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Environmental Issues

Environmental Issues


Directed by Ian Cheney

Contrasts sci-fi ideas about terraforming Mars with the state of NYC's waterways, and questions the viability of colonizing Mars before making our own planet sustainable.

Could humans live on Mars? Would we want to? Emmy-nominated filmmaker, Ian Cheney, provides insight into our currently unsustainable relationship with our home planet by examining the sci-fi speculation of "terraforming," or making another planet Earth-like, by altering its atmosphere. He calls on a multifaceted brain trust to process this big idea including a desert camp of Mars hopefuls, a bevy of sci-fi writers, Hurricane Sandy survivors, the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, and a who's who of astrobiologists and earth scientists. BLUESPACE makes a strong case for taking better care of our water-rich planet so that future generations won't have to resort to interplanetary colonization.

At times whimsical and funny, serious and poignant and always stimulating, this is a unique exploration of current thinking about the origins and evolution of life and its relationship to water.

DVD / 2016 / (Grades 10 -12, College, Adults) / 73 minutes

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Directed by Melissa Young, Mark Dworkin

On South Whidbey Island, WA, a school farm shows that a garden can be a valuable addition to the curriculum while encouraging a healthy diet.

On South Whidbey Island in the state of Washington, a school farm involves children from kindergarten through high school in every phase of raising organic vegetables as part of their school experience. Supported by local non-profits, community volunteers, and the school district, it shows that a garden can be a valuable addition to a school curriculum, while encouraging children to eat healthy food. The school farm sells local, organic produce to the school cafeterias and also supplies the local food bank and community nutrition programs with fresh organic produce throughout the growing season.

DVD / 2016 / (Grades 4-12, College, Adults) / 23 minutes

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Directed by Derek Hallquist

A unique film about the filmmaker's father, a utility executive and smart grid pioneer in a nation in denial about climate change, who battles his own denial about his true identity.

Every day our changing climate pushes us closer to an environmental catastrophe, but for most the problem is easy to ignore. As people we often find it difficult to face change. We'd rather be in denial.

David Hallquist, CEO of a Vermont utility, has made it his mission to take on one of the US's largest contributors to this global crisis, our outdated and vulnerable electric grid. Under David's leadership his utility was one of the first to implement a smart grid. In order to make the widespread use of renewable energy sources practical, David argues, we first have to build a smart grid which uses digital communications technology to detect and react to local changes in usage, thereby decreasing outages and increasing efficiency.

But when his filmmaker son, Derek, tries to tell his father's story, the film is soon derailed by a staggering family secret, one that forces Derek and David to turn their attention toward a much more personal struggle, one that can no longer be denied. With stunning access to intimate family moments and behind-the-scenes energy deals, and with unique humor in the face of overwhelming events, DENIAL manages to present insights into two important topics - one global and one personal - through a funny, informational, and enormously compelling personal narrative, and at the same time to throw light on the messy business of change.

DVD / 2016 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adults) / 92 minutes

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Directed by Josh Fox, Steve Liptay

Chronicles 350.org's 'Do the Math' bus tour as it launched the fossil fuel divestment campaign onto the national and ultimately international stage.

As world governments struggle to meet the aspirational limit of 1.5 Degrees of global warming agreed to at COP21 in Paris, a new campaign is targeting the fossil fuel industry in an effort to withdraw its social license to operate. DIVEST! Chronicles 350.org's 'Do the Math' bus tour across the United States in 2012 as it launched the fossil fuel divestment campaign onto the national and ultimately international stage.

Each night Bill McKibben and special guests laid out the findings in his landmark Rolling Stone article 'Global Warming's Terrifying New Math' and made both the moral and historical case for divestment. Three years later over 500 institutions representing over 3 trillion dollars in assets have committed to divest. The campaign is winning, but with the clock ticking down the question remains: will the victories add up enough to matter?

Featuring Naomi Klein, Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Dr. Sandra Steingraber, Josh Fox, Terry Tempest Williams, Winona LaDuke, Desmond Tutu and Ira Glass.

DVD / 2016 / (Grades 9-12, College, Adult) / 77 minutes

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By Valentina Canavesio

FOOTPRINT takes a dizzying spin around the globe, witnessing population explosions, overconsumption, limited resources, and expert testimony as to what a world straining at its limits can sustain. We spend time with indigenous health workers, activists, and the ordinary people in the Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan and Kenya, women who all challenge the idea that our world can continue to support the weight of humanity's footprint on it. FOOTPRINT offers unprecedented access to the people on the ground who are all in their unique way challenging the status quo and making us rethink what's really at stake. There are surprising revelations on who are the players standing in the way of solutions and those pushing for it, without losing sight of the array of possible solutions that open up when we take the time to ask this critical question of how many of us there are in the world and what the Earth can sustain if we are to all live a dignified life.

DVD (English, Swahili, Urdu, Tagalog, Spanish, Color) / 2016 / 82 minutes

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Directed by Josh Fox

Oscar-nominated director Josh Fox contemplates our climate-change future by exploring the human qualities that global warming can't destroy.

In his new film, Oscar-nominated director Josh Fox (GASLAND) continues in his deeply personal style, investigating climate change - the greatest threat our world has ever known. Traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences and asks, what is it that climate change can't destroy? What is so deep within us that no calamity can take it away?

Featuring, among others, Lester Brown, Elle Chou, Van Jones, Elizabeth Kolbert, Michael Mann, Bill McKibben, Tim DeChristopher, Petra Tschakert.

DVD / 2016 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adults) / 127 minutes

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Director: Dena Seidel

A thrilling journey to the world's most perilous environment, Antarctic Edge: 70¢X South joins a team of world-class scientists as they explore the West Antarctic Peninsula.

In the wake of devastating climate events like Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, oceanographer Oscar Schofield teams up with a group of researchers in a race to understand climate change in the fastest winter-warming place on earth: the West Antarctic Peninsula. For more than 20 years, these scientists have dedicated their lives to studying the Peninsula's rapid change as part of the National Science Foundation's Long-Term Ecological Research Project.

Filmed in one of the most perilous environments on the planet, Antarctic Edge brings to us the stunning landscapes and seascapes of Earth's southern polar region, revealing the harsh conditions and substantial challenges that scientists endure for months at a time. While navigating through 60-foot waves and dangerous icebergs, the film follows the team as they voyage south to rugged, inhospitable Charcot Island to study the fragile and rapidly declining Adelie Penguin. For Schofield and his crew, these birds are the greatest indicator of climate change and a harbinger of what is to come.

DVD / 2015 / 72 minutes

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Directed by Sue Williams

Debunks the notion that electronics is a 'clean' industry by revealing the human and environmental cost of electronic gadgets that are designed to die.

Consumers love - and live on - their smartphones, tablets and laptops. A cascade of new devices pours endlessly into the market, promising even better communication, non-stop entertainment and instant information. The numbers are staggering. By 2020, four billion people will have a personal computer. Five billion will own a mobile phone.

But this revolution has a dark side that the electronics industry doesn't want you to see.

In an investigation that spans the globe, award-winning filmmaker Sue Williams investigates the underbelly of the international electronics industry and reveals how even the tiniest devices have deadly environmental and health costs.

DEATH BY DESIGN tells the stories of young Chinese workers laboring in unsafe conditions, American families living with the tragic consequences of the industry's toxic practices, activists leading the charge to hold brands accountable, and passionate entrepreneurs who are developing more sustainable products and practices to safeguard our planet and our future.

From the intensely secretive electronics factories in China, to the high tech innovation labs of Silicon Valley, DEATH BY DESIGN tells a story of environmental degradation, of health tragedies, and the fast-approaching tipping point between consumerism and sustainability.

DVD / 2015 / (Grades 7-9, College, Adults) / 73 minutes

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By Jane Caputi

FEED THE GREEN: FEMINIST VOICES FOR THE EARTH, by Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies professor and scholar Jane Caputi, challenges the cultural imagination surrounding the destruction of the environment and the link and influence on femicide and genocide.

No nation is immune to the effects of global warming, but the impacts of climate change are felt disproportionately by those who face racial and socioeconomic inequalities. In the US, African Americans, Hispanics and other racial and ethnic minorities are more vulnerable to climate change. Globally the effects from global warming are likely to be unequal, with the world's poorest and developing regions lacking the economic and institutional capacity to cope and adapt.

FEED THE GREEN features a variety of feminist thinkers, including ecological and social justice advocates Vandana Shiva and Andrea Smith, ecosexual activists Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens; ecofeminist theorist and disability rights activist Ynestra King, poet Camille Dungy, scholars and bloggers Janell Hobson and Jill Schneiderman and grass roots activist La Loba Loca. Their voices are powerfully juxtaposed with images from popular culture, including advertising, myth, art, and the news, pointing to the ways that an environmentally destructive worldview is embedded in popular discourses, both contemporary and historical. Required viewing for Women's and Environmental Studies as well as Pop Culture.

DVD (Color) / 2015 / 35 minutes

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By Denis Delestrac & Sandrine Feydel

"Buying landscapes, protecting landscapes, accumulating new landscapes - it's a phenomenal opportunity." -- Steve Morgan, CEO, Wildlands Inc.

After years of working to undermine environmental regulations, governments and corporations are starting to think about the value of nature - and how they can profit from it.

BANKING NATURE is a provocative documentary that looks at the growing movement to value the natural world - and to turn endangered species and threatened areas into instruments of profit. It's a worldview that sees capital and markets not as a threat to the planet, but as its salvation - turning nature into "natural capital" and fundamental processes such as pollination and oxygen generation into "ecosystem services."

In the film we meet economist and former banker Pavan Sukhdev is perhaps the world's leading authority on the valuation of nature (one square kilometre of Hawaiian coral reef: $600,000). In his view, the best way to protect endangered species and ecosystems is to assign them a value - because if we can't measure the services nature provides, we can't recognize them within our current models.

In Uganda, we meet men who measure trees to determine how much carbon they store - and a banker from the German firm that sells the resulting carbon credits. Meanwhile in Brazil, steel giant Vale destroys rainforest, replaces it with tree plantations, and reaps the benefits of environmental credits.

Once we start measuring the value of nature, we can start turning it into securitized financial products. BANKING NATURE asks, can we trust the very same people whose management of the mortgage market nearly led to a global economic collapse to safeguard nature by turning it into financial instruments for speculators?

DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2014 / 90 minutes

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  • China's air and water crisis
  • Renewable energy in China
  • China's industrial development
  • The Chinese want the same life style as the West - but at what cost? The air and water are polluted, causing much suffering and protest - as well as a drought crisis. Chinese leaders talk of moving away from fossil fuels, but how much changes at local level?

    "THEY SILENCE OUR COMPLAINTS" The holiday resort of Hangzhou is supposed to be a model "green" city, but in the suburbs it's a story of toxic chemicals, corruption of local officials and suppression of protest.

    WATER CRISIS Over half of China's rivers and lakes are badly polluted, and the water table is falling. 300 million rural people lack access to safe drinking water. Ma Jun has created a website to shame the worst industrial polluters.

    RENEWABLES The experimental city of Himin Solar Valley is held up as a great example of sustainability - but is it too little, too late?

    DVD / 2014 / 28 minutes

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    Last Call examines the predictions and impact of one of the most important and controversial environmental books of all time, The Limits to Growth, published four decades ago.

    In 1972, the publication of the book shook the world, selling 30 million copies in 30 languages, and marked a turning point in thinking about the environment. Prepared for the Club of Rome, the book was based on the work of a team of young scientists from MIT who created the first computer model to analyze the interaction over time of exponential growth with finite natural resources.

    Their primary message was that the human footprint, if unchecked, would grow beyond the carrying capacity of the planet on a sustainable basis. They concluded that humanity must adapt to the planet's limits or risk overshoot, which could result in the collapse of global support systems and human decline. Their conclusions stimulated broad interest and significant debate, but not much action on their scenario for avoiding overshoot.

    Four decades later, the surviving authors of The Limits to Growth and the book's mentors gathered to assess their earlier predictions, update where we stand today, and present what we need to do now to avoid global ecological collapse in the next few decades.

    Supported by archival footage and other materials, Last Call provides provocative insights into the fundamental reasons behind the ongoing global ecological and economic crises, and a vision of a more hopeful future, if we commit to appropriate measures before it's too late.

  • Jay Forrester, Professor Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management, pioneer of the modern computer age, founder of System Dynamics
  • Dennis Meadows, Professor Emeritus of Systems Management, University of New Hampshire; author, The Limits to Growth
  • Donella Meadows, biophysicist and systems analyst, Dartmouth; author, The Limits to Growth; Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment; MacArthur Fellow
  • Jorgen Randers, PhD, Professor of Climate Strategy, BI Norwegian Business School; co-author, The Limits to Growth; author, 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next 40 Years
  • William Behrens III, co-author, The Limits to Growth
  • Aurelio Peccei, Founder and President, Club of Rome

  • DVD (Region 1, Closed Captioned) / 2013 / (Grades 11-Adult) / 90 minutes

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    By Peter Young

    With stunning footage of Antarctica's unique landscapes and wild life, The Last Ocean profiles the international battle over commercial fishing in the Ross Sea, the last pristine ocean ecosystem on earth.

    The Ross Sea is a vast, icy landscape that teems with life -- whales, seals and penguins carving out a place on the very edge of existence. This 'living laboratory' is one of the last places where the delicate balance of nature still prevails, largely untouched by humans. But an international fishing fleet has recently made its way to the Ross Sea, targeting the highly lucrative Antarctic Toothfish, sold as Chilean Sea Bass around the world.

    Californian ecologist Dr. David Ainley has studied the Ross Sea's unique ecosystem for more than forty years and knows that unless fishing is stopped, the natural balance will be lost forever. He rallies fellow scientists and builds a global campaign to protect this last pristine marine ecosystem.

    Featuring top scientists, including Dr. Sylvia Earle and Dr. Daniel Pauly, as well as international political leaders, the film examines both the science and politics behind the debate over preserving Earth's last truly wild ocean.

    DVD (Region 1, Closed Captioned) / 2013 / (Grades 9 - Adult) / 143 minutes

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    Directed by Barker White
    Narrated by Dean Cain

    Watching his hometown and its surrounding areas being desecrated by BP's massive oil spill, director Barker White was compelled to uncover the truth. Traveling thousands of miles across the most severely impacted areas, he interviewed key experts, BP contractors, government officials, fisherman and many more. Ride along with this team of emerging filmmakers as they unveil a shocking tale of greed and corruption, which culminated into the largest man-made environmental disaster in America's history.

    DVD / 2012 / 91 minutes

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    By Caroline Bacle

    Nearly every major city was built near the convergence of many rivers. As cities grew with the Industrial Revolution, these rivers became conduits for disease and pollution. The 19th-century solution was to bury them underground and merge them with the sewer systems. These rivers still run through today's metropolises, but they do so out of sight.

    LOST RIVERS examines hidden waterways in cities around the world and introduces us to people dedicated to exploring and exposing them. In Montreal, urban explorer Danielle Plamondon and photographer Andrew Emond follow the stony underground tunnels that contain the Riviere Saint-Pierre. In Bresica, Italy, a group of urban explorers conduct popular, officially-sanctioned tours through the city's network of medieval rivers.

    More and more municipal governments are recognizing the wisdom of these explorers and making their once-buried waterways more accessible. Drawing inspiration from Seoul, whose Cheonggyecheon River was opened to the public in the early 2000s after 40 years of being hidden beneath a highway, Yonkers, New York has committed itself to "daylighting" its Saw Mill River, which has been buried under the city's downtown for the past 90 years. In London and Toronto, planners are rethinking the way they manage their rivers for environmental reasons, responding to structural problems that have to increasingly frequent flooding and sewer overflows.

    As climate changes forces us to reconsider the relationship between the built environment and our natural resources, LOST RIVERS brings to life an aspect of urban ecology that has long been kept secret.

    DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2012 / 72 minutes

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    Directed by WANG Jiuliang

    Photographer Wang Jiu-liang travels to more than 500 landfills, fearlessly documenting Beijing's unholy cycle of consumption through poignant observational visits with the scavengers who live and work in the dumps.

    While China's economic ascent commands global attention, less light has been shed upon the monumental problem of waste spawned by a burgeoning population, booming industry, and insatiable urban growth.

    Award-winning photographer Wang Jiuliang focuses his lens upon the grim spectacle of waste, excrement, detritus, and rubble unceremoniously piled upon the land surrounding the China's Olympic city, capital, and megalopolis, Beijing.

    Eking out a dangerous living within are the scavengers, mostly migrant workers from the countryside, who struggle to uphold familial and cultural systems amid their occupation's Dickensian bleakness.

    Wang renders the decimation of once-essential rivers and farmlands in the backdrop of gleaming high-speed trains, stadiums, and skyscrapers; the sinister cyclical pattern of construction's consumption and garbage, and moving images of the daily lives of scavengers who labor at their own risk.

    DVD (Color, Mandarin with English Subtitles) / 2011 / 72 minutes

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    Many opinions have been formed about the impact agriculture has on the environment. This DVD describes and explains the truth about the livestock industry's effect on global warming and the greenhouse effect. Additional topics include deforestation, water pollution issues, animal welfare and the effects of meat processing on the environment. Various environmentally-friendly techniques and safety practices are also discussed.

    DVD / 2011 / 35 minutes

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    By Cosima Dannoritzer

    The Light Bulb Conspiracy uncovers how planned obsolescence has shaped our lives and economy since the 1920's, when manufacturers deliberately started shortening the life of consumer products to increase demand. The film also profiles a new generation of consumers, designers and business people who have started challenging planned obsolescence as an unsustainable economic driver.

    The documentary begins by visiting the longest running light bulb in the world, which has burned continuously for over 110 years in Livermore, California. Initially, light bulbs were built to last. But the film finds historical evidence revealing how a cartel in the 1920's decided to produce bulbs limited to a maximum life of 1000 hours, making the humble light bulb one of the first examples of planned obsolescence and a model for increasing profits on other products.

    Shot over three years in Europe, the U.S. and Ghana, The Light Bulb Conspiracy investigates the evolution and impact of planned obsolescence through interviews with historians, economists, designers and manufacturers, along with archival footage and internal company documents. The film profiles several well-known historical advocates -- Bernard London, who famously proposed ending the Great Depression by mandating planned obsolescence, and Brook Stevens, whose post-war ideas became the gospel of the 1950's and helped shape the throwaway consumer society of today.

    The Light Bulb Conspiracy also looks at modern examples of planned obsolescence, including computer printers and the controversy over the inability to replace iPod batteries. Environmental consequences are seen most dramatically in the massive amounts of electronic waste that end up in uncontrolled dump sites in Third World countries such as Ghana. The film concludes with examples of consumers and businesses moving towards more sustainable practices and products, including Warner Philips, great grandson of the founder of Philips Electronics, who is producing an LED bulb designed to last 25 years.

    DVD (Region 1, Closed Captioned) / 2011 / (Grades 9 - Adult) / 75 minutes

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    By Barri Cohen

    When Canadian filmmaker Barri Cohen discovers that her ten-year-old daughter's blood carries carcinogens like benzene and the long-banned DDT, she travels to toxic hotspots to uncover startling clusters of deadly diseases. Juxtaposing interviews with affected families and experts with startling facts and footage, this film offers evidence that industrialized countries are conducting large-scale toxicological experiments on their children.

    In the southern Ontario cities of Windsor and Sarnia, everyone seems to know children who have suffered from respiratory illnesses, leukemia, and brain tumors. And the Native Canadian reserve of Aamjiwnaang, ringed by Sarnia's "Chemical Valley", has an astounding birth rate problem that officials can't afford to ignore.

    As childhood cancer rates skyrocket, Cohen meets dedicated activists working for change and doctors and scientists connecting the dots between environmental pollution and illness. She also learns how fast barriers can go up when posing questions to federal authorities about toxins and health¡Xand how much information the government obscures from its citizens about public health. Empowering and moving, TOXIC TRESPASS is one woman's quest for truth and essential viewing for anyone concerned about pollutants' growing effects on our and our children's lives.

    DVD (Color) / 2007 / 53 minutes

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    In basic terms, global warming refers to a warming trend of the Earth's near-surface atmosphere and its oceans. Scientific study has shown that in the distant past global warming trends occurred due to natural influences; however, today, because climate change and rising sea levels have seen dramatic changes, and because human emissions of greenhouse gases have increased significantly over the past 100 years, scientists are much more concerned about global warming than ever. With the world's population continuing to grow, the demand for energy will only increase, which will continue to put a heavy demand on the Earth's natural resources. As a result, there's no way around global warming being a political issue, and, no pun intended, the debate about global warming continues to heat up. To remain objective it is key for individuals to know what is fact or fiction, which is the main theme of this program.

    This program introduces us to Stephen H. Schneider, Ph.D., who is an expert climatologist and Professor of Environmental Biology and Global Change at Stanford University; he co-edited the acclaimed book, Climate Change Policy: A Survey. Here he explains how individuals can determine what's truth and what's propaganda in the scientific wars regarding the environmental status of planet Earth.

    DVD / 2004 / (Senior High, College, Adult) / 30 minutes

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