Certain issues of today, such as climate change, need to be revisited time and time again, and stories need to be told in different ways but converging towards the same conclusion, until they leave a mark. Such is the case of the new documentary ‘Running on Climate’ by Vancouver filmmaker Robert Alstead, that addresses environmental concerns not just as a tale of woe and doom, but of hope and pursuit of change from the roots up.
It is indeed mind-boggling that any issues pertaining our survival are still a matter of debate, when the most recent Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2014 stated that our influence on climate change is real, and the recent anthropogenic greenhouse emissions are highest in history.
In other words, global warming is undeniable: glaciers are receding at an unprecedented rate, the ocean and atmosphere are warming, and sea level has risen and continues to do so, as the levels of emissions continue to increase.
Featuring Andrew Weaver, PhD, a Canadian climate scientist, Nobel prize winner and, since 2013, BC Green Party MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head on Vancouver Island, ‘Running on Climate’ ties environmental and climate change issues with politics in a way that could not be more complementary to the present day political Canadian landscape, and also highly needed as the 2015 federal elections are around the corner.
The message is unequivocal: With federal elections less than a month away and mounting evidence of Canada’s unfortunate contribution to global climate change through the relentless pursuit of fossil fuels, people need to pay attention to what lies ahead. From an environmental perspective, things will only get worse unless change is implemented, and soon.
But the documentary is hardly just a cautionary tale about global warming. Alstead tells the story of a community that has always had a penchant for living green but chose to turn greener during the provincial elections in 2013, while also telling the story of scientists turned activists turned politicians, and they did so as they realize the unfortunate metamorphosis of British Columbia, from green policy maker into a ‘carbon corridor’ for the export of fossil fuel, such as coal, liquid natural gas and bitumen.
That the story is relevant in the present political context is an understatement. What ‘Running on Climate’ does and does well is to show that the new generation of politicians are concerned with more than just politics. They are a breed that has been emerging out of deep environmental concern that runs invisible in the face of many of today’s government leaders.
In fact, they are coming from a place of need, knowing the science behind climate change and realizing that unless they get involved, whether as activists (or initially as activists, as is the case of Lynn Quarmby, PhD, SFU Professor and Green Party Candidate for Burnaby North-Seymour) or get involved in politics, change will lag or never happen, and neither is an option.
‘Running on Climate’ presents civil disobedience not as act of gratuitous bravery but a necessity seen by those who recognize that climate change is the unfortunate catalyst of the biggest economic and humanitarian crisis of our time.
One of the key messages that resurfaces throughout the documentary is that the choice is limited: we have to come to grips with our current situation or continue on the crash course we’ve been engaging since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution but more so during the last decades, a path that has lead us to infamously reaching the 400ppm in CO2 emissions.
And who better to address the current situation and become an engine for change than those who can bring facts and figures to the table. With the string of indignities that Canadian scientists have been subjected to during what has been condemned as unprecedented and profoundly un-Canadian muzzling, it seems fitting that the fight for change has to come from within.
Weaving details of climate change with a close-to-skin case study of an electoral campaign that took place on Vancouver Island, producer Robert Alstead and co-producer Jo Clarke have created the kind of pre-election tutorial we all need to revisit before October 19. We all need to know about vote-splitting and why ‘every vote counts’, and we need to see how a bunch of well-meaning ambitious volunteers can make green policies visible, rain or shine, so that we can run and influence our future come election day.
A tale of hope, ‘Running on Climate’ is worth watching and learning from. It debunks the myth of corporate funded election campaigns and shows how a cause bigger than life brings people together, empowers them to seek change and once they do, to keep on pursuing the one thing that’s worth everything to us all: survival.
‘Running on Climate’ is available nationwide in Canada starting September 22, 2015. Please stay tuned for further information on US release date.