Something to act on.

I disliked the whole climate change argument.  Up until very recently I had lent towards the sceptical side of the debate, that the change was a natural phenomenon and mankind’s influence was coincidental.

That perspective, that ‘you can’t prove it anyway’ and the attacks on the credibility of environmental activists, on people like Al Gore with his film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ seem to me now to be nothing more than petty, crass ignorance.  I am by nature cynical, but right now, I’m glad that I live in a city on a hill, rather than right by the waterfront.

Why the volte-face?  Last night, purely by chance, I found myself joining two friends of mine at a special screening of a film by French photographer Yan Arthus Bertrand.  The film is called Home, and it is the story of our world, and the impact of mankind, told through aerial photography and recordings made over the past three years.  It is one of the most breathtaking examples of cinematography – and I suppose documentary – that I have seen to date.  Attenborough would be impressed.

Whilst I found that the narration – and the film’s length – did perhaps belabour the point, by the end of the screening something subtle had changed in my head.  I realised that the cynics and ‘deniers’ of climate change are deluding themselves and helping put our entire existence at risk; not only ours but that of millions of species of life.  A new-found understanding of how life began and the process that led to our existence being possible, the role of carbon dioxide in the air and carbon in the earth, brought with it an appreciation of how fragile the balance is.  Whether or not we truly have but ten years to make a difference before the environmental landscape is put on a path to irrevocable change is almost irrelevant.  The impact of what we do and how we live our lives on the rest of the world is devastating; for that reason alone we should take heed.

The film is not there to terrify us into belief; it is here to give us hope.  To show that there are actions, however small or large, that we can take to make things better.  Yan Arthus Bertrand kindly attended the screening and was available for a Q&A session afterwards.  I don’t know if I was simply feeling cheeky or just wanted to raise the issue, but the issue of carbon in our history and how we use it now was a key theme of the film, so it seemed fitting to ask what steps he had taken to ensure that the film – and his travels – were carbon neutral.  He replied, very affably, that he had offset all the emissions from the film and he was continuing to try to offset all the carbon he had accumulated throughout his career; he was a long way off yet, but he would do it.

When he spoke, he didn’t preach.  This wasn’t a stage for him to tell us how evil we were, mankind, for destroying our world.  He was not an angry pastor giving sermon.  This was a man who has lived in our world, who has seen its beauty and how fragile the balance is, and this film was his way of sharing that with us.  He was clear: This is our film.  This is our world.  It is for us.  It is his hope that we see this film and are moved by it, that we might make some small change that will help shift mankind back into balance with the world we have conquered.

I urge you to watch this.  This film is free.  No profit will be made by the sponsor.  You can view it free, online, here.  If you’re interested in finding out more about the foundation Yan has created and chairs, you can visit the Good Planet website.

This is a bit off topic for me, I admit, but I hope you’ll take the time to learn something.  I don’t know if my flight to Tennessee will be offset, but I intend to find out.  If it isn’t, I’m going to make sure that I do something.  That’s my first step.

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