New Documentary Gives the Facts About Climate Change but Few Solutions

Is it too late to stop climate change? Almost.

Polar ice caps are melting. The Amazon is being clear cut. Wildlife from orangutans to migrating birds are losing their habitat and suffering under the ability to evolve quickly enough to tolerate the hothouse their world has become.

“By the end of this century we could trigger runaway climate change that is … beyond our control,” says Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and the former Secretary of Energy for the Obama Administration, in the new documentary “Time to Choose.”

Why are we in this predicament? And really, are there any choices we can make at this point to save the planet?

The chief causes of this calamity, narrates actor Oscar Isaac in the film, have to do with what we use for energy, where we live and what we eat:

  • Burning coal, oil and natural gas emit carbon dioxide and other pollutants, turning the atmosphere into a greenhouse that is causing temperatures on Earth to heat up beyond what Nature can tolerate.
  • Urban sprawl forces millions of people to live far away from their jobs and the infrastructure they need to go about daily life—creating more demand for fossil fuels.
  • Deforestation, primarily to produce soybeans to feed to livestock, is destroying the forests that help moderate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing sustaining oxygen back into the air.
  • Industrial agriculture demands land and petrochemical-based fertilizers and insecticides to produce food for the animals we raise on the land we’ve deforested. Talk about a vicious cycle.

Here’s just one of the many startling statistics the film cites to make its point, delivered by sustainable food guru Michael Pollan: “It takes up to ten times more land to feed ourselves with meat than with vegetables.”

In just one state, Mato Grosso, Brazil, over 20,000 square miles have been deforested just to grow soybeans for animal feed. In fact, soybeans are the most prominent driver of deforestation in South America, while 30 percent of Earth’s land is being used to produce livestock— which by the way, belch methane gas, another potent contributor to climate change.

That loss of forests has shrunk drinking water supplies in Brazil. Forests both create rain and protect groundwater, so when forests are cut down, precipitation drops drastically and drinking water supplies literally evaporate. Footage in “Time to Choose” shows an expanse of cracked land as arid as a desert. The caption on the screen reveals that this wasteland is a reservoir.

Meanwhile, as the southern hemisphere’s forests are chopped down and the planet heats up, frozen water thousands of miles away in the northern hemisphere is equally affected. Greenland’s ice shield is contracting under Earth’s hotter temperatures, raising sea levels as the region’s enormous glaciers literally melt into the oceans surrounding them.

Climate scientist Dr. James Hansen predicts sea levels will rise 23 feet, threatening more than 600 million people living in San Francisco, Istanbul, Mumbai, London, Singapore, Amsterdam, Bangladesh, Miami and many other coastal communities. Meanwhile, extreme temperature shifts are triggering devastating cyclones and hurricanes. Remember Superstorm Sandy? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

After persuasively presenting the evidence that climate change is happening and why, the film doesn’t make nearly as compelling a case for the choices we can make to solve the problems. It highlights the need to transition to electric cars and to build more self-contained communities so that people don’t need to drive to jobs or social services, but that’s hardly enough to make a dent in the problem. And besides, how many of us can buy a Tesla?

Michael Pollan reminds viewers that they’ll be healthier as well as shrink their carbon footprint if they eat more plants and less meat. But he doesn’t suggest the best choices to make to get started.  The Sierra Club’s Michael Brune, another prominent expert in this film, says that renewable technologies offer a “huge opportunity,” but how is the viewer supposed to take advantage of it?

The “Time to Choose” website could be more helpful by providing specific suggestions to enable the public take the next step. Its “Paths to Change” section is too vague to get people to actually choose a wind-based provider for their local utility, for example,  while the “Resources” section contains promotional material for the film, rather than useful resources to help viewers choose among the generic options provided.

These flaws can be easily fixed by adding links to some of the excellent “how to” information organizations, like Brune’s own Sierra Club offers or how to take a stand in your own community with online petitions, like Care2′s.

Related:
10 Simple Things You Can Do to Save Money & Energy
5 Ways to Make Your Car More Eco-Friendly
Not a Vegetarian Yet? 13 Ways to Get Started

84 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Wendi M.
Wendi M2 years ago

TYFS

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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James B.
James B2 years ago

Part I
Deforestation and poisoning the environment with actual industrial toxins and waste, as well as permanently contaminating the planet with nuclear radiation, in addition to our government deliberately geoengineering the atmosphere, are REAL problems we must address for life on our planet to experience a healthy future. HOWEVER, the political cult ceaselessly and senselessly continuing to promote the now well instilled orchestrated hoax of anthropogenic climate change / global warming, is getting more ridiculous and desperate to maintain the narrative, which has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with the politics of human control. The talking points repeated in this article are becoming a mockery of reality, and those declining members of the scientific community still advocating the propaganda, has been demonstrably feeding at the financial trough of our criminal government and other globalist organizations. One can repeat ad-nauseam how CO2 is a life giving gas plants breathe, recycled through the bio-sphere as Oxygen and other elements necessary to sustain life; how the geological record proves warming leads CO2; as well as levels of CO2 in the archeological record being measured as high as 14 times greater than current levels, when life through the same archeological records was thriving; not to mention warming is in fact not even happening to any statistically significant measurable extent over the last 19 years.

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James B.
James B2 years ago

Part II
Sea levels are actually dropping slightly, though we still have the mindless repetition of completely unfounded hysterics of how the sea levels are going to rise 23 feet, etc, although no time frame is offered as much as in the past, since Al Gore emphatically stated in 2007 the ice caps would be completely melted by 2013. Of course, we can’t mention the inconvenient reality how the ice caps have actually increased by 25% over the last decade, we have an increased incidence of snowfall throughout the planet, and the population of polar bears have increased by 5 fold since WWII. The incidence and severity of hurricane and severe weather activity has declined over the last 10 years, notwithstanding Hurricane Sandy. Regarding livestock, I’m all for consuming no more meat than necessary, though a childish obsession with cow farts representing “another potent contributor to climate change,” is not only pathetic and absurd, but I would think an embarrassment for those attempting to promote the hoax on a more serious level. Among the ultimate objectives the oligarchs have in mind, includes a worldwide cap-and-trade carbon tax, to financially fleece world populations, and politically control humanity. You can even materialize the ultimate purpose of the cult leadership, exterminate most of humanity on the planet, and you would witness ZERO impact on the climate, but hey, we don’t nee

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Teresa Antela
Teresa Antela2 years ago

Anne Moran, I agree with you

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Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle2 years ago

According to that documentary, even we just stopped producing greenhouse gases today (impossible due to massive amounts of waste decomposing and fracking/drilling wells leaking methane) we are still going to get at least one degree warmer which will have a terrible affect on the planet. But we're not stopping and we are increasing. Fossil fuel companies are producing more fuel than ever before ever increasing. Our power structures are not just failing us. They have failed us. We are going to see at least several degrees increase in temp.. Catastrophic to most life on this planet. The wealthy elite are cruel and evil and do not care what happens to anyone as long as they get their profits. This sounds dark and ominous but so is our future. Each time climate scientists come out with their latest figures on global warming they find that their previous estimates fell way short. We're tripping trigger after trigger that compounds the global warming affect making it progress quicker than we thought. And as I said, even if today we just stopped in the attempt to save ourselves, we can't stop the massive influx of greenhouse gases from entering our atmosphere. We laid the ground work for this a long time ago. Environmentalists warned us since the 70s (some sooner) but we called them treehuggers and hippies and crackpots. And some of us still do despite the mountains of evidence. Dark and dismal. It doesn't mean we shouldn't do everything we can, in fact it demands we do everything we

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Mona M.
Mona M2 years ago

Thank you for informing us.

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Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

No time to waste

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Jo P.
Joanna P2 years ago

There are solutions and one that we can all contribute to is banning political government and the incredible waste of resources and money it entails and appointing a governing body divided into departments that deal with what we need in return for our (maximum 6 percent sales tax only - no other tax): education, health, infrastructure, judiciary, police. Then we can focus on the real meaning of being human in this day and age and sort our priorities before we tip the balance.

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