Fighting Climate Change with Movies

11 June, 2016

"How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change" is the latest movie from filmmaker and climate activist Josh Fox.

The movie is the third film in a three-part series about climate change.

In 2010, America's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated Fox's documentary "Gasland" for its highest award -- an Oscar. "Gasland" explored "fracking," the hotly debated process of removing natural gas from the ground. He examined the subject again in "Gasland II," the second film in his climate change series.

Fox was in Washington, D.C. recently to present his third film. He was arrested during a protest against a new fuel pipeline. The arrest was evidence of his opposition to traditional fossil fuels and support of renewable energy.

In the film, Fox says pollution from fossil fuels must be reduced. Without limits, he says, there will be more extreme weather, like severe storms and dry weather, rising sea levels and shortages of food and water.

"It's going to change in some of the most difficult and dangerous ways that we can imagine. When you really encounter that head on, it causes an incredible crisis. I think you go deep into some kind of despair and I think you ping-pong back and forth between that despair and, and denial."

Fox notes there are some things that climate cannot change.

"And those are the things that are inside of us. Those are our value structure and that is what the film starts to define. If we start to really emphasize building community, building human rights, building democracy and the things that are inside -- courage, love, generosity, innovation, creativity. And I think those are some of the hallmarks or the pillars of what we talk about when we talk about activism, when we talk about a response to climate change."

In the new film, Fox travels through a sunless forest in the Amazon with local activists to measure oil spills. He goes to a village in Ecuador to learn how people there stopped a pipeline from being built. He joins young people in Australia to stop barges from entering the port of Newcastle -- the largest coal export center in the world.

(Islanders yelling "We are not drowning, we are fighting! We are not drowning, we are fighting!")

"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, any kind of sea creatures, drifting away in currents out into the Pacific Ocean, cultural disrespect, big waves -- well, you get the idea!"

The port at Newcastle was forced to close for just one day. But Fox says that was a major victory.

"I think that protest was incredibly effective. But what it also did was, it was a win internally for these folks and for all of us that we can celebrate. Then we realize resilience is one of the most important things going forward and these people exhibit so much resilience."

Also in the film, Fox talks to Ella Zhou, an energy expert with the U.S. Department of Energy. She works in China. She met him at the Great Wall to explain the importance of what she calls "moral imagination."

"I think that the moral imagination forces us to get out of our box of thinking about, for instance, what is being successful. The moral imagination allows us to think outside of this box, having a moral value about what you want as a person, as an individual, what you want out of your own humanity. What do you want to do for the world for yourself?"

"If there was any idea that could rocket you off into the stratosphere this was it. The moral imagination wrote The Bill of Rights, came up with the idea of democracy." -- Josh Fox

Fox is visiting 100 cities with his new film to try to bring attention to the efforts being made to fight climate change. His film will be shown on the television cable channel HBO soon.

I'm Christopher Jones-Cruise.

VOA Science Correspondent Rosanne Skirble reported this story for VOANews. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

encounter – v. to have or experience (problems, difficulties, etc.)

head on – adv. in a very direct way

despair – n. the feeling of no longer having any hope

ping-pong – expression alternating between two emotions

generosity – n. the quality of being kind, understanding and not selfish; the quality of being generous

hallmark – n. a quality, ability, etc., that is typical of a particular person or thing

response – n. something that is done as a reaction to something else

sequence – n. a series of scenes from a movie or television program; a part of a movie, television show, etc., that deals with one subject, action or idea

downside – n. a part of something that you do not want or like; a drawback or disadvantage

drift – v. to move slowly on water, wind, etc.

incredibly – adv. very

effective – adj. producing a result that is wanted; having an intended effect

internally – adv. referring to or describing something existing or occurring within your mind

resilience – n. the ability to become strong, healthy or successful again after something bad happens

exhibit – v. (somewhat formal) to show or reveal (something)

rocket you off into the stratosphere – expression give you great inspiration