Movies to Watch This Earth Day: EcoWatch Staff Picks
At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.
To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.
Irma Omerhodzic, Associate Editor
Film: The True Cost
Summary: Filmmaker Andrew Morgan's documentary The True Cost takes an eye-opening journey that explores the horrific impacts fast fashion has on human beings and the planet. Consumer demand for cheap and "fast" clothing comes with a different kind of cost. Light is shed on labor-rights abuses in developing countries, far-reaching environmental pollution and the tragic connection between the fashion industry's demand for genetically modified cotton and high suicide rates among Indian farmers.
Staff Note: As organic and local labels on food become more and more important to people, I hope the same awareness can become more prevalent for perhaps a pair of blue jeans. I recommend this film with the hope that this documentary leaves you thinking about the brands you buy and the environmental costs of fast fashion. You can watch The True Cost on Netflix.
Olivia Rosane, Freelance Reporter
Film: The Gleaners and I
Summary: Pioneering French director Agnès Varda passed away last month at the age of 90. Her 2000 documentary The Gleaners and I follows France's modern gleaners, from unemployed caravan-dwellers who gather potatoes discarded after the harvest to urban dumpster divers, and artists who make work from discarded trash. Without making any overt statements, the film exposes the contemporary culture of food and material waste that its subjects all find large and small ways of resisting.
Staff Note: Watching this haunting, playful movie is the perfect way to honor Varda's legacy, while celebrating the spirit of Earth Day. Varda is honest about the environmental and human consequences of the waste she documents, but her camera work also shares her subjects' delight in the things they find. The film slyly models a better way to live, one that seeks and finds value in all things. "They're still very much alive," artist Hervé tells Varda of the found objects he uses in his work. "All you have to do is give them a second chance." You can purchase or rent the film on YouTube or GooglePlay, or stream it on Amazon.
Chris McDermott, News Editor
Film: Grizzly Man
Summary: For 13 years, wildlife activist Timothy Treadwell lived among grizzly bears in the Alaska wilderness. The exuberant and self-professed "kind warrior" shot more than 100 hours of video to celebrate and advocate for the animals he believed were endangered by poachers. Werner Herzog's documentary follows Treadwell's seemingly extraordinary sense of kinship with the bears, which ends tragically with a fatal attack by one he had grown over the years to consider his "good friend."
Staff Note: This beautiful and disturbing film, available on Amazon, YouTube and iTunes, highlights one of the main challenges of wildlife conservation — must we consider animals "friends" in order to value their lives, or can we coexist at a healthy distance, with fear and respect? Despite Treadwell's conviction that he had bonded with the "misunderstood" bears, Herzog said, "I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature." I often remember this film while on nature hikes in the habitats of black bears and alligators.
Tara Bracco, Managing Editor
Film: Blue Gold: World Water Wars
Summary: Directed by Sam Bozzo, this award-winning documentary released in 2008 is based on the book Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World's Water. The film includes interviews with the book's authors, Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke, as well as water experts, activists, and citizens in communities affected by water privatization. Blue Gold explains why we are running out of water, why we must ensure that water is a human right and not a commodity, and what we can do about water scarcity.
Staff Note: We all need water to live. This film is informative in many ways, including its emphasis on who owns and controls our water, and what that means for our future. "Profit is made out of the running of, and the delivery of, water to people and to communities. Those that have the ability to pay will have access to the water. Those who do not have the ability to pay will go without," says Clarke in the film. "Therefore it's a life and death situation." Watch the film on Amazon to learn more about this important issue.
Jordan Simmons, Social Media Manager
Film: What the Health
Summary: What the Health, the sequel to Cowspiracy, exposes the corruption in our current public health crisis. 350 million people worldwide have diabetes, and in the U.S. one out of four deaths are from cancer. Yet, as writer and producer Kip Anderson points out, many chronic illnesses can be prevented and in some cases reversed, but these solutions seem to be kept secret. In a behind the scenes look, Anderson approaches some of the most trusted non-profits such as the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society and uncovers the answers as to who is behind the status quo of a system that keeps people sick.
Staff Note: The most shocking exposé is when Anderson interviews the American Diabetes Association and asks why recipes containing red and processed meat are listed on their website. Anderson points out studies that prove only one serving per day will increase risk for diabetes by 51 percent. The adventure this mind-opening film undergoes can help us all to more positive health outcomes. Find the film on Netflix.
5 Must-Watch #Documentaries for a More #Sustainable Planet https://t.co/c3GUsxAXcn @FilmsForAction @good— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1554577226.0
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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