What to Watch: Two Shows that Inspire Climate Activism

January 26, 2021

A Streaming Video Review by Tamanna Mohapatra    Paris to Pittsburgh Available on: Disney+, Run time: 1 hour 17 minutes, Release: 2018 More information at: https://www.paristopittsburgh.com/   “We need a Transnational and Transgenerational approach to solving climate change.” Carl Sagan, 1990 Early in the movie, we hear this quote from Sagan, probably the most famous scientist of his day. It was was true when he said it and is even more relevant now. Every year since 1995 the global community has been meeting to agree on definitive terms to reduce man-made carbon emissions from our planet’s atmosphere. The latest meeting took place in Paris in 2015 with 195 countries agreeing to work on global climate reduction goals. But in 2016, the USA, under the Trump Administration, exited the Paris Climate agreement. The President told the world he was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.   The great irony and saving grace of that statement is that many states, cities (including Pittsburgh), and towns all over the US want just that…to be represented in the Paris climate, with or without the Federal government’s blessings. The film demonstrates how local governments throughout the USA and its territories are forging  ahead on climate solutions. They understand and believe that being sustainable is not a zero-sum game; you can have jobs and, at the same time, protect, and even improve, the environment. Sixteen states and  Puerto Rico have joined the Paris agreements, even though at the time the USA was still not part of it.   We are taken to Orlando, FL where they are testing floating solar panels, increasing local produce, and developing public transportation run on renewable energy. In Puerto Rico, we visit Casa Pueblo, where they are creating an energy oasis that can help other cities that lose power during the ever more frequent and ferocious hurricane seasons. The movie also shows us businesses working in this new reality, such as  Grid alternatives,  where they develop and implement renewable energy projects that serve economic and environmental justice communities, and provide workforce development that includes training people to go from incarceration to entrepreneurship.   While the film delves into the unsettling social and economic impacts of climate change disasters, its focus on local leaders and everyday Americans working on climate-related recovery and resiliency makes for truly inspirational viewing.   Countdown Global Launch, a Call to Action on Climate Change   Available on: Youtube, Run time: 5 hours 40 minutes, Release: 2020 More information at: https://countdown.ted.com/   This program is not a one-sit experience unless you plan sit for 5+ hours. But watching it will no doubt increase by fivefold both your optimism and your desire to participate in the climate movement. Presented by the ever-popular TED talks, this event includes more than 50 speakers, activists, actors, and musicians, who share actionable and science-backed ideas. It showcases solutions and actions being taken by scientists, entrepreneurs, local state and city governments all around the world, and the UN to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. The five curated sessions center around the topics of Urgency, Leadership, Transformation, Breakthroughs, and Action. Each speaker delivers a 5-10 minute TED talk, which can be individually searched by speakers or topics so you can view just the segments of your choice.  The program also intersperses beautiful art projects and inspiring music throughout the five hours, along the artists’ explanations of their work.   Countdown is an important reminder that despite the promises made during the 2015 Paris talks to increase our pace of action, the truth of the matter is that in the 5 years that have passed since the agreement, the majority of countries are not on track to meet their 2030 emissions goals. But, in the “Urgency” session, Christiana Figueres, the architect of the Paris Agreement, infuses our determination: “We can despair and plunge into paralysis, or we can become stubborn optimists with a fierce conviction that no matter how difficult, we must and we can rise to the challenge.”   The “Breakthroughs” and “Transformation” sections feature some of the smartest people on the planet, who are working on cutting edge solutions such as creating concrete that is carbon negative. In “How India could pull off the world’s most ambitious energy transition,” we learn how India is working to  transform from its current state of coal dependency into a clean energy country.   Actor and climate advocate and Countdown host Mark Ruffalo sums up the program’s message perfectly.  “If you are losing hope then you are not doing enough. Activism is an act of hope and hope is an act of discipline.”   Photo Credits Paris-to-Pittsburgh Countdown   Join us for two events on climate action!  GreenHomeNYC Careers: Community Action Tue, February 9, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM EST Register here. GreenHomeNYC Monthly Forum: Climate Action Movements Wed, February 17, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM EST Register here.