Rising seas, severe droughts, catastrophic storms, people foraging for food ... Sounds like a backdrop for a post-apocalyptic film but this is climate change and it’s the real-life blockbuster happening right now.
Whether it’s Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth or Greenpeace’s How to Change the World, films have the ability to highlight environmental issues and empower a movement to create change. But it’s not just documentary films, climate fiction or cli-fi is the literary genre that has risen out of our recognition of climate change and the need to do something about it.
After all, as first-time Oscar winner and climate activist Leonardo Dicaprio said last night, “Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species. And we need to work collectively together to stop procrastinating.”
So without further ado, here’s a few enviro-flicks you can binge watch.
A Plastic Ocean (2016)
When surfer, journalist and filmmaker Craig Leeson heard about the amount of plastic in our oceans he was “shocked and horrified.”
“I’d like to think I am environmentally aware and I love the ocean and here I was using this stuff without a care in the world. I’d been brainwashed into believing that plastic was disposable, as everyone has,” he told the South China Morning Post.
The result is a personal journey of why and how so much trash ends up in our ocean. After all if we don’t clean up our act we could end up having more plastic than fish by 2050.
Zhao Liang has made some courageous documentaries, like people living with HIV and petitioners in Beijing, but for a long time has wanted to tackle an environmental subject. The result is Behemoth, a haunting 90-minute film with beautiful gothic-like images, backed by a Mongolian soundtrack and with no dialogue.
Based in Inner Mongolia, the film exposes the environmental and health costs of coal mining—workers suffering from “black lung disease,” rocky coal mines contrasted by rich grasslands and rapidly urbanized towns that lay empty.
Whilst China might be fast-tracking its way to a renewable energy future and making steps to shut down coal mines, the reality is that many parts of the country and major cities are suffering from the coal industry’s side effects—air pollution, health risks, worker’s rights and compensation—and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Surviving El Nino (2016)
"We should be planting now but there is no water ... no rain means no income."
Severe droughts in the Philippines brought on by El Niño have destroyed many Filipino farmers’ crops. The frequency and intensity of these events are predicted to increase with climate change, resulting in droughts and stronger typhoons.
This short film documents how organic farming can increase farmers' resilience in dealing with a changing and less predictable climate, as more and more Filipino farmers are finding that adopting ecological farming practices enables them to adapt to the new climate reality.
George Clooney and Britt Robertson star in this American “cli-fi” mystery adventure film about a disillusioned and disgruntled inventor, Frank Walker (Cloney) and a science prodigy, Casey Newton (Robertson). When Casey stumbles across a magical pin, it instantly shows her a world filled with climate doom. She enlists in Frank who also knows of the powers of the pin. Can they save the world from its predicted climate change future?
Hong Kong filmmaker is known for making non-sensical comedy-action type films like Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle. His latest The Mermaid, is no different but one key point stands out—amongst all the action and over-the-top CGI effects, deep down it’s a film about how humans are destroying the environment … and mermaids, of course.
Since its release, it’s literally made a huge splash, having become China’s highest grossing film. Using real footage of water pollution and dying sea creatures, it leaves the viewer pondering one question.
“Hypothetically, if the world doesn’t have a single drop of clean water or single breath of clean oxygen left, what do you want the most?”
Under the Dome (2015)
Over a year, investigative journalist Chai Jing visited factories, interviewed government officials, spoke to environmental experts and business owners, all while investing her own money and finding out that her as yet unborn daughter had developed a tumor in the womb.
The result? One of the China’s most influential films, viewed more than 150 million times!
What is it about? Air pollution.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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