Eco-Footprints

To judge from the worldwide increase in the sales of gas-guzzlers, ugly smokestacks fouling the air and plastic bottles clogging the dumps, it appears that we are not paying attention to the fact that we are killing ourselves and the environment with our greed and garbage.

To judge from the worldwide increase in the sales of gas-guzzlers, ugly smokestacks fouling the air and plastic bottles clogging the dumps, it appears that we are not paying attention to the fact that we are killing ourselves and the environment with our greed and garbage. Is this because we feel apathetic and don’t want to hear anything more?
That could explain as to why not many people saw last summer’s movie The 11th Hour, an unnerving, surprisingly affecting documentary about our environmental calamity. Written and directed by the sisters Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners, and narrated on- and off -camera by Leonardo DiCaprio, the film explains how we arrived at this environmental crisis, its impact on the planet, and where we should go from there.
But film critics were less than kind, and the film had to compete with this summer’s Live Earth Concert for a Climate in Crisis. For many, The 11th Hour was just a footnote in a year filled with An Inconvenient Truth, U.N. climate change reports and environmentalists writing books and touring the world.
That’s too bad because The 11th Hour is shock therapy that does offer different solutions than past films and documentaries.
What The film does is attempt to stave off our environmental helplessness, and the destruction that often follows it, mostly by appealing to our reason. In one interview snippet after another, dozens of scientists, activists, gurus, policy types and you-name-its verbally shoot their way through the arguments.
“The earth has a natural greenhouse effect,” explained Stephen H. Schneider, Professor and Senior Fellow at Environmental Science and Policy of the Institute for International Studies. He elaborated that temperatures are warmer due to water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane – what we call greenhouse gases or trapping gases.
Asthmatic children, disappearing animals, gushing oil, billowing smoke, dying lakes, emptying forests and warming weather flashes by you on the screen.
It’s a lot of bad news from a lot of different sources. The ecologist Brock Dolman explains: “When we started feeding off the fossil fuel cycle, we began living with a death-based cycle.”
From there the topic jumps to climate change, national security, Katrina, asthma and news from the oceanographer and author Sylvia Earle that “we’ve lost 90 per cent of most of the big fish in the sea.”
What the sisters and DiCaprio wanted was to leave us disillusioned and hopeless. When we get into the second half of the film with talk about cultural transformation, a new way of looking at global warming and the alternatives or green technology, the film helps you realize there are options.
Hopefully the audience is moved and motivated to do something about it.
The 11th Hour is not without hope. The filmmakers ask what is being done about the problems and the same experts who delivered the facts in the first part of the movie commend existing technologies and projects as attainable. They also applaud new innovation designs that stem from grassroots projects, like the annual global Car Free Day, offering ideas for new directions.
The film distinguishes itself just enough by delving into themes not explored by An Inconvenient Truth, including mankind’s place in the animal kingdom, the influence of religion on climate change and the nature of human greed. The film also turns to some unorthodox perspectives, such as Iroqouis faith-keeping and indigenous traditional medicine.
The 11th Hour will not convert the non-believers. But, for those of us who believe in global warming, the movie captures and defines the earth’s environmental crisis.

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