This week Arkive is celebrating the US premiere of the environmental documentary Tomorrow, (Demain le Film). We’ll be featuring a guest blog each day this week, with documentary contributors discussing the global issues featured in Tomorrow.
“Without question, this is absolutely the best and most creative film on the future of humanity and the environment.” – Paul Hawken, leading environmentalist
Who are you?
Anthony D. Barnosky – Executive Director at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Stanford University and Professor at the Department of Integrative Biology, University of California-Berkeley
Please could you describe your connection with Tomorrow?
Along with my wife Elizabeth Hadly and several others, I was a co-author of the scientific report “Approaching a state-shift in the biosphere” (Nature 486:52-56) which inspired Cyril and Mélanie to make the movie.
What are the problems facing your field of expertise from an environmental perspective?
Most of my work has been on climate change, the ongoing extinction crisis, and the loss of ecosystems. We know the causes of these crises, and we know most of the science and technology needed to fix them. The biggest obstacle to solutions are the social ones: people need to be made aware of what is at stake, what the solutions are, and they need to be motivated to cooperate to emplace the solutions.
Do you have any suggested solutions to the problems Tomorrow confronts?
The solution to climate change is rapidly transitioning the global energy system from one based on fossil fuels to carbon-neutral technologies. For the stationary energy system (largely electricity generation), this can be done by a combination of solar, wind, wave, and hydro power and increasing energy efficiency in buildings. For the transportation system, it can be done by transitioning to electric and hydrogen-fuel vehicles, and a shift to sustainable biofuels.
For increasing food production—necessary to feed an additional 2-3 billion people that will be on the planet by 2050—the answers lie in more efficient production in agricultural lands already under production rather than taking over new lands that other species need, wasting less food, and eating less meat.
We also must stabilise world population below 10 billion people – what works for this is providing educational opportunities and access to medical care (including contraceptives for those who want them) in parts of the world where they are now lacking, especially for women.
What are your personal feelings on the importance of conveying Tomorrow’s message, and what impact do you hope for it to have upon the audience?
Tomorrow shows us not only what the world can be, but what it already is in various parts of the planet – a society where people take local action to solve global issues and thereby make their own lives much more pleasurable. Sometimes world problems seem so big that people lose sight of the fact that the only effective solutions start at home, in our own communities. Tomorrow reminds us of that, shows us the path forward, and makes us realise that the future can be as bright as we decide to make it.