Harrison Ford and Lafcadio Cortesi of the Rainforest Action Network, courtesy Showtime
YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY
Who will want to watch? - Elementary age and older
How safe is it? - Could be scary to younger viewers because of the dire nature of the problem and how far-reaching it is
How good is it? - Very well, made and seems pretty consistent with current literature
Nine part series premieres tonight on Showtime at 10 p.m. and the premiere is available on YouTube, the Showtime website and as an iTunes podcast, as well on various OnDemand channels, depending on your carrier.
As if I wasn’t depressed enough working on changing passwords (who knew it could take so long to change over 200 of them?) and doing my taxes (which still aren’t done), I had to set aside time to watch this really important show. And while it is depressing to watch what’s going on in Indonesia, with the de-forestation and the lack of government intervention, and in Syria, where climate change was probably behind the current civil war there, it is important to know what’s going on.
And believe it or not, there are things we can do to help the Indonesian situation, or even the third story, featuring Don Cheadle going to a small town in Texas to help the Evangelical Christians there understand that, yes, climate change is human-caused and that science is not in conflict with their faith. Cheadle approaches the people there with a respect that I confess, I have not had. We need to hold compassion for those who disagree with us if we are to have a prayer of changing their minds. And, alas, minds do need changing if we are, as a planet, to beat this particular scourge.
There may not be much I can do about the corrupt Minister of Forrestry in Indonesia, but I can avoid products with palm oil in them. Because palm oil is used in so many different products from soaps to margarines, the demand for the oil is insanely high and farmers trying to make a living in Indonesia are razing forests to plant the palm trees that produce the oil, which are then razed to harvest the oil. The premiere episode doesn’t really mention what Indonesians are supposed to do for a living without palm oil plantations, but it is one of the few faults I found.
The idea of using celebrities to take us through these stories is that they are asking the questions for us, the viewers. That and the reality is, folks will look at the show because they love Harrison Ford or Matt Damon or Jessica Alba. Fortunately, well-respected journalist Thomas Friedman, of the New York Times, is also taking us on the journey, specifically through Syria, a region he’s been reporting on for most of his career.
As hard as it was for me as an adult to find hope and encouragement in the series, younger viewers might feel even more hopeless. But as you, perhaps go through your pantry to eliminate foods with palm oil – usually the over-processed stuff we shouldn’t be eating anyway – you can explain that as people became aware of how dolphins were being killed by the fishing nets used to catch tuna that ended up canned in our pantries, they started looking for and buying dolphin-safe or line caught tuna and now almost all canned tuna is line caught. In short, we can all do things to reduce our carbon footprint, including writing our representatives and encouraging them to put pressure on Indonesia (and other governments) to stop de-forestation and provide alternatives for the people there. It’s not hopeless, but it is dire.