Round up of great documentaries about environmental issues

Environmental Film

Environmental Film

Issues that affect the entire planet can sometimes be difficult to grasp from a book or an article. Fortunately, there are increasingly more
filmmakers creating great documentaries that provide footage of the actual effect climate change and other environmental issues are having on the world, on ecosystems, and the people living on the planet. The great part about it is that many of them are also available online for free. I have selected some of the ones I watched recently and provided them here for you (you don’t even need to leave this page. Well… Almost.):

Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (2011)

 Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization was produced by PBS as one of the episodes of the series Journey to Planet Earth. It is a great documentary because it lays out many of the environmental issues we are facing, but also provides a hopeful road map of ways to solve them.


Climate Refugees (2010)

Climate Refugees is an amazing award-winning documentary that discusses people who have been displaced due to environmental disasters caused by climate change and how we should expect more people to face problems like these in the near future. It provides a very powerful statement that brings up many important questions about human rights, immigration, and responsibility in these issues.


Blue Gold (2008)

Blue Gold is a great documentary about the most basic and precious resource we need as living creatures: water. It talks about the very serious issues relating to water scarcity and how that is already affecting many people and could potentially become a major cause of conflict in the world.


Chasing Ice (2012)

Chasing Ice is this beautiful and powerful award-winning documentary about climate change, but you’ll have to come to the Environmental Center’s next REEL Film Experience fundraiser on December 5th, 2013 to watch it. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to see this film and support the EC!

~ Hari Baumbach, Climate Action Team

Climate change: it’s here & happening

Climate Change has been a hot topic in recent years and as the effects of it continue to worsen, the question still stands, what are we going to do about it? The Climate Action Team is a brand new team this year that is focusing on tackling the issue of climate change and how to address it on campus and in the community. One of the biggest challenges our team faces is figuring out how to talk to people on campus and in town about climate change since it can tend to be a touchy subject with some people. Though it has been a challenge, it is also very exciting to figure out how to solve this issue because it is one that we will be facing a lot more.

Another issue that we are faced with is figuring out whether to focus on educating about mitigation or adaption to climate change. After researching and looking at the reality of things, we felt that the best approach is educating people about adaption to climate change since we have already felt and experienced the effects of climate change and these events will only continue and intensify over the years. Our team is ready for the challenge and we are currently doing extensive research on climate change in order to come up with ideas for our next project we want to tackle. We can’t wait to see what the rest of this year brings us and hope that we can lay a great foundation for this team so future members will be able to continue the work we start and make a positive impact.

By Katie Gustin, member of Climate Action Team

An Impactful Weekend With C2C Fellows

Applying to Bard’s Center for Environmental Policy’s C2C Fellow’s workshop was one of the greatest ideas I’ve had in a while. The conference was held in Boulder, CO for just three short days. Consisting of a mixture of students from Boulder, University of Wyoming, University of New Mexico, Denver University and others from schools all across the country, our conference group made up a great recipe of creativity, excitement and inspiration. We were lucky enough to be accompanied by the Director of Bards Center for Environmental Policy the entire weekend and two other associate directors. As stated on the C2C website: “C2C stands for Campus to Congress, to Capitol, to City Hall and also for Campus to Corporation. C2C stands for young people gaining control of their future. C2C Fellows is the power network for young people with the wisdom, ambition, talent, and grace to change the future.”

Initially, we heard a lecture on why the earth’s climate is changing and what needs to be done about it to ensure we were all on the same page. We then tried some fun speed dating and getting to know the other fifty C2C fellows. The workshops emphasized that the climate change issue isn’t an economic, technologic or political issue, but a lack of leadership. The director, Eban Goodstein, explained that this is the time for political and entrepreneurial opportunities. Being at the C2C fellow workshop taught me that in order to be a leader you need a vision, a sense to know where to go. More importantly, you must have courage and know that you will fail, so if you do, fail fast and often. Being part of the program also ensures receiving two $1,000 scholarships, career advising from Goodstein in addition to MBA and Bard CEP graduate school scholarships. On the first evening of the conference, Alice Madden, the chair of Sustainable Development at the University of Colorado; Chris Michael, marketing director at BRITE Agrotechnology; and Chris Jones, the transportation planner of Denver, all spoke. All were inspirational.

One thing I learned was that in order to have a vision come true, one must have a way to fund their vision. We learned, when asking for funding, to tell the person or corporation, that you are offering them an opportunity to be part of a new idea or vision. Believe in the vision. If you are told no, ask again. I also learned that in order to be persuasive, the story must be relatable and personable. It is important to repeat, repeat and repeat again while still being humorous and genuine. Finally, ask for what you need from the person, whether it is monetary or emotional support.

Over the weekend, I received a unique chance to network with other people who all care about the environment as much as I do. Some people were more interested in business while others politics and some, like myself, who still didn’t really know what they wanted to do. However, this weekend helped inspire and steer us towards leading in whatever it is we may do.

boulder, colorado

The C2C Fellowship conference was held in the city of Boulder, Colorado. Photo used by Fair Use.

There are still two conferences left this year one in Michigan (Mar 15-17) and one in Portland (April 12-14).  To find out more about Bard College, or C2C fellows workshops you can go to this link: http://www.bard.edu/cep/c2c/

– Kala Hunter

Environmental Issues the US National Parks are facing today

Experience Glacier National Park

Experience Glacier National Park, Montana

Have you ever been to a National Park in the United States? If not, you sure are missing out on the magnificent, breathtaking views. But, unfortunately, as a repercussion of our bad environmental habits, these National Parks are at severe risk of being destroyed in the future. These habits include: climate change, increases in water demand, air pollution, and adjacent development, just to name a few.

Glacier

Climate change is being perceived through global warming. Glaciers may melt away as they are at Glacier National Park in Montana. Also, fire seasons may grow in length and severity, shifting landscapes.

Water is becoming an issue as increasing human demands shrink supplies on which aquatic species depend.

An example of the air pollution these National Parks are facing is at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Park didn’t get its name for its smog, but it is one of many parks seriously affected by the problem. At Great Smoky, power plant and industrial emissions are blown by winds to the Southern Appalachians and trapped there by the mountains.

Olympic National Park Washington

Adjacent development problems are showing through housing developments and industrial sights, etc.

If we don’t take action soon, not only with the intent to help National Parks, but also the universe, we won’t ever be able to experience the enchanting beauty of these sights again.

What are ways we can help?

  • Reduce your use of petroleum, whether that entails buying an electric car, switching from a gas to electric stove or just walking or riding your bike to your destinations.
  • Say no to bottled water, and start using a canteen or water bottle.
  • Save energy by washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot.

Become active in the fight to prevent the destruction of the National Parks. Also, you can visit http://www.doyourpartparks.org/ to learn more.

~ Cheyenne Caraway

How can YOUR eating habits combat climate change?

Everyone always says that being a vegetarian is way too hard and that they could never give up their meat. That’s what I thought, and now I have been a vegetarian for the last six months, and it was one of the easiest transitions I have ever made. I initially made this switch for health reasons, but after about the effects of the meat industry on our climate, I figured out that I was not only doing good for my body, but for the world as a whole. Check out these statistics, and you might just change your mind too!

If every single American went vegetarian for just one day, we would save 100 billion gallons of water, which is enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months. We would also save 1.5 billion pounds of crops that are normally fed to livestock. This is enough food to feed the entire state of New Mexico for more than one year. We would also consume 70 million less gallons of gas that is normally used to transport the meat over 2,000 miles everyday. We could spare 3 million acres of land, which is a land mass equivalent to the twice the size of Delaware. Looking at these statistics alone, think of how we could save our world by going veg.

We could not only save on natural resources, but we could prevent a lot of climate issues that are happening as we speak. By not eating meat for just one day, we would prevent the exertion of 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. We would prevent 3 million tons of soil erosion and save $70 million is the resulting economic damage that comes from the soil. Each day 7 tons of ammonia emissions are let out from the meat industry, and we could prevent this pollutant from contaminating our air by just changing one meal! The most convincing statistic to me is that if every American skipped one meal that contained chicken in it every week, we would be doing the equivalent to taking half a million cars off the roads of the United States.  Researchers at the University of Chicago have proved that switching from a standard American diet to that of a vegetarian one is more effective than buying a hybrid car.

Looking at these affects of just one day going meatless, think of how many changes we could make to our world in a week. Knowing these statistics and seeing how much of a difference you could make on Mother Earth by simply changing your eating habits. It’s not that hard, trust me, you can do it!

Written By: Emily Griffin

What I Learned in McCarthy, Alaska

After spending a summer living on the edge of the Wrangell St. Elias National Park, I’ve learned a couple things about a simpler, less wasteful, more self-sufficient (and therefore more sustainable) way of life.

First of all, have a garden.  It gives you bragging rights as well as food.  Good food that’s not wrapped in multiple layers of plastic, that hasn’t been shipped across the Atlantic ocean in a gas guzzling ship, and that devoid of chemicals/fertilizers/pesticides (unless you chose to use that nasty stuff).

Second, park your car for several months and see what happens.  Pretend there is a river with no bridge across it between you and your car (it was actually for the most part like that in McCarthy).  A little biking, a little walking (sometimes running if you’re late) and “VIOLA”:  you won’t need to pay hundreds of dollars for those aerobics classes.  You may also get to see the way moonlight illuminates the surface of a swift-moving river, or smell the roses in your neighbor’s garden three doors down…if you would only get out of your damn car.

Third, pretend there isn’t a recycling or trash service FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE. Imagine that. Can you?  What if that service existed only hours away (like in McCarthy) and so you had to be a little more careful about your consumption and your waste or else you’d be driving 6 hours in one day to drop off your egg shells and old newspapers.  If the options were either burn it or bury it in your own backyard, I’m pretty sure most people would try to burn it.  Would you buy less plastic wrapped products if you had to stand over a smoking burn barrel once a week? …I bet you would.

Fourth and finally, see the people that are within a 5 mile radius as part of your life…after all what they do probably impacts you.  You are breathing the same air, drinking the same water, using the same roads, etc.

Written By: Andrea Sokolowski

Copenhagen Protocol

Oxfam Blogs Climate Cartoon

Oxfam Blogs Climate Cartoon

The Climate Summit happened October 27th in Copenhagen, Denmark.  The Summit is a precursor to the creation of the Copenhagen Protocol.  The Kyoto Protocol was enacted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in order to combat global warming.  The Kyoto Protocol has many critics due to some major shortcomings.  The United States and China were, originally, uninvolved which set back the effectiveness of the protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol set desired percentages for green house gas (GHG) reduction for all participating countries to meet.  Many of the projected changes in GHG created by the Kyoto Protocol are not on track for the end date.  The Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012, and the Copenhagen Protocol will begin.  The Climate Summit in Copenhagen is designed to create solutions to the problems of the Kyoto Protocol so that the Copenhagen Protocol will be more effective.

Nearly 8000 people representing 170 countries are expected to attend the conference in Copenhagen.  The conference will be powered completely by local windmills.  Connie Hedegaard, Denmark’s Minister of Climate and Energy, is the host of the conference.

The politicians will base their decisions on information provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which is based in Geneva, Switzerland.  The IPCC is known for its supply of information to countries around the world.  The IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for their efforts to educate the world about man-made climate change.  To learn more about the IPCC check out their website at www.ipcc.ch.

The conference will provide important planning for the Copenhagen Protocol and will lead to both climate awareness and future positive change.  This climate summit is the beginning of serious environmental change that will come when the world agrees to participate in the Copenhagen Protocol.

– Oliver Luneau