This February, Odd Fellow Hall was hosting an eco-film festival, playing three separate movies over three separate Fridays that all had an environmental focus, hence the term eco-film festival. I just so happened to go to the last film that they were going to show. Right downtown was this hidden little staircase, leading up to a giant room with so many chairs set up. All along the edges of the room, there were vendors selling peanut oil popcorn and local beer on tap. Naturally, I got both and took my place in a seat close to the middle. I would argue that I am an expert in selecting the perfect movie seat.
A man came up and gave us a brief introduction, explaining that we were about to watch Climate Change: The Facts narrated by David Attenborough. The film had not yet been released in America but somehow, he got permission to show it. I was very excited by this news. After the hour-long movie, there would be a brief panel comprised of a couple of Oregon State University faculty members as well as a couple younger generation people ranging from graduate programs to high school activists. And then, the film began.
It introduced a couple of different climate scientists as well as a brief inclusion of Greta Thunberg. Then, the movie provided us the facts. Although I do not feel like I gained any new information, it was a decent watch. It showed permafrost melting, rising sea levels, methane being released from frozen lakes, rising temperatures causing bats to die (I may have teared up a bit during this portion), and damage to human society caused by intense and aggressive natural disasters. It covered a lot of the environmental issues that are already occurring and stressed that it can get so much worse. The film included a couple of charts and videos that showed the rise in temperatures as well as the rise in deforestation practices. By including these more data-based graphics, I got the sense that the film was trying very hard to push the idea that climate change is, indeed, a fact. Even when they focused on the methane being released from frozen lakes, they proved this by poking holes in the ice and holding a source of fire over it, and the flame would roar. As climate change has been a hotly contested topic of current time, providing shots like this probably have the goal of inducing a shock factor. I say this because I was shocked seeing that happen. The inclusion of Greta also pushed forward the idea of having to do something in order to combat climate change.
After the film had completed, they set up the panel. This was oriented by the speaker first asking each person an individually question. The first panelist, Bill Ripple, was asked what he would say to people who doubt climate change. Ripple said this happened to him the other day and he merely pulled out a chart showing the rise in carbon dioxide levels. He continued to say that we are not doing nearly enough and that we need to focus on consumption and energy issues to have the change we need.
Another panelist, Dr. Greg Walker, was asked about collaboration efforts and progress here in Oregon. His responses mentioned that there exists a false dichotomy in the minds of people, because often we believe that we can either have many jobs for people, or we care for the environment. There is not an in between. However, he said, by combating this dichotomy, we can hopefully find ways to reorient our society in order to be environmentally conscious and keep people in jobs.
Lastly, the youth panel was comprised of a graduate student focused on coral bleaching and a young girl in high school practicing climate activism. Overall, they both seemed to have faith and want to fight for change. The graduate student mentioned resilience for conservation. The high school student mentioned working with community. Each essentially had their own way to tackle climate change.
In sum, the panelists provided ideas about promoting that climate change is indeed happening, and by working with community, by working to make voices heard, by fighting to reorient our society, we can potentially combat the degradation that is to come. As the film showed, we are already experiencing a certain amount of damage, and it will only get worse if nothing is done. Film and speakers combined is a powerful way to inspire people to get involved in activism. By hearing personal stories, by seeing facts and data, this is how the message will get out and how it will be accepted. I know that I found myself thinking about the movie days after the fact, considering what things I could do myself to do my part.