REIVEW: 2 DEGREES
Many would say that the modern environmental film movement began with Al Gore’s blockbuster An Inconvenient Truth, and since then there have been a slew of hard-hitting, important documentaries about global warming and its effects on our world. Australian writer-director Jeff Canin has succeeded in crafting a film that is heads and tails above the pack in documenting both the effects of climate change and the political struggle to enact change itself.
In 2013 the global temperature has risen 0.8 degree centigrade above pre-industrial levels and we have passed the milestone of 400 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere. The increase in extreme weather is directly linked to this, and the cost to both the developed and developing world is astronomical- to say nothing of the loss of human life. A 2 degree rise, which is what the rich developed countries want as the benchmark, will see devastating impacts around the globe, especially to vulnerable people that live and work on the land.
Canin’s film offers a beautiful and educational narrative that communicates the urgency of the current situation and anchors it in the consequences in the world today. Canin cleverly juxtaposes the political negotiations in the lead-up to the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference (which disasterously failed to reach a binding accord) with solutions-driven, grassroots local community actions in Port Augusta, South Australia. The result is ambitious and revealing, contrasting the dry, but facts-driven economics of climate change with leading experts, with a colourful and human community implementing change from the ground up.
This film is really two films in one: the politics of Copenhagen and the struggles behind the scene are shown in tense detail, underscored by the hunger strikes of young activists, who anchor the realities that people in the third world face. Canin has shot a film with some startlingly beautiful cinematography, showing areas of the third world, forests, floods and the spirit of tribal peoples across the planet as they adapt to extreme weather.
2 degrees also looks at the unsustainability of deforesting the third world, and the responsibility of the first world that attained its current wealth by polluting over the last few centuries. All these dualities-old world and new, rich and poor, are all facets of the fact that we are one world needing to unite together for a realistic solution.
And as the second half of the film shows, the threat isn’t just to our climate, it’s to the heart of democracy itself. As the people of Port Augusta overwhelmingly voted for the installation of a solar thermal plant over a gas plant, we see real action happening on-the-ground now.
The hope is that by watching 2 degrees you too, will be inspired to understand, and to act, and to realize that when it comes to the people of the world, there is only 1 degree that separates us all.
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