Apr 11

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.

Tomorrow’s US premiere is in San Francisco this Friday, 14th April 2017. Find the Tomorrow Facebook or visit the website for a full run-down and trailer.

Without question, this is absolutely the best and most creative film on the future of humanity and the environment.” – Paul Hawken, leading environmentalist

Tomorrow trailer

Tomorrow trailer

 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.

Land conversion for agriculture is believed to be the world’s biggest driver of deforestation, especially in tropical areas.

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.

Urbanisation is the process by which human settlements expand into the natural areas that surround them, leading to the removal of forests, wetlands, grasslands and other ecosystems.

 

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.

We’d like to thank Tony for his words and speaking to us. If you’d like to know more about Rob’s work you can visit his blog, website or find him on Twitter.

 

Apr 10

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.

Tomorrow’s US premier is in San Francisco this Friday, 14th April 2017. Visit the website for a full run-down and trailer.

“Without question, this is absolutely the best and most creative film on the future of humanity and the environment.” – Paul Hawken, leading environmentalist

 

Tomorrow trailer

Tomorrow trailer

Who are you?

My name is Rob Hopkins. I am a blogger, writer and public speaker, and the founder of Transition Movement. I started the first Transition initiative here in Totnes, Devon, UK, and also Transition Network, which supports the people in over 50 countries who are now doing Transition. I have won several awards for my work, including 2 honorary PhDs. I am also a father to four sons, a gardener, the director of New Lion Brewery, and was delighted to be one of the people featured in Tomorrow – I’m the guy with the £21 note!

What is your field of work?

I was a teacher of permaculture for years, before starting the Transition Movement in 2005. The area of my work is around communities, and the potential they have to organise and make things happen. I was struck that climate change felt like such a vast, existential crisis and that people were overwhelmed, and had given all their power over to leaders to sort it out. But I also saw that there was so much that communities could do. They could move faster, they were nimbler, they could be more ambitious. And that the projects they were doing were building connection, were bringing people together, and were reviving local economies. So for me, Transition is a movement of communities reimagining and rebuilding our world, and they are doing so at a time that desperately needs that.

Rob Hopkins

Rob Hopkins

Could you describe your connection with Tomorrow?

I had met Cyril Dion once before, but in 2014 he and Melanie came to Totnes to interview me for the film. I hadn’t heard of her before although, as her crew pointed out, in France she is very famous! So they filmed an interview and then went home, and I didn’t hear anything for about a year and a half. Then in December 2015, I was invited to the premiere in Paris, and it blew me away. I thought it was amazing – it made me cry at least six times. It was such an honour to see myself in it alongside other such amazing people. Its rise and impact in France, Belgium and elsewhere has been stunning to see. In France, in particular, it has been a phenomenon. When I go there now, teenagers ask me for selfies on the Metro in Paris!

Being part of it has changed my life, but more importantly, it has changed the lives of so many of those who have seen it. I went to several screenings in Paris in December 2015 and was amazed at how many young people there were. I asked them “why do you like it so much?” They told me that after the terror attacks in Paris the month before, “we don’t know what our story is anymore. Now we have our story”. That’s very powerful.

Mass coral bleaching events are happening around the world due to climate change

Mass coral bleaching events are happening around the world due to climate change

What are the problems facing your field of work, from an environmental perspective?

We are in a race against time, a race that we are losing. We are now seeing a concerted war on climate science, a rolling back of climate action and the deletion of large sections of the evidence base. At the same time we are seeing warming accelerate, Arctic ice in its death throes, all the impacts scientists predicted coming to pass. We also see our communities becoming more isolated from each other, an “epidemic of loneliness”, and communities economically left behind. Tomorrow is a film that says “it doesn’t have to be like that. We can do better than that”. I can’t think of any film that has more to say about what’s happening in the US right now, and more potential to inspire people with a new, more inspiring and appropriate story.

Do you have any suggested solutions to the problems Tomorrow confronts?

This film is full of solutions. One of the things that is radical about this film is that it turns what I call the ‘happy chapter’ convention on its head. That’s the convention where films about green issues are relentlessly miserable until the last 5 minutes when they say “ah, but we could do this”. Tomorrow gets the problems out of the way in the first 2 minutes, then they give you 3 minutes to let that settle, and then they head off to find solutions. No-one really did that before, and I notice that quite a few people are doing so since.

For me, the future needs to be more local. Climate change makes a nonsense of moving goods around the world in order to boost economic growth figures. The UK exports to Germany every year the same amount of potatoes as it imports from Germany. Let’s just email each other the recipes and make our local economies more resilient. Our local economies need to move away from their current move towards monoculture, fewer and fewer more and more powerful businesses, to a complex ecosystem of businesses, rooted in place and in the community. That’s a solution that’s better for public health, community cohesion and for economic resilience, and it is growing now, in many places.

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?

I have seen, time and again, the impact this film has on people. It gives them hope. It gives them workable, tried-and-tested solutions they can draw on. It’s a film about climate change they leave feeling great. It touches people deeply. The music is great. It’s funny. I think everyone should see it. Increasingly in the media, it seems like there is a general consensus that the future is going to be awful. This film confronts that head-on, asking the questions, ‘why?’ and ‘who says?’. The future could still be amazing, but we need ideas, imagination and inspiration – all of which Tomorrow provides in huge doses.

What has been most powerful about Tomorrow in France and Belgium is how it has reached a whole new audience, beyond ‘the usual suspects’ and into mainstream society. No ‘green’ film ever did that before in the same way. I hope people who see it feel fired with possibilities. Anything could happen from here. In creating this film, Cyril and Melanie have created something extraordinary, something really powerful. In the US now, people are being told that addressing climate change means fewer jobs, so we have to not address it. This film powerfully and beautifully reveals that as the nonsense it is, arguing for more holistic approach. It shows that you can’t tackle the food system without also taking on the economic system, and you can’t do that without also looking at energy and transport, and all of that is going to struggle unless we also look afresh at how we educate our kids. It’s common sense. That joined-up, holistic approach is one that people understand even if politicians don’t. There can be no more important movie being release in the US right now.

Final words…

Just that I am so pleased that Under the Milky Way have decided to distribute this film. I hope it continues to have a huge impact around the world. I think people will love it.

We’d like to thank Rob for his words and speaking to us. If you’d like to know more about Rob’s work you can visit his blog, the Transition Network website or find him on Twitter.

Feb 14

Today the dingo has been crowned the World’s Favourite Unloved Species, after two weeks of voting and some fierce competition. Here Bret Charman discusses his experiences with photographing this misunderstood yet beautiful species.

The world’s wild dog species, for the most part, are on a downward spiral – none more so than the iconic dingo of Australia. Unlike the profile of many of the world’s apex predators, many people still see the dingo as a pest species, particularly by some livestock farmers in the outback, and as such, there is little in the way of protection for this vital predator. Perceptions are starting to change though, as many have started to realise the species’ importance in managing the populations of rabbits, kangaroos and even feral cats.

Award-winning wildlife photographer Bret Charman spent 10 months exploring the south and east of Australia, getting up close and personal to these fascinating predators.

In 2014/15 I was incredibly lucky to spend 10 months exploring a remarkable country – Australia. The wildlife here is unlike anywhere else on earth, uniquely adapted to the diverse habitats that make up the Australian wilderness. Deep down, I have always had a love affair with the world’s canids and the dingo was a species I was desperate to see.

Like any of the world’s apex predators, there are fantastical stories about the dingo and their blood-thirsty habits. Headlines such as 6-year-old escaped by the bare buttocks from a dingo attack’, give an impression of a savage, mindless predator out to get the average person. However, when you dig a little deeper you realise that it is rarely the dingo that is to blame, and actually these wild dogs are an incredibly intelligent, resourceful and adaptable species.

I am happy tell you I have had multiple close encounters with wild dingoes, and I never once felt in danger or lost any item of clothing in the process. In fact, just like a domestic dog, dingoes give incredibly clear signals as to how they are feeling and are much more afraid of people than many would have us believe.

My first experience was on the western coastline of Fraser Island, I knew there were dingoes in the area as I had seen their tracks around a washed up turtle carcass. Setting off down the beach, following these tracks, I sighted a small group of dogs on the water’s edge around 300 yards away. I got low down so as not to spook them, but my efforts were in vain as they immediately clocked me and disappeared into the island’s forested hills. I thought I had lost the moment, annoyed at myself for disturbing them – as a wildlife photographer my job is to capture striking images but not directly affect the subject’s behaviour.

I turned my attention to the setting sun and after a few minutes I had that primeval feeling … I was being watched. I turned around and looked up towards the top of a sandy bluff. There were the three dingoes I had sighted only 20 minutes before, all three watching me intently before suddenly two individuals headed off into the forest. One lone dog remained and watched me … we both seemed to be fascinated by the other’s presence. Neither of us made any attempt to approach each other, we simply sat and watched one another for around 5 minutes (and in my case managed to capture a few images) before we both knew it was time to head home. I have never had an experience with a predator in the same way before. Neither the dingo, or myself, were afraid of one another, there was simply a mutual respect. There was a silent understanding that if we stayed put, we were both comfortable in each other’s presence. These dingoes weren’t the mindless predator I had heard so much about, they had foresight, planning and in-depth understanding of human behaviour. Of course that remarkable evening only left me wanting more!

The danger of getting involved in photographing the world’s predators is rarely any attack from the animal itself, the trouble in fact starts with the emotions that these encounters stir up. You get an attack of passion, an addiction! I was completely hooked, but I knew I hadn’t captured an image that reflected the true nature of the dingo. I had to keep trying. I had to hope another chance would come my way – luckily for me I was fortunate enough to capture the image below in a separate encounter.

I spent over an hour following this beautiful female as she went about her daily business.  I believe this image really shows the true character of a dingo – a species of wild dog that is perfectly suited to Australia’s harsh environment, a predator that keeps a natural balance in an ecosystem and actually controls the numbers of other pest species which are far more damaging for agriculture. Quite simply this species of wild dog is an integral part of the landscape and that is why it fits so comfortably across this vast land.

There can be no denying that there is always going to be issues with livestock being killed by dingoes, and this will always be a flashpoint. However, there has been some recent evidence which has actually suggested that where these apex predators occur on farms with livestock, the farmers often have better grass yields as a result of fewer grazers competing over this limited resource. This in turn increases the farmer’s revenue from the healthier livestock reared on this land.

Dingoes will always carry out the odd raid on livestock, but just as the wolf has transformed the landscapes of Yellowstone NP since its reintroduction, perhaps the Australian equivalent can play a pivotal role in the restoration of the outback. If all sides can come together and better understand the dingo and the role it plays, there could be unknown benefits for all involved. There is hope yet to save this iconic species, but if no one is prepared to make a stand then they could all too easily slip away.

Bret’s next big photography project is ‘Life in the Clouds’ – a photographic exploration of Ecuador’s cloud forests and the intricacies that altitude plays in the distribution of species. Find out more about the project here.

May 9

We recently caught up with with our friends at Voices for Nature who were keen to tell us about the unique and innovative work that they are doing to save Brazil’s rainforests and what the future holds for their organisation.

What is Voices for Nature?

We are a not-for-profit organisation based in Oxford, UK. Our aim is to inspire and engage people to protect and conserve Brazil’s rainforests through conservation story-telling. We believe that stories are powerful tools for learning and catalysts for change. We use literature, theatre and film to engage people in conservation and give a voice to nature.

Big

Aerial view of a tree in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest

Voices for Nature was formed in 2014 by Sigrid Shreeve, an environmentalist and campaigner who has worked in Brazil over many years. Voices for Nature employs students and young graduates offering them the opportunity to be creative and engage with conservation.

RainforestStories1

Sigrid Shreeve

Sigrid is the author of the novel ‘Jabujicaba’ which was written as an engagement tool under the penname ‘Rosa da Silva’. In the novel, Brazil is bankrupt due to the effects of climate change and the Amazon is up for auction. The royalties from ‘Jabujicaba’ support rainforest conservation through Voices for Nature’s partners the World Land Trust, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Isle of Wight Zoo.

What does Voices for Nature do?

Voices for Nature is an arts organisation which connects people with conservation. Our work is based on the eco-thriller ‘Jabujicaba’, which forms the basis of various initiatives. These include:

The Jabuji debates – a national debating competition for sixth formers in the UK. The competition is run by Voices for Nature and the debates are hosted by Eton College. The First Jabuji Debates final was in March 2016 with participating schools from London, Berkshire and Kent. The event consists of workshops, mini-debates and a public final debates.

Etondebate5

Debaters with Sigrid Shreeve

Forum theatre – we are producing a play entitled ‘The Amazon Auction’ with pupils from Wheatley Park School near Oxford, which will will be performed in Oxford Botanic Gardens in June 2016. As part of the performance two teams will ‘pitch’ to the audience to convince them to support their bid in a mock auction of the Amazon Rainforest. Performers will play roles of characters from the novel ‘Jabujicaba’.

Documentary film – Voices for Nature supports original conservation documentary filmmaking. We were executive producers of the documentary Uncharted Amazon, which was shot in an endangered part of Peru’s Amazon. We will be screening Uncharted Amazon as part of the Oxford Festival of the Arts in June 2016 and also running campaign film workshops for young people together with the charity Film Oxford.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 12.59.23 (1) copy

Voices for Nature workshop

Rainforest Movie – we have a big screen movie under development based on the novel ‘Jabujicaba’. The movie is a cross over between Apocalypse Now and a rainforest Erin Brockovich. The lead role with be played by the actress Yrsa Daley-Ward and the movie is part of our outreach and educational work, linking to the Jabuji Debates. The movie has been entered into Richard Branson’s #VOOM2016 to raise profile and help fund development.

Regua view

View over REGUA site in Brazil

Find out more about Voices for Nature

Visit the Voices for Nature website

Watch the Jabujicaba trailer

Vote for Jabujicaba to win #VOOM2016

Follow Voices for Nature on Twitter or Facebook

Visit the Arts Festival Oxford website to attend a free film workshop or attend a screening of ‘Uncharted Amazon’

Sep 2

What is SINNG?

The Student Invasive Non-Native Group or SINNG is a Local Action Group based at Cornwall College, Newquay. Launched in 2010, our goal is to increase awareness and reduce the impacts caused by Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) on native wildlife. We do this through practical fieldwork such as pond clearings, Himalayan Balsam removal and much more. We also continue to research the effects, spread and impact of INNS on native species.

Students clearing a pond of Parrot's feather

Students clearing a pond of Parrot’s feather

SINNG is mostly comprised of student volunteers from all seven Cornwall College campuses. We also have an international link with SINNG Helicon in The Netherlands.

My experiences at SINNG

I originally started helping out with SINNG to gain experience of working with children, as I want to become a primary school teacher. Therefore most of my work has involved the educational side of SINNG,  including volunteering at the ‘Saplings’ after school club, helping run workshops in schools throughout Cornwall and creating education materials.

At the ‘Saplings’ after school club we try to incorporate a broad range of INNS ideas. This has included looking at the effect pets can have on native wildlife if they escape or are released into the wild and become invasive. These after school clubs have also provided good opportunities to test out new materials we have made, including our Alien Invaders game and a game I created called ‘Guess Who’s Invasive’, which went down really well with the children, especially if they had played ‘Guess Who’ before.

During the school workshops that I have helped run, a wide variety of games and activities have been used to engage the children. Using microscopes and ID guides to identify invasive pond plants and native invertebrate always goes down well.

Local children enjoying activities at SINNG STEM club

Local children enjoying activities at SINNG STEM club

With the school workshops, the session is adjusted to fit what the children have been learning. For example, in a workshop at St Columb Minor, Newquay, they had already been learning about food webs, so we talked about the effect INNS can have on food webs and ecosystems as a whole. Using the invasive Australian Flatworm as an example, we showed how they eat native earthworms and the knock on effects that can follow. One important aspect of a workshop is showing pupils what to do if they find an INNS. On our website we have a ‘Submit a Sighting’ page which allows the public to record any INNS in their area.

How did it all go?

One of the great things about SINNG, is that I feel at the end of a session the children have leant something they didn’t know before. I think this is because the sessions are run in a fun and interactive way. Plus at the end of most sessions the children are tested, using our interactive activities, on what they have learnt.

SINNG pairs game

SINNG pairs game

Activities which require participation from the children, such as the bicarb and vinegar experiment, always go down well.

The most important part about the educational side of SINNG is that children can enjoy themselves whilst learning about important environmental issues.

Liam Burton

Find out more about SINNG by visiting their website or Facebook page.

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