Today I announce the plans for a very exciting, ambitious new project, that I have been working on for some time: the making of a long international documentary about climate change. The documentary will be in English (yes, although my English is not bad, I will take speaking lessons) and hopefully we will manage to get it into cinemas worldwide and on television in many countries.
The preliminary title of the documentary is: The Untold Story of Climate Change.
Some time ago I was approached by Dutch journalist Daan de Wit (author of several Dutch books). He wanted to brainstorm with me about a “climate documentary”. A few weeks later he came back and said: “You should have a role in this documentary because you have been following the climate debate for so long.” So we sat together and drafted a first plan. Then we came in touch with one of the most successful Dutch film producers, San Fu Maltha (he produced the film Black Book in 2006). Slowly he also became excited about the project. We are still looking for a director. He/she should ideally be a native speaker of English.
Today we launch the plan for the documentary and we also start our first crowdfunding campaign.
We are open for suggestions, about the preliminary description of the documentary, about the places to visit, about candidates for becoming the director of this film and about the crowdfunding. Below follows a summary document about the documentary.
Please share this article in your network and consider to support our plan with a donation at our crowdfunding page. There is a second crowdfunding page at the more known GoFundMe website.
In case you would like to make a one time contribution, Dutch readers can also use the donation button on this website and pay with Ideal. In that case please mention “the untold story” in the remark field.
If you want to donate in a tax friendly way, please contact me through the contact field.
The Untold Story of Climate Change
According to many voices climate change is the biggest threat for humanity in the coming century. More droughts, more floods, rising sea levels, more hurricanes, more heatwaves, more wildfires, crop failures, famines, more malaria, millions of climate refugees, species extinction. The Great Barrier Reef will be gone by mid-century. Messages like these reach us almost on a daily basis. Scientists, NGOs, politicians, even big multinationals share a concern for the future of our climate. Everybody (including oil companies) seems to agree that greenhouse gases are to blame.
But are these claims true?
This documentary follows Dutch science journalist Marcel Crok on his visits to some of the places on earth that are associated with climate change. Along the way, he will investigate the central claims surrounding climate change. Is the climate really getting more extreme? Are many parts of the world already suffering from (global) climate change or do other more local factors dominate? What policy would benefit (local) people most?
By asking these recurring questions and by interviewing scientists with relevant expertise, the documentary asks some of the vital questions surrounding climate change. Is the climate changing and how unique are these changes in a historical context? Are the current changes happening fast? What is the evidence that the changes are caused by CO2? Is the effect of CO2 large or small? How much warming will we get in the future? Is this a problem? Is the climate getting more extreme? Is sea level rising at an accelerated rate? What can we do about climate change? Does it make sense to try to mitigate it? Or could the cure (climate policy) be worse than the disease (climate change itself)?
Marcel Crok started working on the climate issue in 2004, with a long and award-winning article on the notorious Hockey Stick graph. Based on the published work of two Canadian scientists he explained that this graph, that was supposed to show unprecedented warming in a historical context and played a prominent role in the 2001 third report of the UN Climate Panel IPCC, was unreliable. Crok was immediately framed as a “skeptic”, a response that intrigued him and made him decide to look at other claims in the climate debate. Since then he has worked full time on the climate issue and he published a book in 2010 (in Dutch) entitled The State of the Climate.
Potential places to visit:
1) Canada or Alaska: how are the polar bears – a poster child for climate change – doing? Filming polar bear habitat and talking to local people (Inuit) and how they think about the issue.
2) California: to look at the devastating effects and potential causes of wildfires
3) New Orleans or Florida: to film the impact of hurricanes and evaluate the science behind it.
4) Tuvalu or Maldives: is sea level rise drowning these islands?
5) Jakarta or Bangladesh: is sea level rise a threat for these places and is CO2 to blame? What can people do about it?
6) Sahel: this area suffered from drought in the seventies. But since then things seems to have improved. Is this the greening effect of CO2 or are other factors (e.g. precipitation) more important?
7) The Philippines: we visit the area that was struck by Typhoon Haiyan which tragically killed more than 6000 people. What happened exactly on the ground and how can The Philippines prepare for the next typhoon that one day will take place?
Many of the people interviewed in the documentary (including Crok himself) have been framed as climate change sceptics or even ‘deniers’, although many of them fully acknowledge climate change and at least some role for CO2 – or even a large one. So the documentary ultimately needs to answer questions like: why are people asking difficult questions about climate change or climate policy dismissed as ‘deniers’? What is the goal of doing this and what are the consequences, both for these ‘heretics’ themselves and for the broader conversation surrounding climate change?
Solar and wind
Since the world started its long fight against global warming in 1992 (with the Rio conference), the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has steadily increased. So far, all the talking has had little to no effect on the CO2 in the atmosphere. What is going on? Is the world not taking climate change seriously? Or is the problem just too difficult to tackle?
Many people believe that we can solve the climate problem by simply replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources like solar, wind and biomass. However, so far, countries that have invested heavily in renewables, like Germany, have made little progress in reducing CO2. On the other hand, countries with a lot of nuclear power stations, like France, are doing pretty well. Recently, the IPCC concluded that in order to keep the global temperature increase to below 1.5 or 2 degrees we will need much more nuclear power and also CCS (carbon capture and storage). However, among climate activists, both nuclear and CCS are taboo.
Mitigation or adaptation
The documentary will end with a discussion of whether it is better to deal with climate change through mitigation (CO2 reduction) or adaptation. From the start mitigation has been the preferred policy choice and for a long time adaptation was more or less a taboo. But adaptation can bring benefits in the short term while the benefits of mitigation are more uncertain and will only be won in the longer term, if at all.
Discussing the role of nuclear energy in the package of mitigation measures is very enlightening, because most experts acknowledge that nuclear has a role to play in CO2 reduction but many climate activists reject it outright. Are these people really concerned about the climate or do they have some other (hidden) goal and if so what might that be?
Working Title: The Untold Story of Climate Change
Language: English (Dutch subtitling)
Planning: Spring 2020
Preliminary Budget: 200.000-300.000 euro
Producer: San Fu Maltha
Interviewer: Marcel Crok
Research: Marcel Crok, Daan de Wit