Tonight I was lucky enough to attend a premier of the film Shattered Sky in Washington D.C. as part of the closing night of the Environmental Film Festival. (Full disclosure: I was invited because I am friends with one of the filmmakers, Dan Evans.) Held in the majestic Carnegie Institution for Science at 16th and P streets with a following reception at the Bar at the Hotel Rouge, the film seemed like a good way to spend a Sunday night and catch up with some friends I haven’t seen in a while.
I am so glad I went.
The film–which will be shown on PBS stations in the fall–deals with two distinct environmental situations, separated by four decades. In the 1970s, when the hole in the ozone layer was first detected, the science showed that CFCs were the main culprit, and America and Americans led the way to curtail the use of these photo-carbons around the globe. Fighting against an indifferent world, many of whom had financial interests in the status quo, the EPA–under the Reagan administration–pressed its case hard. The climax of this fight occurs in a marathon session in Montreal when America held sway and the rest of the world finally signed on to greatly limit the use of these ozone-depleting agents. The film celebrates this moment in American leadership, touting the efforts of Johnson, Nixon, Carter and Reagan admnistrations. It is this battle–and the victory–that is the crux of the film.
Now fast forward, thirty years. Climate-change is today presenting even more dire predictions. But the topic has become a political tug-of-war. With the “ozone” problem, there seemed to be immediate repercussions for the public–such as skin cancer and cataracts–and the public made its voice heard through the marketplace, refusing to buy aerosol products, for instance, and forcing industry’s hand to come up with alternatives. The effects of climate-change, however, are not so immediate–and the possibilities of market pressures from the public are unlikely given our modern way of life. Plus, while we are enjoying this balmy spring, it is hard to imagine immediate down-side. But the down-side is there, and it is drastic. The film deliberately tries to skirt partisan politics; instead, it asks for America to take on the kind of leadership that it showed in the “ozone” battle many years ago. And it asks, because the situation is urgent.
Unlike many environmental documentaries, however, Shattered Sky does not leave one feeling helpless and doomed, but instead is full of hope. For if America was once able to forget its political differences and fight together to counter an environmental disaster such as the depletion of the ozone layer, it can certainly rise to the occasion once more.
The science is there. Those who oppose it, who try to find holes in the facts, do so for other reasons than truth, reasons that often deal with economy, industry, and self-interest. The film is riveting, rational and cautiously hopeful, even as it recognizes the possibility and the consequences of no action at all. Check out the film’s web site for more information. Check out its Facebook page. And more importantly try to check out the film.
The Shattered Sky web site is here: http://www.shatteredsky.com/
The IMDB review is here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1795650/
2 thoughts on “Shattered Sky–An Important and Hopeful Documentary by Steve Dorst and Dan Evans”
Interesting John…I’d had the exact same reflection last week…thinking how the times had changed and how, post Watergate, we had a collective disgust for money in politics. Now it’s touted like a laurel wreath when assessing the “success” of politicians AND movies. The fact that corporations are inundating politicians with money is now “the way it is” and polluters with much to lose, throw millions into the airwaves “smoke” to match the billions of pounds of toxic smoke and then ask us if we want to hurt “jobs”…and the cowering masses withdraw into powerlessness and/or apathy…the times that are a changin’…again…
Paul, you are right on about the money. That is the lynch-pin on which change now seems to turn. The film, and the panel discussion afterward, however, stated that this can be combated–that market pressure can make a difference. Not in the sense of individuals throwing away their spray-deodorants, but in restrictions and regulations on industry. And that must come from government. Surprisingly the CEO of Duke energy–now the largest energy supplier in the States–talked about “cap and trade” provisions like industry did earlier with acid rain and he spoke of wind and solar and coal as the only viable resources in the near future. (Two out of three ain’t bad.) It was a very surprising comment from a captain of the energy industry. Overall, there was a very odd mix of cautious optimism with real frustration in regards to the political will to do anything before we reach a tipping point. It was a night very well spent.