make the right, bold climate decisions.
Youth have the ability to see beyond boundaries and into the heart of the matter, which is that we are all human, connected and only together will we make the climate crisis into the greatest opportunity for this generation.
Films have the power to inspire. Young people have the energy. The Film4Climate competition aims to bring together these two vital ingredients to build the socio-political capital for climate action and highlight climate solutions around the world.
To find our more about the competition and download flyers and the social media kit see this article on the Connect4Climate site.
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By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas
From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
The Evolutionary Origin of an Aspergillus Hybrid.<p>Multiple evolutionary paths can lead to the emergence of hybrids. One path is through mating, just as the horse and donkey mate to create a mule. Another path is through the merging or fusion of genetic material from cells of different species.</p><p>It is this second path that appears to have been taken by our fungus. <em>A. latus</em> appears to have two of almost everything compared to its parental species: twice the genome size, twice the total number of genes and so on. But unlike other hybrids, which are often sterile like the mule, we found that <em>A. latus</em> is capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually.</p><p>But how distinct were the parents of <em>A. latus</em>? By comparing the parts contributed by each parent in the <em>A. latus</em> genome, we estimate that its parents are approximately 93% genetically similar, which is about as related as we humans are with lemurs. In other words, <em>A. latus</em>, an agent of infectious disease, is the fungal equivalent of a human-lemur hybrid.</p>
How A. Latus Differs From its Parents.<p>Elucidating the identity of closely related fungal pathogens and how they differ from each other in infection-relevant characteristics is a key step toward reducing the burden of fungal disease. For example, we found that <em>A. latus</em> was three times more resistant than <em>A. nidulans</em>, the species it was originally identified as using microscopy-based methods, to one of the most common antifungal drugs, <a href="https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00520" target="_blank">caspofungin</a>. This result provides a clear example of the potential importance of accurate identification of the <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogen causing an infection.</p><p>We also examined how <em>A. latus</em> and <em>A. nidulans</em> interact with cells from our immune system. We found that immune cells were less efficient at combating <em>A. latus</em> compared to <em>A. nidulans</em>, suggesting the hybrid fungus may be trickier for our immune systems to identify and destroy.</p><p>In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our quest to understand <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogens is becoming more urgent. Growing evidence suggests that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/myc.13096" target="_blank">a fraction of COVID-19 patients are also infected with <em>Aspergillus</em>.</a> More worrying is that these <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.201603" target="_blank">secondary <em>Aspergillus</em> infections</a> can worsen the clinical outcomes for those infected with the novel coronavirus. That being said, we stress that little is known about <em>Aspergillus</em> infections in COVID-19 patients due to a lack of systematic testing, and none of the infections identified so far appear to have been caused by hybrids.</p><p>So, when it comes to hybrids, some are fantastic (the minotaur), some are helpful (the mule) and some are dangerous (<em>Aspergillus latus</em>). Understanding more about the biology of <em>Aspergillus latus</em> may help in our understanding of how microbial pathogens arise and how to best prevent and combat their infections.</p>
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