Post Paris: The struggle continues

Dee Searle considers how communities continue to fight a losing battle against climate change

Dee Searle
Wed 3 Feb 2016

Anyone wondering about the scale of action required to meet the limited agreement from the Paris climate talks in December, should view This Changes Everything, the film directed by Avi Lewis based on the book by Naomi Klein. The film shows seven communities fighting to save their lands, livelihoods and environment from polluting projects backed by governments and big business that are hell- bent on making profits at any cost.

Lewis spent more than four years in nine countries and five continents, identifying and capturing stories that are both inspiring and enraging. They include Mike and Alexis, goat ranchers in the US state of Montana, who respond to the decimation of their land by an oil leak from a broken pipeline by forming an alliance with the Northern Cheyenne community. Together they organise against nearby fossil fuel extraction and bring solar power to the nearby reservation. Meanwhile, across the border in Canada's Tar Sands country, Crystal, a young indigenous leader, fights for access to ancestral lands that are now part of a restricted military base in search of answers about an environmental disaster in progress.

In northern Greece, where economic crisis is being used to justify mining and drilling projects that threaten the mountains, seas, and tourism economy, residents gather in a new social movement to challenge the multi-national mining corporation and the compliant regional government. In Andhra Pradesh, India, villagers fight a proposed coal-fired power plant that will destroy a life-giving wetland and they help ignite a nationwide movement.

The perspectives of scientists and campaigners from the global North and South are juxtaposed with the powerful climate change denial lobby, who use their vast resources to dominate politics and policymaking and shape public opinion. They are unlikely to give up in the face of government carbon-cutting targets.

Through it all, Klein's narration connects the carbon in the air with the failed global free-market-based economic system that put it there. She makes the case that if we are to prevent irreversible climate change we must face up to the reality that achieving the necessary cuts in greenhouse gases depends on fundamentally reshaping our economies away from lifestyles focused on consumerism. If we can't face up to this truth then we have already lost the fight.

To arrange a community screening of This Changes Everything, contact screenings@filmbuff.com. More information is available at: thefilm.thischangeseverything.org

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed – Mahatma Gandhi