Real Life TV Imitates Climate Art
A Good Morning Britain segment on oil protests and the disruptions they caused went viral this week for its apparent similarities to a fictional morning show scene portrayed in the satirical film “Don’t Look Up.”
Hosts Richard Madeley and Ranvir Singh reported on a shortage of fuel and panic buying in the United Kingdom on Monday. In their report, they highlighted protests where environmental activists from the group Just Stop Oil chained themselves to equipment at major oil terminals, temporarily halting operations. During the 10-minute segment, the hosts interviewed 20-year-old Just Stop Oil activist Miranda Whelehan, who was arrested and released during the protests.
Whelehan said that her group’s mission is to stop new oil projects. “This is the level of action that needs to be taken” given the science, she said, referring to recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which have emphasized that humanity must reduce the use of fossil fuels immediately in order to stave off the worst effects of global warming.
Madeley dug into Whelehan, saying her group’s actions were “nothing but disruptive,” and called the organization’s name “childish.” He later pressed her to say whether she is a hypocrite because the clothes she was wearing presumably required oil to produce and transport.
Whelehan, visibly irritated, said, “We’re talking about crop failure by 2030, we’re talking about people in this country right now in fuel poverty because of the prices of oil, and you’re talking about the clothes that I’m wearing?”
Lowri Turner, a British fashion journalist and nutritionist in the segment who criticized Whelehan and her group’s actions, argued that the protests are disruptive for people who have to go to work and care for children and elderly parents, belittling Whelehan for her young age and assumed lack of responsibilities.
Whelehan’s age, however, is what fuels her outrage. Whelehan pleaded that she and future generations will be forced to live with a potentially uninhabitable future caused by global warming fueled by the emissions from burning oil.
In an opinion article published in The Guardian on Wednesday, Whelehan spoke out about her appearance on Good Morning Britain, writing, “These presenters and journalists think they know better than chief scientists or academics who have been studying the climate crisis for decades, and they refuse to hear otherwise. It is wilful [sic] blindness and it is going to kill us.”
While on the show, Madeley told Whelehan that none of Good Morning Britain’s viewers had anything supportive to say about her or Just Stop Oil. Yet after the show aired, many Twitter users came to Whelehan’s defense and compared the interaction between her and Madeley to an infamous morning show scene in “Don’t Look Up,” a movie that centered around a planet-destroying comet hurtling toward Earth as a metaphor for climate change. Even the movie’s director Adam McKay tweeted in support of Whelehan.
MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan Show created a side-by-side version of the two scenes to illustrate the similarities.
Smoke Affects Monkeys’ Health, Even Before They’re Born
The 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people in the town of Paradise, California, also pumped a plume of smoke over the Sacramento Valley for two weeks. The haze covered the California National Primate Research Center during the peak of the rhesus monkey’s breeding season, creating a natural experiment in which researchers could look at how the smoke affected monkeys exposed in utero compared to monkeys that were conceived after the air had cleared.
Researchers from the primate center, housed within the University of California, Davis, grouped the 89 monkeys born the following spring into those conceived on or before Nov. 22, 2018—the date the smoke cleared—and those conceived after that date. The young primates underwent physiological and behavioral tests that showed that the exposed monkeys tended to behave more passively, characterized by gentleness and slowness, and had poorer memories than their peers who hadn’t yet been conceived during the smoke wave.
“Our work suggests that the first trimester is a particularly sensitive period for these kinds of events to have an impact on the developing fetus,” said lead author John Capitanio, a biological psychologist at the primate center. “Organ systems are developing, and neural connections are being made and so forth.”
More research is needed to uncover how wildfire smoke causes these behavioral differences in exposed monkeys, Capitanio said, and more research needs to be done to figure out how human fetuses are affected by wildfire smoke.
“That becomes hard to do,” he said, “because you don’t know when the next wildfire is going to be. You need to be able to kind of jump on things fairly quickly.”
Team of Women Could be the Last to Ski to the Melting North Pole
A new film chronicles the team of 11 European and Middle Eastern women who skied to the North Pole in April 2018. The all-female team remains to this day the last expedition to reach 90 degrees North due to complications posed by the Russia-Ukraine conflict and Covid-19. With a warming climate, the film’s creators warn that the team could be the last ever to reach the pole on ice.
The documentary, called Exposure, was directed by Holly Morris and will be screened at several film festivals this year. The story shows the women, many of whom were not experienced polar explorers, or even athletes, undergo intensive training for two years before setting out on their journey, during which they faced fear, frostbite and fast-melting ice.
Inside Climate News recently discussed the new film with Morris. This conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
How did you and your team of two cinematographers execute filming it in the severe polar conditions?
We had to do the same thing as the team in terms of pulling all of our equipment, everything we’d need in our case, camera, camera batteries, you know, everything. And so [the cinematographers] had to ski backwards and shoot, pull sledges and everything. It did get quite cold, 39 below, and [we] worked through a bunch of other roadblocks in our way. But, I think any hardcore expedition is just all about solving problems and being nimble and putting one foot in front of the other.
How did this being an expedition of all women from varied cultural backgrounds make it a unique story?
When women are dealing with things like their period, or humor about like, fibbing to their kids about returning, all these [are] things you would never see in sort of a classic male expedition film, frankly. And I think just the intimacy in general, I mean, not gender specific, but just to me. It feels like theirs is a very intimate story and that’s partly because that’s what we wanted, that’s the film I wanted to make and worked really hard to get that authentic audio and stuff like that.
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How does climate change fit into this story?
The jeopardy in the film is a direct result of climate change. You see the ice melting around them. You see their season delayed and their season being shortened, and all these things are a product of the climate crisis, but it’s sort of folding into the story. And then you hear the ice cracking and you see the fear on their faces and all these things, I think, make it very real.
Unpinning Climate Misinformation From Social Media
Pinterest has banned climate misinformation in user posts and advertisements, the company announced last week.
The pinboard style social media platform, which has 400 million users who share and look for home decor ideas, recipes and other lifestyle tips, updated its community guidelines to prohibit content that denies the existence of and the human impact on climate change, misrepresents scientific data, contradicts climate solutions that are supported by scientific consensus and misleads about extreme weather events.
“Climate misinformation can impede efforts to build a healthy planet,” said Sarah Bromma, Pinterest’s Head of Public Policy. “So we believe this policy update is the right move for Pinterest and is another step in Pinterest’s journey to combat misinformation and create a safe and inspiring space online.”
Bromma said that users are coming to Pinterest to find ideas to live more sustainably, as searches for “zero waste tips” are six times higher and “recycling clothes ideas” are four times higher than last year.
Although other social media platforms have policies around climate misinformation, few have banned false climate content, like Pinterest has. Facebook places a warning label and slows the spread of content its fact checkers flag as climate misinformation. Twitter offers “pre-bunks”—hubs of authoritative facts where people can seek out trusted climate information. YouTube, owned by Google, bans advertisements that contain climate misinformation and prohibits content creators from making money on content that contains climate misinformation.
Greta Leads an Army of Climate Experts in Her Next Book
Greta Thunberg is publishing a new book.
The 19-year-old Swedish climate activist announced on Twitter that the book, titled “The Climate Book,” will include more than 100 contributors “to create a book that covers the climate- and ecological crisis from a holistic perspective.”
Contributors include writers like Elizabeth Kolbert, David Wallace-Wells and Margaret Atwood, scientists like Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Katharine Hayhoe and Michael Mann, and activists like Bill McKibben, Sonia Guajajara and Ayisha Siddiqa.
The Climate Book is set to publish on Oct. 27.
Thunberg became famous at age 15 for skipping school to protest climate inaction outside the Swedish parliament. She was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019 and has written or co-written two other books.