As 2015 goes down as the world’s hottest year on record and the East Coast continues to dig out from one of its worst snowstorms in history, we look at the new documentary by Josh Fox. In How to Let Go of the World (And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change) Fox travels the globe, from New York City to the Marshall Islands and China, to follow the struggles of communities fighting the impacts of climate change.
In one scene, a group of Pacific Climate Warriors chant, "We are not drowning, we are fighting." Fox’s new film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and airs on HBO this summer. His other films include Gasland, the documentary which first exposed the harms of the fracking industry and was nominated for an Academy Award.
Here’s the transcript of the interview:
Amy Goodman: We’re broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The death toll from a record-breaking snowstorm that pummeled the Eastern Seaboard has risen to more than 40. In Washington, DC, federal government offices remain closed again today. The House of Representatives has postponed all votes this week. Snowstorm Jonas was the single biggest snowstorm on record for at least six locations across the East Coast, including Baltimore, Maryland and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The highest total snowfall recorded was 42 inches—or three-and-a-half feet—in Glengary, West Virginia. The Weather Channel’s lead meteorologist, Michael Palmer, said, "It’s likely to go down as one of the most impressive blizzards we’ve seen on the Eastern Seaboard in recorded history."
The record snowstorm in the U.S. came as parts of Asia also experienced record-cold weather. Hong Kong experienced its coldest day in 60 years Sunday. Islands across Japan also experienced their coldest days in decades, with one island, Amami Oshima, receiving snow for the first time in 115 years. In Vietnam, farmers are grappling with the coldest winter in more than 40 years.
Meanwhile, a new study suggests warmer water temperatures are causing the seas to expand twice as fast as previously thought, leading to greater sea level rise. The study in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences also found sea level rise varied by location, with the Philippines experiencing sea level rise at five times the average global rate.
Well, we turn now to a new film that’s premiered at Sundance—it’s on climate change—from Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award-nominated film Gasland, which exposed the dangers of fracking. This new film is called How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.
Josh Fox: Can a person stop a wave? Could you stand on the shore and stop a wave from crashing? What are the things that climate change can’t destroy? What are those parts of us that are so deep that no storm can take them away?
Amy Goodman: That’s the trailer for Josh Fox’s new film, How to Let Go of the World (And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change). Josh Fox joins us here in Park City, Utah.
We welcome you to Democracy Now!
Josh Fox: Hi, Amy. It’s good to be here.
Amy Goodman: Hey, Josh. It’s great to be with you. So talk about your travels around the world for the last three years.
Josh Fox: Well, this film starts with me in my own backyard having won against the fracking industry—well, not just me, but all the movement—and realizing that even though we could—
Amy Goodman: How did you win?
Josh Fox Well, through a whole lot of creative protest, the threat of civil disobedience en masse, educating the Delaware River Basin Commission about how dangerous and contaminating the fracking process is. And since that’s the watershed for 16 million people, finally, after years and years of campaigning, they relented and took the river basin off the table. So that was a huge victory. As many people watched in Gasland, the fear was that the watershed would start to get drilled.
But then realizing, as I see the ecosystem collapse under the weight of climate change, the hemlock forests being eaten by a parasite that’s advancing because the temperatures are warming, that we could lose everything in our region to climate change and then, just a few months later, New York City getting the same wake-up call with Hurricane Sandy, that these extreme weather events will continue to get worse, as you’re seeing with this incredible, crazy snowstorm, only a few weeks after we had 60-degree temperatures on Christmas. The extremes of weather—
Amy Goodman: Right, the hottest Christmas on record.
Josh Fox: Right.
Amy Goodman: And the effect of this snowstorm?
Josh Fox: Yeah and the extremes of weather change with climate, right? So, that led me to a real discovery that we are so late in this game. We’ve already warmed the Earth by one degree. We have another 0.5 degrees already in the pipeline. And at two degrees warming, we’re talking about five to nine meters of sea level rise being engendered. That is lethal for New York City. That’s a—and Philadelphia and Washington, DC, Boston, Florida, San Francisco. So, looking at this from the perspective it’s already so late in the game—many would say too late to avoid some of the most destructive aspects of climate change—that sent me out on the road from this place of really deep despair to find all the things climate can’t change.
And what those are, are civic virtues, courage, democracy, love, human rights, resilience, creativity, innovation. And so that led me all across the world to six continents, 12 countries and places like the Amazon with indigenous environmental monitors or the Pacific Climate Warriors who are blockading the coal ports in Australia to stop their islands from being submerged by sea level rise, people speaking out in China for human rights and against climate change, at peril of being imprisoned. So these were the things that are incredibly emotional, in some cases spiritual, ethical examples of people who never say die, who are the most inspiring individuals I’ve ever met—a couple of them sitting right next to me here on this show, which I’m so excited to hear what they have to say. But that as late as it is, we have to inspire within ourselves a sense of generosity, community, these civic virtues that we’re going to need if we’re going to win any of these climate battles, but we’re going to need them even more if we start losing.
Amy Goodman: Well, Josh, before we go to our other guests in studio, climate activists from around this country, I want to turn to a clip from How to Let Go of the World (And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change), where that group of Pacific Islanders you describe, from nations including the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, set out in hand-carved canoes to blockade one of the world’s largest coal ports in Newcastle, Australia. This clip is narrated by Josh Fox. It begins with the Pacific Climate Warriors chanting, "We are not drowning, we are fighting."
Pacific Climate Warriors: We are not drowning, we are fighting! We’re not drowning, we are fighting! We are not drowning, we are fighting!
Josh Fox: Before I say anything else about this sequence, you should probably know that the downside of what we’re about to do was, you know—this is the short list: drowning, arrest, run over by boats, all kinds of sharks, jellyfish, getting punched, sea creatures, drifting away in currents out into the Pacific Ocean, cultural disrespect, big waves. Well, you get the idea. I’ll just say, this was the closest I’ve ever been to feeling like I was in that last scene in Star Wars. We didn’t know what would happen, but a massive coal tanker entered the port, to be greeted by seven hand-carved canoes from the Pacific Island nations and by dozens of Australian kayaking protesters flooding the channel. Nothing like this had ever happened before, tiny canoes like little X-wing fighters up against the Death Star, Australian police swarming in jet skis, intentionally trying to capsize boaters. The first confrontation was upon us: A huge coal ship was leaving port.
I mean, this is amazing. This has actually worked. They’ve actually stopped the coal ship.
I can’t really describe the feeling of watching people in hand-carved canoes, threatened to be sucked under by giant tugboats pulling these ships out to sea. It was true bravery.
Pacific Climate Warriors: We are not drowning, we are fighting! We are not drowning, we are fighting! We are not drowning, we are fighting!
Josh Fox: This was where the protest tipped out of the symbolic and into something actual. This was the fight. This was how you stop a wave from crashing and destroying your home, pulling your family out to sea. This was how you do it.
Amy Goodman: A clip from Josh Fox’s new film, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change. Josh?
Josh Fox: "We are not drowning, we are fighting." This could be an anthem for New Yorkers, for Philadelphians, for people in San Francisco. And I think a lot of times when you talk about climate change, you don’t know how to fight. But what we’re going to do with this film, before it goes on HBO in the summertime, is tour it all across America to a hundred of the hotspots, like you see in the Port of Newcastle, but in America, where people are fighting pipelines and power plants, compressor stations, LNG terminals, mountaintop removal, fracking, tar sands—all the places where the fossil fuel industry is invading America. That’s called the Let Go and Love Tour, where we work directly with communities to provide them with renewable energy alternatives on the ground and also mobilize. So, you can learn more about that at our Facebook page or we actually are running a Kickstarter campaign to help us get all across America.
Amy Goodman: Well, we’re going to talk about ...
Josh Fox: Yeah.
Amy Goodman: ... the 100-city tour and about the activism that our guests today are involved with, whether we’re talking about the connections between—well, how climate change affects people differently depending on their socioeconomic status or learning about people, environmentalists on trial and what’s happening to them in this country. We’ll be joined by Aria Doe and Tim DeChristopher in addition to filmmaker Josh Fox in a minute.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.
- Are We Doomed If We Don't Curb Carbon Emissions by 2030 ... ›
- California Winery Cuts Carbon Emissions With Lighter Bottles ... ›
- Wealthy One Percent Are Producing More Carbon Emissions Than ... ›
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>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
- 14 States On Track to Meet Paris Targets - EcoWatch ›
- Biden Vows to Ax Keystone XL if Elected - EcoWatch ›
- Biden Names John Kerry as First-Ever Climate Envoy - EcoWatch ›
By Maria Caffrey
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>
By Andrea Germanos
Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened "lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem" and death to the area's Indigenous culture.
<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
- Pebble Mine Threatens One of the Last Great Salmon Rivers ... ›
- The Pebble Mine Is Too Toxic Even for the Trump Administration ... ›
- Trump Admin Reverses Obama-Era Restrictions on Pebble Mine ... ›
OlgaMiltsova / iStock / Getty Images Plus
By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.