The documentary Chasing Coral screened on June 9 at the Seattle International Film Festival. It was the first runner-up for the Golden Space Needle Award for best documentary. Some of the producers of the film are locally based. Much of the film happens underwater, where it observes the stunningly rapid bleaching of coral reefs by global warming. This footage was captured by a team of divers, activists, and scientists. The scale of the bleaching is mind-boggling in its speed and scale. And the consequences of the decline and loss of these massive living systems, which interact with other life-processes in the sea and on the land, are bound to be enormous.
Geologic records suggest that coral reef ecosystems matured 240 million years ago. If such is the case, then this vital ecosystem survived the catastrophe that dispatched all of the dinosaurs to eternity. But it may not survive 200 years of capitalism. This is why the games that Cliff Mass loves to play (yes, global warming is real; no, there isn't scientific proof that this or that weather anomaly is caused by it) are dangerous. What Chasing Coral makes clear in 94 minutes is there is no room for such games. And honestly, this is the only point I should have made in the long debate I had with him. Those who play these games are the enemies of the future.
Mass also believes we need to work with Republicans to solve climate change, which is wrong. A large part of the base that supports this party is located in rural regions, and receive reports about the world from Fox News. And many at the top of this party are paid by huge corporations to keep the economy as it is: running on fossil fuels. These "capitalists" want to avoid for as long as humanly possible the kind of massive creative destruction that would make their carbon-liberating commodities obsolete. Combine the top with the base and we have a major political party that will act on climate change only when it's way too late. Cities must take the lead on this issue. We can't wait for people in the sticks to get up on things.
The director of Chasing Coral, Jeff Orlowski, explained to me that he kept his film simple and almost apolitical because he wanted to reach audiences outside of cities, outside of leftist politics. He did not want to "preach to the choir." Though this choir (city people) is certainly more intelligent and responsive than any you will find in the rural areas, many within it are still not sufficiently alarmed about this world-changing crisis. Our cities are still clogged with traffic, and our public transportation systems are still underdeveloped or under utilized. The vast majority of people in cities and suburbs are dependent on cars. The sermon is clearly not reaching them. It's not loud enough. Orlowski, and even more so Mass, needs to focus on those who are certainly slow in the going but not nearly as slow as those whose primary source of information is Fox News.
Chasing Choral will be available on Netflix on July 14.