A Monaghan View of Naomi Klein’s Film on Climate Change ‘This Changes Everything’

Recently hundreds of people gathered under a clear night sky in Dublin’s Merrion Square for the premiere of the film, ‘This Changes Everything’. Transition Monaghan members Mícheál Callaghan, Conan Connolly and Jennifer McAree were in attendance.  Here they review this landmark film on climate change.

The film is based on the much acclaimed book of the same name, by world – renowned author and activist, Naomi Klein. In the making of the book and film, Klein discusses how she had to address her own ‘climate denial’. For Klein, it wasn’t so much that she denied that climate change was happening, but more so a denial on how it would impact our way of life. For Klein, she went through a realisation that climate change does and will change everything, if it is unabated, and that it is up to everyone to become active in trying to stop it. However, while the science is stark, that we are running out of time to secure a viable future for the planet, ‘This Changes Everything’ attempts to galvanise grass – roots activists in a bid to re – write our prevailing economic and social narrative which in creating our environmental crisis, has also led to chronic social and economic inequality around the world.

The film itself was shot on five continents and featured struggles of various grassroots organisations against dirty energy projects. The common thread between many of these campaigners was not that they fitted the stereotype of environmentalists or ecologists, but that many of them were ordinary people who suddenly came face to face with fossil fuel energy projects which threatened their existence in places they had lived their whole lives. For example, Klein visits one native Canadian (First Nations) community in Alberta, whose peaceful existence has been severely disrupted by intensive drilling for a particularly dirty oil, known as tar sands. The film encapsulated health difficulties they faced, as well as battles for information regarding the project. In particularly poignant scene, members of the community are visibly upset and frustrated at the fact that they are refused entry into an area which their community had inhabited and visited for thousands of years.

The film also features a community in Greece who are fighting against the destruction of their natural environment. In the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis, short – term drilling and mining projects are being justified on economic reasons, despite the evidence that the planet must move away from dirty energy in order to prevent future economic and social strife.

Importantly, however, the film also shows that an alternative is possible. Towards the end of the film, focus shifts to clean energy projects, which have been particularly successful, for example, wind energy in Germany, where towns and villages control and benefit from their own power supply. At the end of the film, there was a call for all those in attendance to take up the call for climate action in Ireland. Slowly, but surely grassroots action is gaining momentum around the world. Thanks to the work of activists and ordinary citizens, universities, schools and churches across the world are removing their investments from fossil fuels. Recently, acclaimed academic and author, Noam Chomsky, stated his support for the divestment group at Queen’s University Belfast.

On the 29th of November, people across the world will gather, in solidarity with those worst affected by climate change, in the global climate march. Last year over 400,000 people took to the streets, the largest number ever to demand action on climate change. It is hoped that this year even more people will do the same. You can join in the march in Dublin on the 29th of Novebmer. Details of this will be publicised in this column and on our facebook page in the coming weeks. Finally, this December, world leaders will gather in Paris in an attempt to finally sign a new global agreement on climate change, that will compel states to cut their emissions to help stabilise the earth’s climate. While, there have been some positive moves by the USA and China, the view among the NGO community is that pledges made are still too small to stay below the critical 2 degrees Celsius threshold of warming. Therefore, everyone in Co. Monaghan can play an important role in ensuring strong action from Ireland, by attending events, marches, and most importantly asking politicians and public representatives to take strong action on climate change. If you would like more information on how you can get involved in activism in the lead up to the Paris conference, or if you would like to find out what Transition Monaghan plans to do, please see transitionmonaghan.org or email transitionmonaghan@gmail.com.

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