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In a recent interview, climate scientist Radley Horton of Columbia University shared surprising statistics on urban air pollution: several regions around the world (including the San Francisco Bay Area, Northern China, and Italy) have all seen, on average, a 30% increase in air quality within the span of several weeks.
Such reassuring news, however, has been overshadowed by rollbacks on environmental regulations issued by the U.S. Government. On March 23rd, The Environmental Protection Agency attempted to ease coronavirus-induced labor shortages by issuing a memorandum lifting penalties for companies breaching mandated waste management protocols. The globe’s panicked attempts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic adds another complication in the fight for environmental welfare and has ousted unprepared healthcare systems worldwide.
On Wednesday, April 22nd at 8 PM EST, PBS will be airing an hour-long special called Climate Change — The Facts. Hosted by esteemed naturalist David Attenborough, the program takes viewers through the issues fueling climate change and the agendas informing climate change denial, and highlight the consequences of uncurbed carbon emissions. Series Producer, Serena Davies took some time to discuss the new special with the Scientific Inquirer.
Climate Change – The Facts offers a wonderful primer for those interested in climate change and environmental issues. What were some of the inspirations behind the documentary?
Science documentaries often rely heavily on voiceover, but we drew on classic documentary genres that tell stories from the first-person perspective. As much as possible we wanted to tell the story of climate change through the voices of those who have lived and breathed the issue for years or even decades.
Throughout the documentary, both global and individual perspectives help provide a well-rounded understanding of climate change. What were some of the challenges faced during production?
Climate Change is a vast and often complex subject. Probably the biggest challenge in making the documentary was taking that huge body of knowledge and distilling it into an hour-long documentary.
What is the process for picking individuals to interview for such a comprehensive project?
We sought out individuals from around the globe who had played a significant role in the story of climate change. We wanted to make sure that as well as leading scientists we had interviewees from a variety of other fields, including for example Richard Lazarus, Professor of Law at Harvard University, and Professor Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science (also at Harvard) who has studied climate change denial. We also featured interviewees who had personally experienced the impacts of climate change.
Climate Change – The Facts touches upon a variety of consequences stemming from the use of fossil fuels including wildfires, dislocation of communities, and flooding. What other impacts of climate change were considered for the documentary?
We aimed to give a comprehensive overview of the impacts of climate change. One area we touched on is the impact of climate change on the natural world. Scientists are beginning to understand how climate change will interact with other threats to put increasing pressure on plant and animal species of all kinds.
Some of the most poignant moments in the documentary include footage of orphaned Australian fruit bats, and home video capturing a father and son’s attempt to drive through a Montana wildfire. What were some eye-opening moments for you during the making of Climate Change: The Facts?
It’s easy to think of climate change as something that will happen in the future, but that’s not the case. We are seeing its impacts right now. Whether in Louisiana where we filmed residents being displaced from the Isle de Jean Charles, in India where we met farmers feeling the impact of a changing climate on their crop production or in Iceland where we interviewed glaciologist Professor Andrew Shepherd at the site of a vanishing glacier, we could see for ourselves the impacts climate change is having on people all around the world.
Follow PBS on Twitter @PBS.
WORDS AND INTERVIEW: Aaron Tremper
IMAGE SOURCE: PBS
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