‘A battle by the human race to save civilization:’ A pitch to Hollywood to talk about climate change

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NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview application provides the capability to interactively browse over 700 global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers and then download the underlying data. Many of the available imagery layers are updated within three hours of observation, essentially showing the entire Earth as it looks "right now.” Suomi NPP is managed by NASA and NOAA. Image Courtesy: NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). Caption: Lynn Jenner

Millions of young people across the country and around the world took part in the Youth Climate Strike last week and international leaders were in New York Monday for the U.N. Climate Action Summit to try to rally support in the fight against climate change.

Some experts say that Hollywood, yes Hollywood, could help in the fight against climate change. We know the science and we have the technology to effect change; but we lack political will. According to Daniel Hinerfeld, Director of Content Partnerships with the Natural Resources Defense Council, this is where Hollywood comes in.

“I really view the climate crisis as largely a communications challenge at this point,” he says. “Entertainment media has a huge role to play, because entertainment media, frankly, is at least as effective, if not much more effective at changing people's attitudes and behavior than factual media.”

Hinerfeld says the real life experience of climate change and climate anxiety should be perceived in the media. “The very first step is to hold that mirror up to society and at least reflect the climate anxiety,” he says. “I think that they're almost an infinite number of fascinating stories to tell about it.”

The goal, ultimately, is to raise awareness and change behavior.” We have this weird cultural narrative in this country about climate. Mean first of all this is the only major country in the world where people actually still debate whether climate change is real. I mean the rest of the world has moved far beyond that. So I think that helping to change that dynamic is important. But I think that you know to some extent it's about helping people cope.”

Hinerfeld says that instead of apocalyptic futures, we have the opportunity to show people an optimistic vision where humans can actually get it right. This means showing “more utopian futures where people have learned to live in balance with nature, where we've allowed nature to restore itself, where our cities are efficient clean places that don't emit all sorts of pollution.”

Perhaps, we’ll start seeing more stories on TV and in the theater. “There are just a million possibilities and it's time for Hollywood to really put on its thinking cap,” says Hinerfeld.

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Chery Glaser