Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A Change in the Weather

I don't consider myself to be the most intelligent of people, nor do I pretend to know what is going on in the world, either now or throughout history. If you asked me the dates of the first and second world war I would probably get them wrong and if you asked me to talk about George Washington or Winston Churchill, even Tony Blair or George Bush, I would probably get everything wrong. This is not something I am proud of. At all. In fact it disgusts me at how little I know about the world we live in and events that have led us to where we are today.

It is on my list of things to do before I die. To learn. More importantly to want to learn! I feel my failure to know anything about history all stems from school and my lack of interest in anything related to the news. I always saw history and museums as old boring places full of old boring books and old boffiny men who lived with cats who drank tea while listening to classical music. And as my mom surrounded herself with news papers and constantly had the news on, a very adult thing to do, I became hateful of it as acknowledging it would, to me, mean growing up. Something I have a great issue with.

However, since starting university and meeting people who everyday surprise me by how much they know about history I have begun to feel more and more uneducated, a feeling which honestly cuts me to the core, and from working with theatre groups on professional performances which involve a lot of research I have begun to learn and appreciate what is and has gone on in this world. Yet despite my will to learn I never seem to take things in and keep them there, locked in my filing cabinet of knowledge. A very saddening truth.

I suppose a lot of this blog today comes from my first lecture of the second semester, Directed Public Performance. Basically, two tutors direct twenty students as if they were a professional theatre company which eventually ends in a public performance. The tutors have the majority of the power in this module, they devise a new play for us, they decide on the venue and through a series of workshops choose what eventually goes into the play as well as ultimately directing it. For my group it has been decided we shall look at climate change and the affect of global warming, again something I know very little about.

Until today at least...

As part of our lecture we watched a film documentary called The Age of Stupid (2009) it is set in 2050 with a man looking back through archives which have been stored after the destruction of the planet. Made up by a series of documentaries and cartoon animations it explains everything about climate change, what started it, what continues to help it grow and what will happen if we do not do anything about it.

The figures are quite shocking:
- The French glaciers are melting between 7 to 10 meters a year
- In 50 years half of the existing ski resorts will close down if climate change does not stop
- Because gas isn't transportable waste gas is destroyed in Nigeria via flares. These flares produce 70 million tons of carbon per year, the equivalent of 10 million British homes
- America use twice the amount of energy the UK and Europe use, 9 more than India and 50 more that Kenya
- 80% of our carbon footprint needs to be cut by 2050
- In China 1 new power station is made every 4 days
- 9 wind turbines will produce enough energy to power 11 thousand British homes, yet most communities do not want them for fear they will "spoil the view"

These are just some of the figure given throughout the film, and some of the images are truly shocking. In Nigeria it followed a 23 year old girl try to raise enough money to train to become a nurse. In the town where she lived they had no hospital and no school, half of her family had died due to drinking dirty water and they were finding it more and more difficult to fish for food as the water was contaminated from oil spills. Their town was a central source of oil and Shell had promised to build them a hospital and get them clean water if they sold them their oil, yet three years later the hospital still remained some overgrown ruins.

Another story followed a man who worked for Shell drilling for oil. He was a survivor of hurricane Katrina, and had rescued over 100 people from their flooded homes after the devastating event, including an 89 year old man and a 6 month old baby, as well as the pets of the people he saved. His words and the images of the event were honestly touching.

In France an 80 something year old tour guide told how the glaciers have changed over his 50 plus years of touring. When he started you could walk over them on foot, now you must climb ladders of unbelievable distance, animals used to graze on the hills but now there is nowhere for them and he recalled comfortable summers unlike the ones they experience now.

There were more people the film followed and imaged beyond description but the film educated me on things I previously knew nothing about.

So I end this - rather long - blog feeling a mixture of things. I have started to educate myself on world wide events, which I feel is a very positive thing. I have become more aware of both the importance of climate change and also peoples ignorance to it. I have been moved beyond words.

I highly recommend The Age of Stupid to anyone and everyone. It is something we need to tackle, and it is something we need to do together because if we don't start acting soon, we won't have a world left to save. More shockingly, it won't be us who will have to deal with it, it will be our children.

"We knew how to profit the Earth but not how to protect it. After all our efforts the final act is suicide." - The Age of Stupid

1 comment:

Andy said...

Good that you are expanding your knowledge. You should consider having RSS feeds on your homepage with different news things.

Though one thing you have to do is always look at the counter argument. Especially when considering climate change... the things I've read points a lot stronger towards it being highly exaggerated... it's just more people are willing to believe it as they are scared. Don't believe what one documentary says... a lot of the stats are manipulated.

Without a doubt we need to look after the environment, but the extent of the damage we do I don't think is comparable to what they say.

A lot of the figures they use are based on... "In the last 10 years, the water has raised by x degrees... if this continues, in 100 years it will raise by 100*X" ... though this isn't strictly true, the world goes in cycles. There has been temperature increases and decreases much worse than this in the past.

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