I was lucky enough to recently attend a Boeing-hosted pre-screening of the movie Carbon Nation, which is now appearing in a limited theater run.
Overall, I think the movie is fantastic (it is worth at least checking out the trailer above). The movie mostly focuses on what positive innovations people are finding to reduce our overload of carbon pollution. Stories are included on wind, solar, algae fuel, geothermal, coal vs. trees, forest carbon, grassland carbon farming, energy efficiency, Department of Defense energy efficiency, green building, building green retrofit, and more. The movie also highlights some large companies doing good, including Disney and Dow.
It’s great that the filmmakers don’t dwell on the negatives, but instead focus on the progress people are making. That said, they still inevitably couldn’t avoid all the daunting climate impacts, such as the dead zone in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oregon and the infestation of the pine beetle.
My only criticism would be that it makes the viewer somewhat feel like the technology and innovation we have today is taking care of climate change, when it most likely is not. But hey, let’s not dwell on the negative, the movie is very motivating and shows that there is a lot that can be done today to get us started in the right direction toward reducing greenhouse gas pollution.
What the movie does not do is try to change the public’s view on the issue of human-caused global warming. The filmmakers state up front that they don’t care if you think humans are causing climate change or not, they just want to show you cost-effective things people are doing that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They do offer a bit of “climate change science 101” at the beginning of the movie and sprinkle some impacts throughout, but that certainly is not the focus.
Afterwards, director Peter Byck took questions from the audience. He says he has a lot more material than he could include in the movie and thinks there is enough for a TV series. For example, forest carbon is mentioned briefly in the movie, but there easily could be a full hour-long show about forest carbon projects. If this TV series moves forward, I think there is a great opportunity for The Nature Conservancy to showcase some of our good work.
And something this made me think: there was nothing about adaptation in the movie. I would love to see a sequel about the good things people are doing to prepare for climate change.
Evan Girvetz is a senior scientist with The Nature Conservancy’s Global Climate Change Team
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