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A New Way of Looking at Climate Change

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It seems that our lives are full of information on climate change these days. Commercials tell us what cars have the smallest carbon footprint, and there are reusable bags for sale at every store from Whole Foods to Old Navy. We listen to our nation’s leaders on the news, on the radio, on Oprah, as we are given the latest information on how the world is being changed by global warming.

And it is great to be informed. I remember as a kid being told to plant a tree or recycle my soda cans on Earth Day, and the discussion was over. Americans today seemed more in tune to the latest advancements than ever before. At the same time, though, how much do we really understand about climate change? Just think about the images we see and the words we hear: polar ice caps, solar and wind technology, clean coal. Some scientists talk about the climate change process in terms of decades rather than years. Unless you are an environmental engineer, you may wonder (as I do) how exactly individual lives, right now, are being affected by all this. We have heard the big words and topical arguments in the media, but how much do we really know about what climate change is doing to the lives of others?

The movie Climate Refugees looks at the issue of global warming in a whole new way. Utilizing experts and politicians as well as real people around the globe, this film shows how people are living with climate change. As I did a little research on this documentary, I was amazed to find that many people today are losing their homes, as their land becomes completely unlivable in a changing climate.

“We are putting a human face to climate change,” said director Michael Nash. “We traveled around the world, from the islands of the South Pacific to the coast of Alaska interviewing refugees on the run. Our interviews with refugees, scholars, and politicians describe the collision of overpopulation, lack of resources and our changing climate that is creating what is quickly becoming humankind’s greatest challenge.”

According to the makers of the film, the U.N. has now reported that more people have been displaced due to environmental disasters than from war. With no current action in place to offer aid to refugees, millions are left looking for new homes.

Luckily, word is spreading is about this problem. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commissioned Nash and others to create a film that represents the individuals who have experienced the worst of the climate change crisis. Climate Refugees will be shown at the Convention later this year in Copenhagen, but an exclusive university screening of this film will be held at Colorado State University this week.

The viewing of this film will be held at Lory Student Center Theatre on the CSU campus this Sunday, November 15, at 6pm. Tickets are free and open to the public, and can only be picked up at the CSU Box Office, located in the Lory Student Center.

This will be a test screening of the film before it is shown in Copenhagen. “The film is designed to spur discussion and debate about the effects of climate change on our planet,” said Patrick McConathy, the executive producer of Climate Refugees. “Colorado State is the perfect place to debut the film.”

The personal challenges faced by individuals today in the face of climate change is something that we all should be aware of. Knowing that this is happening now, not decades in the future, shows us in a new light the significance of the issue. The fact that CSU, a national leader in environmental studies, has been chosen to present this film is something to be proud of, and we should take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn more.

For another opportunity to learn about climate change this week, check out our Science Cafe tomorrow night with Dr. Diana H. Wall, director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at CSU.  She will be discussing  ‘The Dry Valleys of Antarctica: Soils and Climate Change’ on Wednesday, 11/11 at 6:00pm (arrive at 5:30), at Dempsey’s on 160 W. Oak St.  This is a free event where you can grab a drink, have a snack and get smarter.  All in about an hour.