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In today’s on the on-the-go society, we remain big fans of mankind’s earliest form of transportation – walking. It reduces air pollution and traffic congestion, improves health and fitness for individuals in the community, and it gives you newfound appreciation for an environment you might otherwise speed right through. For a sampler of the many things you’ll find when you’re out for a walk in America, check out this amazing stop-motion, time-lapse video.
Burning Ice begins airing tonight on the Sundance Channel.
In September 2009, documentary filmmaker Peter Gilbert (Hoop Dreams, At the Death House Door) joined more than 40 observers – including musicians Laurie Anderson, Jarvis Cocker, Robyn Hitchcock, Ryuichi Sakamoto and writers Suzan-Lori Parks and Andrew Revkin – on an ice-breaking ship for a nine-day voyage off the coast of Greenland with artist-led climate change project, Cape Farewell.
Their goal was to see, experience and contemplate the effects of climate change first-hand – and to begin a creative conversation with the rest of the world about one of the most important and pressing issues facing the future of humanity.
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In light of all the pre-Oscars buzz going on this month, we decided to share some of our favorite Green films. In short, Friday’s Focus highlights a few movies that entertain and inspire the environmentalist in us all. Starting with:
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH: You’re probably well aware of this Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Feature, featuring Al Gore and his tireless efforts to bring the reality of global warming to light. If not, go rent it now, before the video store floods.
KOYAANISQATSI: LIFE OUT OF BALANCE This 1982 film is less a movie than a visual tone poem. No narration. No dialogue. Just majestic cinematography by Ron Fricke set to a score by Philip Glass. A magnificent and thought-provoking look at the environment and our place in it.
WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? This 2006 documentary film explores the development, marketing, and systematic destruction of the General Motors EV1 in the early 1990s. This film is all the more remarkable given the number of electric cars now gearing up for production. Irrefutable evidence of the shortsighted nature of the American automobile industry.
Baraka: Much like Koyaanisqatsi, this film is notable not for what it says, but for how it makes you feel. A fascinating look at human society and our impact on the planet.
FOOD INC: As the saying goes, you are what you eat… and this film is an alarming journey of self-discovery. Food, Inc. reveals surprising and often shocking truths about what we eat and the mega-corporations that produce it.
THE LORAX: Originally created as a book by Dr. Suess, the 1972 animated adaptation of the Lorax (see clip above) teaches children about the environment and the dangers of capitalist consumerism. A wonderful, whimsical, and empowering classic. Now available on DVD.
ERIN BROCKOVICH: Starring the inimitable Julia Roberts at the height of her game, this film tells the true story of how a low level law clerk takes on a large electric utility that poisoned the water supply of a small California town.
PRINCESS MONONOKE: Like most of Director Hayao Miyazaki’s lush animated creations, Princess Mononoke transports the viewer to a fantastically imaginative landscape. In this case, we join a hero’s quest to end a war between the great forest spirit and an evil mining company. Mesmerizing.
Wall-E: This is Pixar’s animated take on pollution as a by-product of mass consumerism. Wall-E manages to talk about the environment without preaching – a difficult but definitely neat trick.
BE THE CHANGE: This little-known Canadian documentary recognizes the fact, as do we at GreenLandOceanBlue, that people are tired of being frightened, guilt-tripped, or lectured into become more environmentally responsible. You can be green and still have fun too!
This Friday’s Focus is FOOD. Nine delectable posts. And not coincidentally, you can purchase a copy of Food Inc. at your favorite purveyor of DVDs. If that happens to be Amazon, click: www.amazon.com.
Photo taken from the ORV Alguita
The following is an edited blog post from the Oceanographic Research Vessel Alguita. It’s followed by Steve Lawrence’s account of our journey to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. FROM THE ALGUITA: …after one attempt that caused the seaplane to bounce three times across the water before it found air and speed to climb back up, they aborted the mission. The pilot came over the radio saying they were unable to land due to the confused nature of seas producing large swells with only five knot winds. The captain said he understood and saw the rough ride they had with the attempt to land. And the pilot came back, “You should have seen what it looked like from here. It could have ended badly.” But all was not lost. The captain asked if the pilot he would check for any debris sightings. After making several laps around the area, the pilot came back on the radio to report they saw not one but two huge wind-rows of plastic debris. He started rattling off things they could recognize from above including a coat hanger. On his last lap around, the pilot preformed an air drop. The packaged contained something the captain had asked him to bring for a badly needed part for a generator. Thank you.
FROM GREENLANDOCEANBLUE CO-FOUNDER STEVE LAWRENCE:
17 September 2009
It is 5:30 am in Honolulu on this mid-September morning, the sky is dark and it is nearly soundless. Early, no doubt, but the energy brewing among those gathered is not generated from the airport hanger’s coffee pot. Indeed, the buzz this morning is all about the Patch.
We have come to the Kamaka Air Hanger with a singular itinerary – an historic, 600 mile flight into a southern portion of the North Pacific gyre, or as headlines across the world have broadcast it – The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. There we are to rendezvous with Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation – the man who actually discovered the patch a decade ago. This is an unprecedented journey, and we are fortunate to have secured the Billabong Clipper – a Grumman Albatross – the only plane capable of the four hour journey, the ocean landing and the return to Hawaii.
There are nine passengers in all, including a pair of students (one journalist, one biologist), an activist, an eco website editor, a mayor’s consultant, and myself, a filmmaker. We are greeted by Jacob Asher from NOAA, who confirms the importance of the journey and instructs us on how to observe and log debris sightings along the way. Mr. Asher has done his fair share of debris overflights around the Hawaiian Islands in the past few years. “Mark the latitude and longitude with accuracy down to the minute in the first column” he explains while indicating a grid which specifies commonly sighted items ranging from ghost nets to general debris such as plastic bags.
After a safety briefing, the props kick over and we are soon airborne, banking northward as the morning sun pulls itself from the vast Pacific and a morning blessing appears in the form of a rainbow. Mobile phones are soon rendered useless, due not only to lack of service, but the deafening roar of the engines that hoist the 30,000 ton craft.
We fly at a relatively low 1000 feet, which offers a much more intimate perspective that the typical 40,000 feet of a commercial aircraft. In fact, even before the island behind us has faded from sight, we spot our first debris – a loose buoy, now just another piece floating garbage being slowly pulled out to sea by the centrifugal swirl of the gyre.
As we all settle in, Hayden Smith is already at work. Mr. Smith, the activist, intently watches the surface below, pen and pad at the ready, tearing himself away from the window only to confirm coordinates with the cockpit. As a Harbour Master (that’s Harbour with a “u”) in Auckland, New Zealand, he knows the business of marine debris better than most. At the age of thirty one, he is a veteran environmental protector. With the support of the government his efforts have been concentrated on Waitemata Harbour for the past seven years. He hopes his meeting with Capt. Moore will help him better understand the Algalita’s research, and how he might apply the knowledge to his work back home.
The farther we travel, the greater the frequency of debris spotting. Log sheet notations range from ghost nets to bags and bottles – visible even from this height.
Tellingly, the most abundant animal life spotted from the plane are the many birds that skim the ocean surface. Three hundred miles from the closest land mass, the birds scan the waters and dive in for lunch. Unfortunately, what appears to be ocean life is often degraded plastic lurking just below the surface. Hundreds of thousands of these birds die every year from mistakenly ingesting these toxic remnants.
Three hours into the flight and the debris sightings soon develop a kind of rhythmic cadence. Surface debris flies by like confetti on the surface below, styrofoam cups, basketballs, bags, pure trash scattered in the texture of the sea. As the plane descends closer to the surface, the debris stream is a constant… 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4… 4/4 time beats of trash with scattered accents along the way. A sad song indeed.
In the vast blue sea, we spot the Algalita research vessel. Circling the craft, the pilots search for a window to safely land.
We are told to fasten seatbelts, yet in our attempt to land we are nothing more than a skipping stone. What looked land-able from a higher altitude is in fact a small but lumpy mix of swells. We pull up and the pilots take a wide lap riding a wind line. This line we are flying along is an ocean convergence zone — an area of converging forces. In this case, the forces in opposition are strong ocean currents. Along this definition in the sea, from horizon to horizon, is a line of trash. We stare in awe at what looks like the high tide line on the world’s most polluted beach. It is composed of a variety of plastics and debris, everything from broken coolers to milk crates.
Unfortunately, no camera can fully capture the sickening sight, especially traveling at our air speed. Every photograph is a blur. Yet one thing is perfectly clear, man’s impact on the once pristine Pacific.
Most remarkably, what we see is only the tip of the iceberg. This is only the surface debris. Just below the surface, the synthetics are mistaken for plankton and other edibles. It is no wonder wild life and sea life feed on it. Unlike the animals that live in and around landfills, these creatures have not been conditioned over time to recognize hazardous foodstuff. Since these species have existed, the food chain could be “trusted.” That is no longer the case.
The equation becomes frighteningly obvious. Small fish eat the plastic, medium sized fish eat the small fish, large fish eat medium-sized… and who eats the large fish? We do.
As we ponder the implications, the plane makes another pass at landing alongside Moore …. to no avail. The sea is simply too rough. The plane begins a gradual ascent and the realization hits us all. The disappointment is most evident on Hayden Smith’s face. He fights the urge to appeal the pilot’s decision. It was a long trip to be denied the destination… traveling all this way and just getting the post card. But, as Smith realizes, our safety is the primary concern… and we have in fact seen what we came to see. In this case the pictures do not tell 1000 words, but what we have seen is indelible.
As I settle back into my seat, frustration soon gives way to a renewed sense of purpose. People will argue that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an urban myth, they will dispute its size and density…. but there are eleven more of us who now know the truth. The Patch is real. We may not be able to fathom how it all got here… or how we might begin to clean it up… but we can and must take immediate steps to stop it from growing any larger.
On Board the Billabong Clipper
Pilots Mike Castillo, Lynn Hunt
Team Joel Clausen, Colby Munson, Keith Rollman, Hayden Smith, Ericka Staples
Camera Hugh Gentry, Bill Paris
GLOBe Steve Lawrence
With support from Billabong, Tenth Millennium
Plastic Pacific: greenlandoceanblue’s Excellent Journey, 9/15/09
On Tuesday, September 15th, film director and greenlandoceanblue co-founder, Steve Lawrence will fly from Hawaii via seaplane, the Billabong Clipper, with a group of planet-caring souls to an area of the Pacific known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Once there, the group will experience the environment first hand as they join the ocean research vessel Alguita, captained by Charles Moore – the man who discovered this once Texas-sized soup of plastic a decade ago.
Lawrence, who directed Disney’s recent X Games 3D, will produce a diary of the journey on film which greenlandoceanblue hopes can become the centerpiece of a global lesson plan to help educate students and the media about the growing problem of plastic waste worldwide.
On their flight to the Garbage Patch, the group will also be assigned the task of noting ocean debris with GPS units and the data they collect will be used to help NOAA scientists involved in at-sea detection and removal of large amounts of debris.
Credits: For more information about greenlandoceanblue, please visit www.greenlandoceanblue.com and for information about Capt. Charles Moore and Algalita Marine Research Foundation, visit, www.algalita.org.
Thank you, Billabong (www.billabong.com)
Photo Hat Tip: Splash & Play Seaplane available for purchase here.
This is the trailer for the film, “HOME.” The entire production can be seen in HD on You Tube. Click HOMEPROJECTDE.
The Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School produced this 10-minute film that reconnects audiences to the importance of the marine environment for all life on Earth.
TRUCK FARM is a Wicked Delicate film + food project. Combining green roof technology, organic compost + heirloom seeds, we are creating a living story about growing a little food in a big city. Each “episode” is a partial excerpt of a larger film project, slated for completion in fall 2009. Visit www.wickedelicate.com to learn more, and stay tuned!
The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world.
Seed Hunter is a highly entertaining one-hour documentary about a topic that’s vital for the future of our planet – finding the little seeds that may help save the world from its greatest ever crisis – a global food shortage brought about by human-induced climate change.
Flow is a 2008 documentary film directed by Irena Salina. It examines the global water crisis and presents a case against the growing privatization of the world’s dwindling fresh water supply.
No Impact Man’s #One Recommended Eco-Lifestyle Change: Stop eating beef. Worldwide, beef production contributes more substantially to climate change than the entire transportation sector. Plus, a diet with no or less beef is better for you anyway.
You can read No Impact Man’s entire Top Ten Recommended Eco-Lifestyle Changes list at noimpactman.typepad.com.
Hat Tip: Mike Wagner
“Forget buckets of blood. Nothing says horror like one of those tubs of artificially buttered, nonorganic popcorn at the concession stand. That, at least, is one of the unappetizing lessons to draw from one of the scariest movies of the year, Food, Inc., an informative, often infuriating activist documentary about the big business of feeding or, more to the political point, force-feeding, Americans all the junk that multinational corporate money can buy.” Read the entire review at movies.nytimes.com. Then see the film (skip the popcorn).
Food, Inc. (Magnolia Pictures)
Director: Robert Kenner
Cast: Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser
Plot: An unflattering look inside America’s corporate controlled food industry.
Just one post today. Put aside an hour and a half (we know, impossible) and watch the film. It’s called, HOME. The aim of the filmmakers is to reach the widest possible audience and to convince us all of our individual and collective responsibility towards the planet. For this purpose, HOME is free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because it is a non-profit film.
HOME can also be viewed via the official website:
PPR is proud to support HOME
HOME is a carbon offset movie
Namaste: Scarlett Wallingford
Environmentalist Leonardo (DiCaprio) has donated this autographed shirt to benefit Global Green USA – an organization focused on stemming global climate change. You can purchase it on eBay (current high bid as of 7:45 am, PDT = $147.50). If you prefer an Antarctica coffee table book signed by the actor and Mikhail Gorbachev, click here (current high bid = $405). Hurry, auction ends on Earth Day, April 22nd.
Visit Global Green USA for more Earth Day gift ideas.
San Francisco Chronicle writer, Justin Berton, reminds us that the charming and oddly romantic video of a floating plastic bag in the film American Beauty would be pure catastrophe in the eyes of an oceanographer.
“In reality, the rogue bag would float into a sewer, follow the storm drain to the ocean, then make its way to the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a heap of debris floating in the Pacific that’s twice the size of Texas.” Read the complete article here.
The Bostonist calls The Greening of Southie, “a balanced but incisive look at a complex issue that affects us all. “ The film, which will premier on the Sundance Channel on April 22nd (9:30pm, Eastern and Pacific), is a feature documentary about Boston’s first residential green building and the skeptical workers who are asked to build it. The doc – and the website devoted to it – are both worth a look.
Remedee is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young people discover their voices through media. The organizers believe that young men and women are capable of telling profound stories about their world. In this short film, Jacie Lemon and Sharett Brooks take an airboat tour of the Louisiana wetlands to learn about the consequences of the MRGO industrial canal.
With 26 time lapse cameras in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, Canada, and Glacier National Park, the Extreme Ice Survey – founded by photographer James Balog – is creating the most comprehensive photographic survey of glacial change as it happens. Behold: