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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.
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.
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battle of Peleliu Island, the film reveals the global battle taking place today on the reefs offshore, where bombs have been replaced by greenhouse gases and fishing fleets perform the role of naval artillery.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 Amazon.com. See the film trailer, below, for additional information.
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 forpeople 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
Celebrate the new year with a film that will deliver what Hollywood can’t: a genuine inquiry into the human prospect for living sustainably within the means of Nature.
There are limits to how many explosions, car chases, and gunfights people can absorb as “entertainment” before their discernment about reality is compromised.
Why not share a copy of our new film for those who seek a deeper understanding of life in the twenty-first century? Share it with teachers, librarians, civic leaders, local clergy, and anyone who is searching for a better quality of life.
“SUSTAINABILITY: Changing the Operating System” is a visionary film about the integration of environmental, economic, and social action to create a future that is green, profitable, fair, and “glocal”. It examines the old “operating system” of industrial growth that has given rise to a series of interlocking crises in finance, energy, food, water, biodiversity, poverty, climate disruption, and population growth. The film calls for a new operating system that is grounded in the life of community and dedicated to the health and resilience of people, markets, and ecosystems.
Examining both the promise and limitations of sustainability, the film offers a sobering but hopeful look at life in the twenty-first century. Sustainability is presented as a process of improvement in relationships between diverse groups of people, and between people and their environment. Vital to this improvement in relationships is the human capacity for empathy and compassion, along with an understanding of interdependence and how it determines our place in the great web of life.
The filmmaker, Dr. Monty Hempel, is a national leader in sustainability thought and practice, having served as a founding board member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and as president of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences. Hempel has taught university courses about sustainability for more than 20 years and has produced books and previous films about sustainability, including the award-winning video, Spirit of Place (2011). He is also the founding president of Blue Planet United.
Film format: NTSC 16:9, DVD-R, running time: 47:37