BLOOD & CORAL Now Available on DVD

Blood & Coral Poster (SMALL)This feature documentary examines the health of the ocean, focusing on coral reefs and their vulnerability to climate disruption, overfishing, pollution, and ocean acidification. Using the spectacular reefs and islands of Palau, the film celebrates the stunning beauty and diversity of wild coral, while calling attention to its growing fragility and rapid decline.

Palau’s battle of Peleliu island, one of World War II’s most savage conflicts, provides the film with a striking analogy for the environmental battle now taking place on the reefs offshore, where bombs have been replaced by greenhouse gases, fishing fleets perform the role of naval artillery, and super typhoons succeed armies as invading forces.

Blood & Coral tells the story of an island paradise that was utterly destroyed by war and slowly restored by Nature in one of Earth’s most incredible feats of redemption. In that powerful regenerative process lies the hope that people and Nature will act in concert to restore and sustain coral reefs, everywhere.

From the director: “Blood & Coral is an environmental elegy that weaves together awe-inspiring scenes of nature’s beauty and fury with searing images of war and human conquest. Unlike an elegy, however, it has the upbeat look of a tropical travel film, complete with scenic landscapes, underwater adventure, and amazing wildlife. By emphasizing both the beauty and fragility of coral ecosystems, the film is intended to engage viewers intellectually and emotionally in the urgent struggle to save wild coral. Preserving coral reefs is ultimately about preserving our humanity.”

Go to our store – “Films” (click on the menu at the top of this page) – to order your copy.  You will also be able to download and stream the video on, later this month.

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“EROSION OF LIFE” – A new film coming in 2016 from Blue Planet United

We humans like to define ourselves by what we build, invent or create, but our signature trait is manifest most clearly by what we destroy.  Nothing reveals this unflattering trait better than our devastating impact on the animals and plants with which we share this planet.

Only one species, ours, seems poised to dominate everything:  every ecosystem, every watershed, every major food system, every climate zone, every geographic region, every type of habitat, every market, zipcode, biological community, and individual animal — from the Arctic polar bear to the Antarctic penguin and the millions of species in between.

Today’s humans are architects of the most advanced civilization yet achieved and at the same time we are the leading executioners of nonhuman life, presiding over the first mass extinction since the death of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago. While the current era marks humanity’s first global assault on biodiversity, it is the planet’s sixth major extinction event in the 3.7 billion-year history of life. Scientists warn that in the 21st century alone, the world may lose half of all living species, largely as a result of poorly planned human development and rapid growth in population and per capita consumption. At the individual level, nearly half of global wildlife have been lost in just the past 40 years. This film examines the causes of this “erosion of life” and the steps humanity can take to slow and reverse this race to extinction.

Filmed, directed, and produced by Monty Hempel, the film will present a hopeful but unflinching view of the biodiversity challenge we face in the twenty-first century.  See the official trailer, below, for a preview of the film’s fascinating images, subjects, and themes.

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A Sustainable Life at Three Sisters Farm by Daniel Driscoll

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The Eighth Billion

Enjoy a new short film about population growth and the future of wilderness created by Blue Planet United.  The film combines the efforts of writer, producer and director, Monty Hempel, and population expert and film consultant, Marilyn Hempel.  Marilyn is Blue Planet United’s executive director; Monty is the organization’s president.


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Blue Planet United Publishes New Book on Population

Elders_cover_WEBBlue Planet United has just published a new book titled Facing the Population Challenge: Wisdom from the Elders edited by Marilyn Hempel.

This book is for all who have ever pondered the fate of humanity and the biosphere and asked, “What can I do?” Fifteen elders—giants in the field of human population and development—share their vision of a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. Drawing from many decades of practical experience and deep knowledge, they trace the contours of rapid population growth, its socioeconomic and environmental challenges, and the lessons they have learned in dealing with these challenges. They go on to lay out concrete actions that can move our civilization forward to a future of wanted children, empowered women, and an economy that works within restored ecosystems.

Features chapters by Lester R. Brown, Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich,  Albert A. Bartlett, Malcolm Potts, Donald A. Collins, David Poindexter, William N. Ryerson, Linn Duvall Harwell, Sarah G. Epstein, Robert Gillespie, Martha Campbell, Lindsey Grant, David and Marcia Pimentel.

Click here to order the book online.

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BLOOD & CORAL – A New Film about the Fate of Coral Reefs

Written, directed, and produced by Monty Hempel, president of Blue Planet United, this feature documentary (running time: 71 minutes) examines the impacts of climate change, ocean acidification, and overfishing on coral reef ecosystems.  Using for comparison one of World War II’s most savage conflicts, the battle of Peleliu Island, the film reveals the global battle taking place today on the reefs offshore,  where bombs have been replaced by greenhouse gases and fishing fleets perform the role of naval artillery.  Blood & Coral tells the story of an island paradise that was destroyed by war and then restored by Nature in one of Earth’s incredible acts of redemption.  Exploring the lessons of that redemption, the film finds long-term hope in the regenerative power of people acting in concert with natural systems to protect and restore coral reefs, everywhere.

The film premiered in New York City June 12, 2014, and will soon be available in the Blue Planet United video store and through  See the film trailer, below, for additional information.


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When Good People Deny Human Responsibility for Climate Disruption

by Monty Hempel

As a college professor, I am painfully aware that my students often use education more to justify pre-existing opinions and worldviews than to enlighten themselves with new knowledge and ways of knowing.  This knowledge-for-justification tendency can be found in each of us and varies only by degree of application. But it can be dangerous when it leads people to deny mounting evidence that change is urgently needed, as witnessed in the current debate over climate disruption, or in historic debates about the health hazards of smoking, or the economic hazards of deregulating Wall Street.

The selective use of knowledge to rationalize human wants and behaviors has been heavily studied by social scientists.  They refer to this phenomenon by many different names, including motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, and cultural cognition. Combined with long-studied phenomena of “groupthink” and cognitive dissonance theory, researchers have woven together a persuasive but unflattering account of human reason and its self-serving uses.

The importance of these research findings for people concerned about climate change is in understanding how to communicate better and to present scientific findings in practical tradeoff terms when they somehow threaten the dominant values and institutions of the status quo.  Most people in denial are neither evil nor stupid.  Denial may be an effective way to reduce stress and cognitive dissonance. But it may also deeply undermine their own self-interest, in the long term.

 A major barrier to public mobilization on climate and other global environmental issues is the psychological distance involved in moving from abstract environmental data (e.g., global mean temperature) to more immediate concerns about local impacts, such as disruption of drought cycles in a particular area, and how they may affect one’s personal prosperity or family security.

But there is an even more important kind of distancing that helps to explain the failure to promote eco-literacy when and where it is most needed. This kind of distancing results from the receding boundaries of the natural world in the face of rapid human development. People disconnected from nature have less motivation to learn more about it. The consequences are especially important for children, as suggested by recent book titles, such as Last Child in the Woods and Free-Range Kids. The psychological distance separating the urbanized places where most humans reside from shrinking remnants of natural landscape has never been greater. As a consequence, the opportunity to connect emotionally and physically with nature and wildlife has steadily declined. And implicit in this decline is an accompanying loss of attachment to natural places and wild habitat, or what is sometimes understood as lost bioregional identity.

 Precisely how much this growing separation diminishes human concern about the environment is unknown, but it is clear that people are more likely to protect the things they love and actively internalize. Distancing from nature may have some of the same emotionally debilitating effects as distancing from other people. This separation becomes even more significant in issues of climate change, where the most dramatic impacts are taking place in the Arctic and other remote areas that few people ever visit or monitor.

The obstacles to clear thinking about these kinds of threats extend far beyond psychological distancing. Research on climate change communication has identified dozens of factors that serve to hinder or derail public support for timely action on climate risks.  As a partial summary of many of these factors, I have developed a simple table (below) to help in examining the causal forces at work in the development and persistence of climate denial and disbelief.

Overcoming the disbelief and suspicion that currently polarize large segments of our population will require both intellectual and emotional intelligence about our common origin in the great web of life and our common future in sustaining it.

Causes of Eco-Complacency and Disbelief 



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