Before the Flood and An Inconvenient Sequel (deep dive)

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

The lecture is accurate in the idea that a lot of people may not want to know the truth. I think this is a major problem. A high percent of people will just never click the video, they don’t care. Then another percentage will watch the video, but rationalize their current lifestyle. It is a very small percentage that will watch the video and take action. I believe the film was a great intro to the issue, however more in-depth environmental films could also be useful in adjunct.

[I, Ken, wish we had time for more films that took up a range of environmental issues related to the climate crisis, but we will be moving on to other sorts of material, That said, I have uploaded a number of documentaries that consider specific issues to GauchoSpace (GauchoCast), including Gasland, Racing Extinction, A Plastic Ocean, and Chasing Ice. These links are to trailers. You are in no way required to watch these films, but might want to check them out if you’re interested.]

In the film, I was reminded of times when I have personally seen people attacking Leonardo DiCaprio for standing up for the climate crisis, especially on fox news. In my own life I have debated for countless hours the same ideas that DiCaprio is trying to get across in the film. I believed that DiCaprio is a very good ambassador for the cause of the climate crisis. I wish more people of influence were able to take a stand as he is

[this comment had 25 replies, including this one]

While I agree that DiCaprio worked hard to travel the world for this film, we should be reminded that this travel adds to DiCaprio’s carbon footprint. What I was more impressed with was that, to stick to his words, they actually paid a carbon tax to produce this film. They avoided hypocrisy. The makers of this film lead as an example for big businesses who should pay for their carbon emissions. I agree with the film when it states that taxes will deter Americans from continuing to excessively emit carbon dioxide.

[What’s a carbon tax? Note that other countries have already introduced carbon taxes. The Netherlands introduced one in 1990; Norway in 1991.]
[and this reply]

I completely agree on grounds of talking the talk and walking the walk in terms of how DiCaprio spreads his message. I am a vegan myself and when it comes to climate change, people are often more interested in “thoughts and prayers” rather than actually making a lifestyle change.

Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Sequel” was very interesting to me because I really resonated with many of the speeches that he gave (especially the final speech in which he compared the movement to curb climate change to the women’s rights movement and similar movements)…

A quote which especially stuck with me was “no other country can play the role the U.S. can play [in the movement to curb climate change]”. I think that America, a developed country with a lot of resources and power, should be doing a lot more to lead the “green” movement than it’s doing right now…

While America is not stepping up to the plate in this “green movement”, other countries and their leaders are. One such example is Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, who stated that: “…our [Canada’s] government is making climate change a top priority.”

[Other countries are already well on their way to combating the climate crisis, While not without problems, “Germany has been called ‘the world’s first major renewable energy economy.’” Similarly, “Renewable energy in Costa Rica supplied about 98.1% of the electrical energy output for the entire nation” back in 2016. In terms of wealth (GDP per capita), Costa Rica ranks pretty low among other nations: it is #50 – and yet it has already achieved this level of renewable saturation. Incidentally, the GDP per capita in the US is more than four times greater than Costa Rica.]

“Before the Flood” is a captivating documentary that I could barely take my eyes off of once I began watching. I am not the type of person who cares a great deal about what celebrities are up to, what products they’re using, who they’re dating, etc., which is why I was pleasantly surprised at how Leonardo Dicaprio presents himself in a humble and approachable way and learns and grows with the audience rather than coming off as pretentious.

The documentary “Before the Flood” provides the audience with an oversimplification of the disasters that climate change has brought to our civilization. …


I agree that the movie oversimplifies the Climate Crisis, and on your point that the earth is system that exists beyond the use we have for it. However, I think what makes this documentary great is that it is made to draw people in to environmentalism. My 57 year old Grandpa, who barely believes climate change is real, doesn’t want the same in-depth six hour movie describing all the socio-political intricacies of climate change and the science behind it. He would immediately turn off a documentary that started with “the earth is its own autonomous being and we have disrespected it for too long”. But he sat through the whole hour and a half with me, and by the end he had so many questions. We literally talked about this movie and the climate crisis for hours…Without a movie such as this one, which eases the viewer into the situation, he would have never listened to me.

After watching “Before the Flood”, I was left more alarmed than I thought I would be. The fact that there are so many things changing around the world and some people still choose to be ignorant and ignore the change right before their eyes is appalling. I was aware of the ice caps melting which can cause a positive back loop that will end up melting ice into the ocean, changing currents and weather patterns, causing sea levels to rise, and flood-susceptible places to become extremely dangerous. Although I knew this could happen, I didn’t realize it was happening as fast as it is. During the film it was said that by 2040 you will be able to sail over the North Pole. This is only 20 years away which I think is the scariest part. I wont even be 40 yet and a huge part of Mother Earth will have been ruined already.

After watching the film “Before the Flood”, I remember one sentence that a person said the people in Fiji contribute the least amount of greenhouse gases, but they were affected the worst by the climate change. It is really sad that people in Fiji did almost nothing but their lives got worse, while the people in U.S. government, the main country that emits CO2 and methane, still trying to mislead the citizen that the climate change, that global warming is a joke. When I saw president Donald Trump said “its freezing right here, we need some global warming”, I was really angry. Global warming is a serious topic, as a president, you can’t take it as a joke.

While watching “Before the Flood” I probably had the same question that everyone else had: why am I watching a 2 hour film of Leonardo DiCaprio talk about climate change. This made me realize the position DiCaprio puts himself in for us, the viewers, as a seemingly ignorant but environmentally curious person. This works really well because we are guided in this introductory adventure to scratch the surface of climate change. I think the film did the right idea to stay on “big picture” issues and ideas. There is no way that the audience would be able to learn the complexity of climate change in two hours, so DiCaprio retaining that informative narrative role really helped. It was as he said, “I’m no expert,” but his way of informing was done quite well.

In “Before the Flood”, one of the most interesting interactions occurs when [Sunita] Narain and Di Caprio discuss India and its lacking quality of life for the less affluent. In this conversation, Narain brings up how people from first world countries often spout platitudes about how developing countries should move to solar energy instead of having to resort to more crude methods for energy. Narain’s comments on these statements put into perspective on how little these people, who most people likely share similar opinions to, truly understand about the situation of the world outside of their own and their own privilege. People from the first world are able to stand on a higher moral ground and condemn developing countries emitting greenhouse gases because they have the privilege of living in a far more advanced society that can afford to care about the environment…

Perhaps the most striking part of the conversation was when Narain pointed out that America itself is not doing as much investing in solving the problem as it should be considering that it is the second-greatest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world…I believe that this conversation as a whole is eye-opening in clearing away the ignorance of the people that look down upon those from the developing world.

Another issue is our greediness. It is a fact that our economy is completely or almost completely based on fossil fuels. The fossil fuel industries do not care whether or not their products are contaminating the earth. They care about the money they make. Scientists whose lives have been dedicated to studying climate change have been made fun of by reporters and politicians across the nation, discrediting their work. If this was not enough, these scientists have also received death threats from “anonymous” subjects. But it is obvious that these “anonymous” individuals are those same politicians and CEOs of the fossil fuel industry that preach hatred and fear, or their uninformed supporters. This hatred and fear spreads throughout the scientific community, making it even harder for them to publicize their findings without being threatened or ridiculed.

When I was watching the documentary “Before the Flood,” I was shocked to see how climate change has affected different parts of the world. In the Arctic Circle, it is hard to believe that the huge amount of blue solid ice has melted in just 10 years!

There is a scene in Kevin Costner’s “Dances with Wolves” where the protagonist Lt. John Dunbar request to be stationed on the frontier wanting to see it before it disappears. This is now how I feel about the Arctic and the Amazon after watching “Before the Flood”…I hope to see the Amazon and the Arctic before climate change takes its toll on them and they cease to be what they once were.

At the beginning of the film “Before the Flood”, it starts off with Leonardo DiCaprio talking about this painting which plays a significant role at the end. The painting was painted by Hieronymus Bosch in the 1500s and was named “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. The painting consisted of 3 panels. The first panel contained the world at the beginning of its creation with Adam and Eve as the only human beings. The 2nd panel is where it begins to get a little dark and involves the infusion of deadly sins and overpopulation. Finally, on the 3rd panel is DiCaprio describes as “nightmarish” where everything seemed to be catastrophic.

As a college student, I have realized, to a certain extent, the so called “cruelty” of society, people would do almost anything for fame, power and money, thus explains such climate deniers who are benefitted by the corporates. I have watched an episode of “Patriot Act” in which Hasan Minhaj informed the audiences regarding the Koch Brothers’ actions against public transportation, and it was well expected that these corporates would cease any actions that could harm the profits of fossil fuels.

In the film, “An Inconvenient Sequel” …one thing that struck me…was when he [Gore] mentioned that on a global basis, the world gets more energy from the sun each hour than the entire global economy uses for an entire year. While I know that a change in consumption would be more efficient in mitigating climate change than alternatives for fossil fuel would be, I still find this information shocking. If we would better utilize renewable energy sources that we have on our planet, the world could have access to clean energy.

Fire in Paradise (deep dive)

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

The beginning of the film does an amazing play by play recap of the fire…The film also provided a very smooth transition from the story telling of the fire to the academic information of how climate change has resulted in an increase of wildfires. Prolonged drought, and longer summers, makes it a nightmare for potential wildfires. I couldn’t believe how horrible it was to watch the hospital get evacuated. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have to get evaced straight after surgery. However, you can really see how some people rise to the occasion as some doctors and nurses used their personal cars to evacuate patients. 

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I agree.  The film does an amazing job capturing the devastation that a wildfire can bring especially on a town that isn’t prepared…Like you mentioned this makes for a great intro into the talk of climate change as the audience just witnessed all the hardships the people went through because of one wildfire.  The film then goes further and adds the statistic that the 4 largest fires in California history happened over the last 4 years.  This shows the obvious correlation between these natural disasters and climate-changing as the only logical explanation for the rapid increase in deadly fires is due to the rising temperatures.  I had the same feeling as you when I saw this film because before watching this as I thought that wildfires were way below the likes of earthquakes and hurricanes in terms of destructive force.  But after watching this movie it almost makes me afraid to live in California…


“Fire In Paradise” is one of the most scary and heartbreaking things I have ever seen. I honestly wanted to stop watching the film during many scenes because I felt overwhelmed, as if I were experiencing the fire along with everyone else as well.


Moving at 80 football fields a minute and eventually covering the size of Chicago, this incident that should have not been as big of a deal as it was became seared in the memories of the 50,000 people who managed to escape – but also ended up being the last memory made for 85 people.  No matter how crazy the statistics of the fire are, nothing was more impactful to me than seeing the vigor of the fire contrasted to how serene Paradise once was…Not only will the altering climate worldwide affect the earth’s ecosystem from a scientific point of view, but it has a sentiment attached to it as it kills all types of species – including humans.  But not just humans in general – our grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, neighbors.  It is happening and needs to be addressed.


During my first year at UCSB I became friends with someone who lived in Paradise. I remember him telling me how beautiful Paradise was and how I had to go visit. But soon his hometown was engulfed in flames and him and his family lost everything. He had to move back in with his family to regroup and restart their lives. I was heartbroken when I heard about the fire, but after watching the documentary “Fire in Paradise” my heart was completely crushed.


[T]he town of Paradise had a town evacuation plan with a trial run in 2008, which the county grand jury warned of the town roads to be “serious capacity limitations” yet they did not give the funds necessary to expand the road. If the roads were expanded then most likely the town wouldn’t have suffered the way it did.


When President Trump addressed the Paradise Fire at one of his speeches, he took it as a joke. First off he said the wrong city, and then was continuously corrected with the right name, Paradise, and he still couldn’t pronounce the correct city. And then above all, he blamed the fire on an overgrowth of trees, and still not coming to the consensus that this was due to drought and lack of rainfall. This all falls back on the rise of temperatures, the droughts, and how much carbon we are putting into our atmosphere.


After watching “Fire in  Paradise ” I was shocked that the news of this fire was not more prevalent throughout the media outlets. The beginning of the film was basically a representation of how most of the world views the climate crisis. They believe it’s not a big deal…


I have had to deal with wild fires and evacuations back at my home, but not to this severe of a level. At the time, I was 17, and there was smoke in the blue sky along with visuals of dead, grassy hills burning. Had to go evacuate my grandparents house, however, they refused to believe that they would be affected by it. Fortunately, the fire department was able to contain the blaze before it affected my family. I tell this story to confirm that we are dealing with the consequences of the climate change here and now.


I felt their confusion in the film. I also reflected where I was during the time of the Campfire. Only three hours away, I was probably getting ready for school in the early morning and going about my day. I remember at some point hearing about the Campfire on the news or maybe I read it on Twitter, but it never crossed my mind that it was a fire of this capacity. I never knew even before this film that it was this devastating, in terms of how fast it moved after ignition. Saying this I almost feel ignorant. How did I not know the extent of the most devastating natural disaster in 2018, and California’s deadliest and destructive fire in history? It was because it didn’t happen to me. I was distant and removed from the incident. I feel like that is how most of the climate crisis today is received. Many Americans specifically have not experienced the effects of climate change in their own personal lives, so they feel removed from the situation and even if they know it exists, they feel like they can get away with not addressing it for the time being.


As I watched this film, I really do not question why Ken included it in the course, as he mentions we might in this video. I feel like the film does a very good job at portraying one of the most relevant consequences of climate change for us, the residents of California.


“Fire in Paradise” hits a sore spot for me because I know someone whose family was displaced in that fire. The film brought me back to last year when my friends and I watched in disbelief as a Californian town was burned off the map with 95% of its structures completely destroyed. the fact that this could happen in the richest state of the richest country in the world devastated our sense of security and motivated us to take this class to see exactly how far we were in the negative impacts of climate change. 


It seems like each year we see on the news “most destructive California wildfire in history”, and I wonder, how many more people have to die until we change our carbon obsessed lifestyles? How many homes, businesses, schools, churches, etc. have to burn before we take serious change?


I am ashamed to admit it–but until this film I never understood the severity of the Paradise fires that took place last year. My hometown is less than two hours from Paradise and I used to compete in swim meets in Gridley and towns near Paradise. It is crazy when catastrophic events don’t directly affect us–we tend not to care. However, after absorbing information from these first few weeks of class, I have come to the realization that all of these dangerous climate events affect us directly. These wild weather patterns are a result of human action.


After watching “Fire in paradise”, it made me feel somewhat frustrated and heartbroken about the disastrous wildfires in California and how negligence from the power company brought more pain. At the start of the film,  it was interesting to see how the power company decided not to turn off its power to increase profits…[T]hese large mega-companies profit off of the environment and make disastrous events like Paradise so much worse…

[similarly, someone else noted]

What upset me the most was that the fire could have been prevented if the electric company had only updated their systems. It is upsetting that this is always the same fight. Big corps. vs. climate crisis. With the other film, Before the Flood, we also learned how oil companies and other big corps. are the ones that are deniers and try to avoid changing their old machinery/customs to newer/renewable resources. The same fight, what I see is money vs. our planet and unfortunately I think money is winning. One of the men interviewed stated if the company were a person they would already be in prison, but you can’t put a company in prison.


The PBS documentary, “Fire in Paradise”, was very emotional to watch. When the officer described a phone call with a resident of Paradise who was trapped in her house with two other people and he couldn’t help them, my heart broke. Growing up in Santa Barbara and Montecito, I have experienced many similar fires first hand and there is nothing scarier than knowing theres something so uncontrollable coming for you.


I decided to watch the “Fire In Paradise” documentary with a friend so that we can have back and forth discussions/ commentary and honestly the film left us speechless…My friend compared it to a suspenseful movie. The sad part is that it was only the horrors of reality. None of that movie magic. It was raw footage of the horror stories that many civilians faced. These are they types of videos that should be spreading around to open the eyes of others and realize that climate change is real. It’s here and it going to continue to be here if we don’t do anything about it.


“Fire in Paradise” was a really eye opening film because it puts climate change in a different but familiar perspective…You never think that such severe and drastic weather patterns are going to happen to you or places you know well.


“Fire in Paradise” was one of the most heartbreaking films I have ever watched. Just as professor Hiltner mentioned in his video, this film puts a human face on climate change…I found that the student’s comment during lecture about Paradise being a particularly conservative area was especially impactful because it emphasizes the point that everyone will be affected by the effects of climate change. Fires and other natural disasters do not discriminate, they will destroy the homes of climate activists as well as climate deniers and everyone in between….I found that the end quote that said, “Can it be worse than that? And the answer is yes.” was powerful because it reminds us that things will get even worse if we do not actively make changes.


The narrator shared that 10/20 of the most destructive fires in the nation have happened in the past 4 years. The consequences of climate change are here…


“Wow” is really all that I can muster up after finishing this film. I still cannot wrap my mind around just how fast the Camp Fire took place, how much was lost, and how much was documented. It was insane to learn that it only took 4 hours for the fire to start and consume the entire town of Paradise.

I am from Northern California and this fire took place last year just as I and many of my hometown friends were leaving for our first year of college. A large group of my friends are ones who chose to attend Chico State, also located in Butte County where the Camp Fire took place. I remember seeing their social media updates marking themselves “safe”…


The documentary shows a most visual aspect of a wildfire in California. When I watched it I was shock. I knew California is suffering wildfires every year, and this is a serious effect of climate change, but this is the first time I watch a documentary describing about the things happened during and after the fire. These are terrified and heartbreaking moments.


Although the cause of the fire was due to PG&E, climate change still played a huge part on the fast spread of the fire. According to the film the fires spread 80 football fields per minute. This was mostly due to the dry land and strong winds.


The film “Fire in Paradise” was a heartbreaking portrayal of the seriousness of the climate crisis…The most surprising thing to me was the timeframe that the fire occurred, seeing the “30, 40, minutes from ignition” on the screen really showed me how quickly the fire progressed. Additionally, I was shocked by the pitch black footage. During the time of the Paradise Fire, I assumed that the pitch black sky I saw in the news was due to the fact that the fire was at night. But after seeing this film, I know that it was due to the massive amount of smoke.


My hometown is about 2 hours away from Paradise and even we were affected by the fire, my high school canceled school for almost a week due to the air quality being bad enough to cause breathing issues.


The documentary “Fire in Paradise” is shocking. It made me extremely emotional. I’ve accepted the fact that huge wildfires (along with other natural disasters) are now a common occurrence. I can’t believe how close the fires are to actual people and that there were deaths. Climate change is real and affecting real people. People are dying. It frustrates me that some people still don’t understand that fact. Climate change is an unpredictable and chaotic force of nature. We’ve seen nothing yet. More and more environmental disasters are coming. I realize that my comment is pessimistic, but this film really opened my eyes to our harsh future.


Having been at UCSB since 2017 I have experienced fires in Santa Barbara and even went home to avoid the smoke that choked our campus my Freshman year. Yet in each case, I never felt that I was in imminent danger. I knew I was safe. What was horrifying to watch in the Paradise Fire was the fact that people in Paradise were not aware that they were in danger until the fire was already almost upon them.


When watching the film “Fire in Paradise”, I started having heavy flashbacks to where I was and what I was doing when the Paradise fire happened. Where I’m from, my hometown is only two hours away from Paradise, but we were still heavily affected by that fire. I can remember feeling that same panic that the people in the film were feeling, I can remember all of us in our town so nervous when thoughts began to pop up, such as, “Are the ashes going to land here? Is another fire going to happen here? If Sacramento is being alerted about the potential harm of the ashes and the smoke, do we have to worry too?” I can remember all the students, the teachers, and the parents protesting for our school district to cancel school because the air was terrible.



To be completely honest, my immediate reaction after watching “Fire in Paradise” was to call all my friends and family to tell them how much I love them and how much they mean to me.  This film was a heart-wrenching, beautiful reminder of how sacred life is…


After watching the film and the lecture introduction of Ken Hiltner, I had goosebumps all over my body as I was actually familiar to the area because I was able to hike the area when I was a senior in high school, It was definitely a place to relax and enjoy the fresh breeze as you are close to nature. Yet, the place transitioned to the third phase image depicted in the painting that was showcased by Leonardo DiCaprio from the film “Beyond the Flood”. I am in complete shock as that area had a great community and was filled with incredible views to see. Provided that experience of mine, I am heartbroken to see that the place was ravaged by fire caused by corporations such as PG&E, a notorious corporation that is involved in most devastating fires that occurred in the history of California.


I’m sure Ken already mentioned this before, but I wanted to say that–especially for those of us who feel guilty for not being aware of the severity of the fire–don’t feel too discouraged. It wouldn’t be possible to keep up with all the negative news in the world and care about every single thing–that would be similar to watching films like these 24/7. I attended a lecture hosted last quarter that explained how discouraging the media can be for people who are trying to do something about the climate crisis. In fact, one of the practical tips the lecturer gave was to NOT keep up with news (or at least not negative news). As the saying goes: “Ignorance is bliss.” Of course, some exposure is helpful, but it’s more important to be aware of what the positive changes are happening more-so than the negative. That’s what can keep us sane, and keep us motivated to keep being part of the solution, rather than burning out. So here’s my reminder to anyone and everyone, including myself.


I was reading…[an article about the wildfires in Australia]… and it reminded me of what we had been talking about in class.

This article shocked me at first because I had forgotten about one of the major consequences of wildfires that we hadn’t discussing in Eng 23 in detail: the carbon dioxide emissions.

It’s ironic, the consequences of the climate crisis is creating more climate crisis (similar to the methane bomb and the melting of the polar ice caps).

[here is a quote from that article]

The historic wildfires in Australia likely unleashed about 900 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equivalent to nearly double the country’s total yearly fossil fuel emissions, according to scientists.

A Climate of Doubt and Merchants Of Doubt (deep dive)

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

When asked what would happen if the climate skeptics were wrong, Myron Ebell’s response was only “I would be sorry”. Are you kidding me? When millions of people have to be relocated because their homes are no longer habitable, when the 3 billion people on earth who rely on fish for their primary food source starve, and billions of species go extinct — I think it’s going to be a little too late for an apology…

I think that politicians who deny climate change need to be locked up in jail. I know that sounds extreme, but the policies that they are promoting are destroying our ecosystem and ruining any chance that we have at salvaging a habitable planet…

I can see why people are apprehensive to policies that limit fossil fuel consumption. The oil industry is an essential part of our economy, but switching to renewables would create new jobs and foster economic prosperity..

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I agree so much with what you said. I had the same reaction to that empty “sorry”. How can their sorry’s answer their grandchildren’s pleas for clean air, less hurricanes, less fires, and a more hopeful future?

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I completely agree. I found it laughable that the republican senators believed in their own “common sense” more than the scientific consensus. As if a politician with no background in science has a valid opinion compared to scientists who devoted their lives to addressing and researching this issue.

Watching the documentary “A Climate of Doubt” was so infuriating that I had to pause it half way through and take a 10 minute walk around my house trying to fathom how people can be so incredibly selfish.

[and similarly]

After watching, “A Climate of Doubt” I’m simply in utter disgust and disbelief. It was truly hard to watch all fifty three minutes of it.

[and with respect to “Merchants of Doubt”]

I had to stop watching at times whilst watching the film “Merchants of Doubt” because of how frustrated I felt with the entire situation surrounding politics and the environment.

I feel very sad when the documentary says that “a Virginia state legislator cut the words sea level rise from official request to study coastal communities” and “Tennessee passed a law allowing the views of climate change skeptics to be taught in schools,” which some politicians are using their power to deny the happening of climate crisis and trying to make kids in next generation be skeptical.

I respect Bob Inglis for standing up for what he believed in. He could’ve never fought against climate change and be re-elected. However, he had the courage to fight for something that would be very controversial but necessary. He might have lost his re-election but hopefully he inspired others to fight against climate change.

I would enjoy this film more and find it more helpful if it gave examples of how to change denier’s beliefs. Just knowing that there are people who don’t believe in science is not useful to me. How can I change that?

In regards to the film “Climate of Doubt”…[t]he only piece of evidence that was shown, proving that there has been no global warming, was a graph made by Fred Singer. However, it was also proven that the way his graph was modeled was altering the actual facts of how much the earth has warmed and that other graphs made by actual scientists show the extreme effects of global warming. But, it was quickly brought up that scientists are not to be trusted with this information. People believe that scientists are getting paid to alter data to make it look like the climate crisis is something to be worried about.

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What I realized though was the same as you, that “Climate of Doubt” lacked any credible evidence. Fred Singer’s graph doesn’t show the long-term temperature changes, and definitely has no weight compared to all of the data scientists have provided us over the years. Films like “Before the Flood” present real visuals, graphs, statistics etc. throughout the entire video, while this one just discredited the majority of what scientists believe—that climate change is real, here, and growing.

[and this reply]

I too was very confused while watching this video. Being a STEM major myself it was very hard to see scientists who spent decades building a resume of credibility within their field be attacked by lawyers who are going to look at their work to try and discredit them.

When watching the “Climate of Doubt”, I was just completely fascinated by the complete turnaround in public option over the whole issue of human caused climate change. How an issue that seemingly had wide ranging public support and bipartisan support in government soon divided the country in the matter of an election cycle is insane. It truly goes to show how powerful the media and other outlets of the digital age are in swaying the opinions of Americans.

[C]ampaign reform is a possibility…[as it would]…prevent funding from fossil fuel industries…[from bringing]…more distraction.

[A 2019 Huffington Post article noted that “Senators Not Backing Green New Deal Received On Average 7 Times As Much Fossil Fuel Cash:The oil, gas and coal industries’ donations heavily favor the lawmakers who have so far refused to back the only climate policy to match the scale of the crisis.”]

After watching “Climate of Doubt” I realized how helpless I truly feel growing up during this time, and yes, it has always been unfair that the wealthiest of the wealthy get to control the planet but this time it’s really aggravating since its destroying our only home.

There was a clip in the video from 2008 that depicted speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, alongside Newt Gingrich a republican, where they were both endorsing political action to address the climate issue. A few years later, in 2011, Gingrich came out to say that he regretted making the same exact advertisement. I just don’t understand how so many people went from being worried and eager to act upon a more sustainable lifestyle to outright denying or belittling its existence in the matter of a few years.

I was outraged to hear claims such as the following statement by Fred Singer, a retired physicist who spoke at a climate conference presented by the Heartland Institute: “There’s nothing wrong with climate. It will change no matter what we do. It’ll get colder. It’ll get warmer. We just have to wait a little.”

“Wait a little.” Is that really what he just said?? Wait for our planet to fix the problems we caused??

[this comment received received 13 replies]

“Merchant of Doubt” truly showed the extents of human selfishness and the consequences that greed inflicts on others. It is disgusting how corporations will stop at nothing to increase profits, even when they know it is causing harm to their consumers. When scientists discovered the harmful effects of tobacco, the corporations decided to ignore it and continue selling the product. In order to continue sales, they knew they needed to plant a seed of doubt in their consumer’s minds about whether or not those anti-tobacco claims were credible or not. With propaganda and ads, that’s exactly what they did.

Having read both “Climate of Doubt” and “Merchants of Doubt”, they both led me to the same question of Why does this have to be a political and economic problem. In “Merchants of Doubt” it was annoying to hear James Taylor say, “it’s scientific it’s economic, it’s political”. I totally disagree because it should not be any of these. It’s not scientists vs other scientists. It’s not fossil fuel companies vs the planet, and it’s not the left vs right. He continued to say, “Having majored in government and taking some atmospheric science course… I am well positioned to put it together.” He is claiming that he is credible and “allowed” to say his perspective is right solely on him having taken a few atmospheric classes?

The film “Merchants of Doubt” uses analogy of the trick of magic to show what the fossil fuel corporative and their think tanks are doing. The fact that climate change is happening is unquestionable and it is indeed caused by human activities.

There is one particular quote that stuck through me throughout this whole film, and it was said by science historian Naomi Oreskes who commented that climate change “is a debate, but not a scientific debate.”

It’s extremely saddening to see scientists put in time and effort to do research to help the Earth, and get trashed on for it. They don’t deserve to be questioned 24/7 for wanting to help.

Myron Ebell, in response to being asked what if climate scientists and himself were wrong, he simply responded “sorry”. If that alone does not show you how disconnected these people are from the issue at hand, I don’t know what will. He, and thousands of other policy makers and influencers are willing to risk the lives of millions, if not billions of people, in order to keep the fossil fuel industry intact and preserve their wealth. His complete lack of regard to the possible, or rather impending, consequence of his actions show how removed from the situation these people truly are.

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (deep dive)

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

Although I have never seen this movie before, I have heard of the idea of Minimalism, I never fully understood why someone would partake in it until now. We are wired to love the first new object like a pair of shoes, but once we get tired of those shoes we decide to buy more. Unfortunately, no matter how many things we buy it will not make us happy. In reality, having all of this stuff and empty space in our homes makes us more anxious and less happy because we feel the need to fill those spaces, and because of society, we feel the need to constantly have the best/newest stuff. It is really inspiring to see so many people live happy lives with such a minimal number of things, which to many seems like a joke…

[A]fter watching this documentary it really has opened my eyes to what all this stuff really means to me. I look around my room and see things I use daily sometimes multiple times a day, but then there are objects that have literally been pushed away and buried in my closet that I forgot I even own.

[This comment received 14 “likes” and 50 replies including]

In my own home, my mother and my sister are classic “shopaholics” in the sense that they use shopping and/or spending money in order to fill a void they may be feeling in their lives. This phenomenon is very common and is one aspect of the hoarder-like society we live in today. In other words, many people literally abuse the rush of endorphins that arises when shopping as if it were a drug. While this is an addiction that is all to easy to have in today’s society, it does not account for all of the consumerism we see today.

For individuals like myself, who do not get the same pleasure from shopping as a shopaholic, it is the pressure to have the latest and the greatest that fuels our unabridged consumerism. To elaborate, I consider myself a bit of a minimalist, I don’t waste money on tons of clothes or nick-nacks that clutter my living space; I do, however, rush to the apple store to buy the newest iphone even though mine is perfectly functional. This is important because it allows consumerism to hide under the guise of minimalism. Sure I only have a few items in my room, and of course all of them are immensely useful, however, they are all brand new and probably wont make it through the year.

[and this comment]

I don’t think it was the environmental aspect that was so effective in this video though. Sure, they mentioned pressing issues involved with having stuff, like waste and cheapening of clothes causing unnecessary amounts of resources being used to make them and other objects. Another issue mentioned was the environmental cost to ship goods, releasing CO2 into the air. While these are good reasons to pursue minimalism, the hope of finally being satisfied is the most appealing aspect of their argument. The hope of being at peace with having enough and ridding ourselves of unneeded stress.

[and this comment]

To answer Ken’s question posed at the end of the video, while I certainly think that minimalism is admirable and should be strived for, I remain extremely skeptical that a majority, or even a minority, of us will convert. The minimalism school of thought runs completely counter to the tenets of American Dream. I cannot imagine trying to convince our fellow countrymen to give up everything they have worked for, and everything they strive for. While this materialism will likely not make people happier, many people, myself not excluded, are under the illusion that “stuff” will make our lives better.

One quote that stood out to me in this documentary is “human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns.” This quote resonates with me because it was so easy to accept it as true and made me so sad and disappointed in our society.

Something from the Buddhist ideology that I truly believe is that you cannot be happy unless you let go of worldly possessions and stop wanting for things. The craving for these materialistic items is simply a distraction. It’s a distraction from trying to find true, lasting contentment. Buying and having things does not satisfy the hunger for them, all it does is increase the want. This constant want only breeds more discontentment and therefore a terrible cycle begins. As “Minimalism” states, if you just work in order to buy more things because it is ingrained in your way of life to want for materialistic possessions, life will be very unfulfilling.

I’ve always appreciated the minimalist aesthetic because I have difficulty focusing in the presence of too much stimuli and distractions. Growing up in a cluttered house, I picked up a habit of maintaining order in my spaces as best I could. However, I noticed one day that no matter how much I cleaned, my room still felt “stuffy” for lack of a better word. Watching Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” cemented what I learned from observing my own lifestyle: I simply had too much stuff. I enjoyed the film because it showed the reality of a minimalist lifestyle and proved that it was doable and that it is beneficial to more than just the environment.

[This comment received 11 replies including]

Watching this documentary and reading Thoreau’s Walden simultaneously is just a perfect match for a person like me to evaluate my lifestyle and make changes to it.

[and this reply]

I completely agree…But wouldn’t throwing out what you already own have a negative effect? I find that my clutter is not something that is built up overnight but rather over years. I still have the shoes I used from seventh grade. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It is important to learn from this experience and strive to be more fiscally and environmentally conservative.

[this reply received a reply]

‘You bring up a good point about how throwing things away can contribute a negative effect. Perhaps recycling/donating/composting the material obtained in the past, and a lessening of obtaining future objects.

Having already watched “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” (a great film) twice already, I watched “Visualizing a Plenitude Economy” and “The High Price of Materialism,” all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. The lifestyle presented by these films is one I know I would love to live, and I believe most people would want to live as well. A 30 hour workweek with much more free time, spending time with loved ones, working a meaningful job – what more could one ask for? Well, some may ask for more money and more things leading them to work more – as well as leading to more depression, anxiety, consumption, and a worse ecological footprint.

After watching the two videos on “Visualizing a Plenitude Economy” and “The High Price of Materialism”, it does seem like an ideal solution. Experiments conducted where the number of hours worked per week is reduced have shown that productivity and employee happiness has generally been raised when work hours are reduced. Despite this however, companies in America have overall refused to try it.

At the beginning of the film, I was extremely skeptical of the idea of minimalism. It seemed like a hippie, unrealistic, and unnecessary ideal. There was no need to throw away all my things. In fact, that was counterintuitive to the fast fashion documentary watched earlier in the quarter. The fast fashion documentary argued we should value and use our items more than we do now. This documentary advocates for the opposite. In order to successfully minimize our carbon footprint, we must make use of everything we own. However, I agree with the film’s notion that we should stop purchasing as many goods, because without these goods, we wouldn’t have this problem.

For me personally, this video hit close to home. As a former retail employee, I too have convinced people to buy items that they didn’t need and participated myself in the purchasing of excessive goods. In fact, just this Thanksgiving weekend I spent $300 on items that I arguable didn’t need. I appreciate watching these videos because I now feel encouraged to look at my own life and seek means of improvement within myself for our planet.

[Is it, generally speaking, the quantity or quality of our stuff that matters? The answer can have quite a bit of environmental import. Minimalists are certainly against having too much stuff, but what sort of relationship should we have with what we do own?]

One of the things I miss most about being home is my mom and I’s shopping dates. Everyday we’d stop by stores after practice and work– even if it was almost 11pm– and go to Ross to ‘see what they have’. Nearly every single time, we would walk out with bags and bags of clothes or items we don’t need, but because it was so cheap, we would just buy it anyway. These items would eventually stack up against each other and we would put it in a box to either send it to my family in the Phillipines or drop it off at Goodwill. And if you haven’t noticed yet, I didn’t grow up very minimalistic. Like most people (especially Filipino mothers), my mom was taught that you were only as successful as the things you own. It didn’t matter about anything else as long as you have the most gaudy items to display to your friends on Facebook. If you are Filipino, you are only considered successful if you buy your mom a Louis Vuitton bag. Minimalism was not a word in my mother’s vocabulary; in fact, she hated thrift stores…

Ken stated that “this is a first world solution to a first world problem”, and I completely agree. Although living minimalistically may be financially and environmentally better, it is not as easy as they make it out to be…[I]t isn’t the end-all-be-all solution that we think we need. It is just another solution for the rich to downplay their wealth.

[This comment received 8 replies including]

I completely agree. I find joy in a lot of material “things”. I do think that living a more minimalistic life can help people “find” themselves and feel better about themselves. I also see it as a trendy thing to do so one can show how much better their lifestyle is than everyone else who is obviously much worse than them for appreciating “things”. I am well aware it is possible to live without a nice big house, or luxury car, or nice clothes, a swimming pool etc… but if I am able to have these things, why shouldn’t I. Just because a few people on the internet made a documentary to tell me how much happier i will be by living a minimalist lifestyle, does not mean it is true for me or for every-person. I do believe their message that minimalism has its values that can help some people find meaning, but not for everyone. They continue to claim that minimalism helps people become happier and less depressed. I would like to see these studies and cases that prove this point rather than believe with no doubt these film makers are unbiased in their agenda.

Looking at minimalism from an environmental viewpoint seems much more impactful. Much of the co2 being put into the atmosphere is due to manufacturing that really isn’t “necessary”. If more people adopt this minimalistic lifestyle the demand for items will go down, which may eventually lower emission rates from massive companies as welI as from individual people.

[Note that in the film “Happy” we will be introduced to studies of happiness and how much money one needs to be in a position to obtain it.]

The film used Jim Carrey’s quote, “I wish everyone could become rich and famous so they could realize it’s not the answer.”

I actually read 10% happier, Dan Harris’s book, when I was in high school. My mental health was truly at an all time low. I found it a huge relief to go through everything I had and get rid of things I didn’t use, and turn more toward meditating and entertaining myself inwardly. I was very good at that for a while, but I eventually fell out of the pattern due to the convenience and business of everything around me. It’s so hard, when my brain has been coded since the beginning to crave constant stimulation, to accept that I don’t actually need that continuous stream of input. It forced me to ask myself, why am I always bored? Underneath what I called boredom, there was actually a lot of unhappiness within myself and my thoughts, the things I would turn to when my brain went idle. That kind of stuff is hard to deal with, and it’s much easier to cover it up with retail therapy.

When I first read the title “Minimalism” I thought everyone in the documentary was going to be like the guy that carried everything in his two backpacks, did not have a permanent house and just kept going from one place to another for finite periods of time. But the documentary actually showed that minimalism is not about that, rather elucidates that you should buy only what you NEED rather than what you think you want- in that moment until you get bored and want the newer, techier version…

I thought it was really interesting how we used to go through roughly 2 seasons a year, you had your winter and your summer clothes and that was about it. But now, we cycle through 52 seasons per year!!

I first saw “Minimalism” several years ago, when it was fairly new. Since then, I’ve avidly listened to the titular men’s podcast, titled “The Minimalists Podcast” and read Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus’s website, “The Minimalist.” I would recommend two of their essays in particular: “The Commodification of Love”, which is bookmarked on my computer, and “A Minimalist, a Japanese Cowboy, and an Arrogant American Walk into a Museum.” Their other essays are well worth the read, as well, but these two have always been particularly powerful to me.

Instead of rewatching “Minimalism”, I viewed “Visualizing a Plenitude Economy” and “The High Price of Materialism.” I thought that the former was one of the most interesting films that I’ve watched for this class so far. The societal restructuring that a “plenitude economy” calls for seems almost inconceivable in American society; something like a 4-day work week seems almost antithetical to work ethic in the U.S…I also appreciated the criticism of economic growth as the solution to the climate crisis; the concept of economic growth is used as a catch-all problem solver in the U.S. I can’t help but think of Edward Abbey’s words: growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell. Like malignant cancer, the American lifestyle and the people who live it (that is now an international pandemic) are rapidly draining the life of our planet. While we may say that cancer wins when its host dies, the truth is that the cancer will die too.

Have you ever wondered why sometimes those who have “everything” are not satisfied with their lives while those who have what’s “necessary” are happy with life? Those who have climbed the ladder of success have done it for a terrible price. They have become detached to what really matters: family. They have given everything that once was a source of happiness just to achieve a respectable social status. Yes, they have the money and life they want, but at what cost?…

I have been victim of “The American dream.” I have been deceived by society and all the marketing in our world to live a life that only increases my internal void…

[This comment received 8 replies including]

I really like everything you’ve said here, the part about “successful” people sacrificing family and friendships to achieve monetary and social status resonated with me. I thought about all the media that points us to materialism; shows like “Shark Tank” and inspirational quotes saying “sometimes you have to give up everything you love for success” are all around us. At the base of our culture, we are made to think that giving up family or friends to pursue entrepreneurship is somehow brave or important. What an absolutely sad thought.

“Visualizing a Plenitude Economy”, like its title, introduce viewers to a new way of living: reduce work time and increase personal break-time. Less work means more time to relax, people have more time to spend on their hobbies and deepen connections with their families and friends. I learned that while this kind of lifestyle increasing people’s personal well being, it also reduces consumption and degradation of natural resources. An example would be people choose to take walks or go to the park instead of shopping at malls. This shift in people’s life allows us to live more sustainable.

After watching the documentary film “Minimalism,” I am sunk in deep thought about my life. As the film goes in the end, “Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns.” To be honest, I do not know how to reject this argument since this is the truth. Nowadays, many people spend most of time chasing for the materials because they believe this is the only right thing to do, and only the materials can provide them feelings of safety. When starting to view myself, I feel magic when I heard that what I do and what I want are all because of what the society tells to do. I thought it is all because of me, because of my desire. However, I cannot deny this argument as well. In fact, the reason I want a better living standard is really because of the society. If the society and the advertisement did not tell me a standard of what succeed people live like, maybe I would not pursue for a better living and maybe I would be much more satisfied by what I already have right now. Even though I still cannot totally agree with everything they do in this film, such as 333 plan and throw away a lot of staff that I do not need, I am now starting to reconsider the things I am doing and trying to figure out the best lifestyle fits me perfect.

The True Cost (deep dive)

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

When someone mentions climate change, the first issues that pop up in our heads are probably rising sea levels, polar ice caps melting, coal mining, oil rigging, or global temperature rise. It would be unlikely for the fashion and clothing industry to make it to that list. Yet little do we know, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry after oil. (How did I not know this?)…

Furthermore, there was one comment in the film that I felt really applied to my life, and that’s donating clothes and items my family doesn’t need or use anymore to charity. Since my family has been doing this since I was really young, I automatically assumed we were doing a good thing, that we were giving a poor kid a new (used) toy to play with or a strapped mother a new (worn) blouse for work. But what shocked me is that only 10% of these donations are actually sold in thrift stores, and the rest goes to developing countries like Haiti where they sit in mounds and in a way, take people’s jobs away (too many clothes from countries like the U.S. —> no need to produce more —> sewing skills going to waste).

[This comment received 18 replies including]

People die of work related accidents all the time and that is not how the clothing industry should work, labor should not be that intense and money should not be that powerful. The workers are treated like slaves and when they do finally go home all the pollution from their work contaminates their drinking water. There needs to be change immediately.

[and this reply]

To be completely honest it’s unbelievable that we live in a country where you can justify allowing THOUSANDS to die just so people can have cheaper clothes they barely wear. Every video, paper, and lecture that I see makes me more and more convinced that the US is the source of all evil in this world. Yet people still seem patriotic about our capitalist system, as if its a point of pride that we exploit poor people in other countries.

[and this reply]

Brands can simply move around to the cheapest factories. This is an inherent problem with unregulated capitalism. The top 1% can go rampant and grow their wealth to insane amounts at the expense of human life.

Watching this documentary actually brought tears to my eyes. It really hurt to see how people in Bangladesh and India were being forced to work in such terrible conditions just to satisfy some rich person’s useless desires. I think this is one of the best examples of America’s carbon footprint affecting poorer countries more than it affects itself. One of the parts that angered me the most was when the former sourcing manager Kate Ball-Young stated that she didn’t feel sorry for people working in sweatshops because “they’re doing a job”. Yes, they are doing a job but they are being reduced to slaves while they’re doing them.

We need to help people realize the way their fashion choices and habits are greatly harming the lives of people in other countries. We also need our politicians to enact legislation that forces these corporations to practice humane business practices. To do this we as the American people need to vote with both our wallet and in the ballot box. We also need to take out ads in TV and other popular mediums to rival these clothing ads and show the other side of the fun and glamour. We need to make it unacceptable to continue to support these corporations with our wallet.

[on a similar note, someone commented]

The fact that Monsanto is willing to run a business that drives so many to suicide is telling of the nature of unadulterated capitalism. Second was the incidence of brain cancer in Lubbock, Texas. This case, I feel, may hit closer to home literally and figuratively for many Americans. Greater risk of brain cancer due to use of pesticides in our own country may seem far more alarming than similar conditions halfway across the world, sad as that case may be. Legislation in that region might be easier to produce and enforce as well, since the efforts of Congress to draft any kind of fair global trade bill has immediately been thwarted by any and all fast fashion companies. Rural Texans could plainly see the way pesticides have affected their community. This touches on the broader point I want to make: stopping environmental injustice has to start on the individual/activist and the local levels. Once this sort of support has grown, a greater consciousness of these issues among Americans will cause a bigger push on Congress to enforce fair trade on companies acting globally.

[Generally, the U.S. Congress supports “free trade” rather than “fair trade.” Free trade is often called a “free market” approach. Incidentally, the Heartland Institute describes as “one of the world’s leading free-market think tanks…Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.”]

“The Ugly Cost of Fashion” was a great short film…One of my favorite parts about the show was when it cut to the scene where the host opened up his own knock off store of H&M and Zara. I liked watching all the customers’ reactions to how unrecycled the clothes were and how they found out what they were really wearing. In my opinion, one of the funniest scenes was when the host said the only recycled part of the piece of clothing was the price tag. The girl’s face was priceless when he told her that! She was in complete shock to hear that only the price tag was recycled and not the actual clothes. She even said, “I feel like I’m being scammed!”

[This comment received 17 replies including]

I also did not know how the industry would lie about their products being eco friendly or made out of recycled material. As a consumer you give a certain level of trust to the brands you buy from and think if they tell me its eco friendly it must be.

[and this reply]

I worked in clothing retail, at a mid-range department store (Macy’s, if you care to know). When Minhaj says “drowning in clothing” as the model for fast fashion production, I had vivid flashbacks to spending HOURS upon HOURS in the docks unpacking boxes, stripping off plastic bags, and hanging, folding, and adding sensors to garments. We received two shipments of clothing per week, plus whatever trucks came randomly. Everything looked so similar: the jeans varied by a single rip, the dresses by a pleat or a button, and suits by the width of the lapel. I couldn’t imagine everything selling at a rate to warrant how many articles we put out on the floor, but people bought it. Everyone is ravenous for cheap clothing. Everyone believes in the fundamental right to express themselves through their fashion choices. It’s unbelievable.

My favorite part of The True Cost is the compilation of clothing haul videos from Youtube. I grew up mindlessly watching these videos. I would be inspired by the influencers’ fashion, and many times the videos prompted me to go out — or rather, go online — and shop. The film shows how the influencers would showcase their clothes and romanticize how they “bought so many things” such as a “jean button-up thing”, “a gray knit sweater”, “tie dye things”, a shirt with a “yin yang sign” on it, and “a really pretty light blue sweater” that one influencer wasn’t sure she was even going to wear because she didn’t actually like it that much.

This makes me think about Wall-E, the Disney movie that takes place in the future. In the movie, people have left a destroyed Earth and they move around on electronic chairs on a space craft called Axiom…On the Axiom, all the people talk to each other through screens and listen to a voice through an intercom tell them about “everything [they] need to be happy” and “feel beautiful”. At one point, the voice says to “try blue” and everyone presses a button on their mobile chairs and automatically changes their outfit color from red to blue. The people follow the voice’s suggestions like blind mice. They are controlled by it. It is their lord. That is exactly what consumption has become — our lord.

I have shopped hundreds of times, maybe almost thousands of times in my lifetimes at fast fashion stores such as Forever21, H&M and Gap just to name a few. Yet, I never really thought of the damage I was doing in shopping for the clothing. To me it was a steal, $5.50 for a cute floral top or $7 for a pair of “jeans,” this film taught me that I was right, purchasing these items is a steal; it is stealing from the workers who work in the poorest of conditions, stealing from the planet, stripping it of clean air and handing it all to the heads of the fast fashion industry…One of the ladies in the film said something that clung to me. She said that we as consumers have the power to make a change, the industry is all based on demand and that if we continue to buy into the trap, we are facilitating the poor treatment of the sweatshop workers. If we as consumers acknowledge these disturbing facts, we can stop consuming from the fast fashion industry and ultimately give ourselves and others better quality lives.

In “The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion”, Hasan Minhaj talks about excessive clothing consumption in developed countries as a result of the fast fashion industry, and the ethical and environmental issues associated with it…The latter part of his segment about greenwashing was very insightful because these fast fashion companies are able to, legally, deceive consumers into thinking that they are making more environmentally conscious decisions. When claims like “sustainable” or “made of recycled material” are made, even I, who does not support fast fashion, tend to think more positively about these companies.

I told everyone to watch this episode because to me it had quite an impact. One of my housemates asked, does he practice what he preaches? I don’t think he does if you look at the clothing that he’s wearing in the video. I wonder if he has thought about it, and if he is doing something, or if it’s just so hard and so expensive that he doesn’t.

What also really got to me was how some companies began to monopolize GMOs that act as pesticides just to screw over the poor farmers, who already poor as is and only have their land as the source in income. Since the GMOs often fail, farmers then have to result back to pesticides (the products of those companies), and pesticides cause birth defects and medical issues of which the farmers have to buy medicines ( the product of those companies) to cure their kids. The more money the farmers have to spend on those companies the more he owes them and the cycle continues until they come to take his land as a repayment.

After watching “The True Cost”, I feel angry and guilty. Before watching the film, I never realize that our pursuit of fashion and low prices could become selfishness that kills hundreds and thousands of people from poor areas. The film reminds me of what I have learnt in Global 2 class. After hyper globalization, many companies have their supply chains around the world. They desire low cost for their products so that they could earn more profit, and thus a “race to the bottom” effect has emerged. The factory that offers the lowest price to produce the product gets the business, so factories squeezes their cost by giving low wages and poor working conditions, not even the workers safety can be secured.

[This is not only the case with fashion, but a number of additional industries, such as consumer electronics. Foxconn factories are an example.]

Both corporations and consumers need to take a step back and consider their environmental impact. This all being said, I also think that our best chance of solving this particular issue does involve more change on the consumer’s end. It is more likely that consumers will change their ways than the massive fast fashion corporations that only focus on their income.

I cried while watching the documentary “True Cost”. Seeing the effects of the clothing industry and my spending habits really had an impact on me. I had never even heard about the tragedies in Bangladesh until I watched this movie. I was astonished at the figures they presented; the global fashion industry is a 3 trillion dollar company and we purchase about 80 billion clothing pieces per year. The fact that the owners of the factory in Bangladesh knew about the structural integrity of the building and did absolutely nothing to protect the workers breaks my heart. So much so that my friend and I have decided to boycott fast fashion. Like one of the men in the movie said “are your clothes really worth the blood of [their] people?” They are not. No piece of clothing is worth the life of a factory worker.

I’ve actually had a recent experience with H&M “greenwashing”. I was watching a video on youtube when an ad popped up for H&M’s conscious collection and I was so stoked at first because the ad seemed so good for the environment, apparently too good to be true. The ad said stats like: “ Fashion made from recycled PET bottles- at least 50% is made from recycled plastic PET bottles or other materials that have less impact on the environment”. But, after watching the Patriot Act video, I now understand that H&M is only putting out “green” advertisements to appeal to the people who care about our environment.

Immediately after watching The True Cost, I began researching clothing brands that were fair trade certified. I decided that I only want to buy clothes that are ethically sourced and environmentally friendly. I wanted to make sure that the clothing I was wearing was made by people who are given sustainable and livable wages, such as People Tree.

When the film was discussing the amount of farmer suicides and the terrible mental effects the pesticides were having on children in villages, I was absolutely appalled. It’s so deeply unfair that we have the privilege to buy as much as we want and companies get to keep making more and more money at the expense of people’s health, wellbeing, and even lives.

When I watched the State of the Union address last night, many of the points in The True Cost became surprisingly relevant. The first part of Trump’s speech was essentially stating statistics about the nation, ones that are supposed to be indicators of our progress. Many of them, I found, had questionable connotations. There was a theme of progress in terms of maximizing employment and economic growth, especially in terms of the stock market and GDP. However, as The True Cost notes, GDP is merely a measure of goods traded. It fails to capture the underlying environmental and possibly humanitarian costs of these goods being traded (the Bangladeshi garment workers are a particularly pertinent example where high production is a severe detriment). In addition, the stock market can reflect consumer confidence, but the flipside of this is the continuing plague of consumerism as we fill our homes with more products (especially clothing) that we have been conditioned to want thanks to advertising. Employment is up, but do these jobs provide living wages, fair healthcare benefits, ample maternity/paternity leave, etc? How many are working multiple low wage jobs to get by? Certainly there are big upsides to each of these measures of growth, but unprecedented growth is simply unsustainable. I don’t ask for people to not want low unemployment or a strong stock market, but to instead look deeper at these statistics and think of what they actually mean, not extrapolating “growth” to “progress” for the nation in all cases, unquestionably.

Fast fashion definitely got more popular in the recent years because of beauty and fashion Youtubers. Every day on my recommended page, I would see Youtubers posting videos named “Crazy $1000 Shopping Spree” or “I Spent Too Much Money at the Mall!” or “Huge Collective Haul”. Keep in mind that the viewers range from early teenagers to young adults. This is how the internet is educating the youth about fast fashion right now. Not only that, companies are sending boxes and boxes of free products and clothes to Youtubers and providing their viewers with discount codes, making them want to purchase these products. A lot of small/medium clothing companies online are offering express shipping overseas (mostly located in Australia or the UK) if customers purchased over $75-100. Imagine all the pollution generated through air travel, and also through the clothes manufactured.

Cowspiracy and Wasted (deep dive)

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

“I love animals, which is why I’m in the meat industry”. I’m sorry, what was that? When I heard this statement, it summed up the actions of all the organizations that Kip interviewed at the beginning of the film. Not a single organization was willing to admit that the cow and livestock industry was contributing to such terrible effects for our planet. Even if they didn’t know (which is surprising, given they are at such high positions of power in these organizations) they did not even care to admit that it was maybe something that had been overlooked or was a possibility. This film was very interestingly done, because it asked a lot of pressing questions and held these organizations that we so blindly hold as “doing the noble thing” accountable. It was surprising to see just how many organizations were not necessarily identifying the issue of climate change as we thought it to be relevant. The many statistics really put the entire issue into perspective (though at times, overwhelming). I thought the slaughter being shown was a very powerful moment to include, and even did a very good job in convincing me to potentially transition from vegetarian to potentially all vegan. I would highly recommend this film to many of my meat-loving friends and hope that it’ll change their mind.

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I enjoyed this approach but we saw of the possible consequences when it got to the part about activists in Brazil being murdered, it was pretty scary…This is troubling, especially in Brazil where the Amazon is being destroyed. Without activists it will only get worse.

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I agree that the irony in that statement from the ranchers is a bit hard to wrap our heads around. How is it possible to ethically or morally justify killing animals for food when we know it’s not necessary for survival? It’s really hard to say, I think it relates to the key ideas from the climate change deniers. Our actions are reflections of our social and cultural identities. People won’t want to change their behavior if they think it is going to change who they are. How can you be a rancher if you’re vegan? etc. I thought it was really cool that they had the former rancher basically say that you can’t be an environmentalist if you eat animal products.

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It is important. I really agree with you. Based on a simple biology rule, the energy pyramid, the efficiency of transfer energy from one level to the upper level is only 10% of the original level. If the grass, fodder, and other plants are the primary consumer, the cow, chickens, and other animals are the secondary consumers. Thus, people, who eat a lot of meat become the third consumer. However, if we can direct eat the plant, we can save 90% energy. Thus, we can reduce a lot of CO2 emissions.

To start off, I’m all for reducing or even eliminating my meat consumption to reduce my carbon footprint. And it’s a healthier diet too! But while I was watching Cowspiracy, I feel like Kip’s pride and passion for the subject matter got in the way of presenting a completely honest film statistically speaking.

After taking an environmental science course in high school last year and seeing how environmentally detrimental the agricultural industry is, I made the decision to stop eating red meat and decrease my overall meat consumption in general. After numerous attempts at convincing my family members to shift to a more plant-based diet with me, even meat-lovers like my dad have been changing their eating habits to become more environmentally conscious. Though not perfect, watching my family members choose turkey burgers over beef burgers after being educated on the issue is definitely a step in the right direction and makes me hopeful that other stubborn eaters can change their habits for the better as well.

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As I also began my journey to try to convince my family and friends on the vegetarian diet there are also many other benefits. It is much better for your health than a meat diet. Films such as GameChangers demonstrate how people with a plant based diet are overall MUCH more healthy than meat eaters. Not only is it super good for you, It also directly saves the lives on innocent animals. Thank you for making a change to your actions.

It was eye-opening to see these stats (mainly how livestock uses 30% of the world’s land mass; 50% if we’re looking at just the US) show up in the film.

As we have discussed in class before, livestock methane production has a huge environmental impact. This film, however, made me realize the other ways livestock hurt our environment, from deforestation for grazing land to the fact that food waste leads to even more livestock being raised. I was also shocked to learn that food waste had a bigger impact than switching to a plant-based diet, as changing diets is something we have discussed far more than food waste.

The facts that animal agriculture accounts for 15% of anthropogenic climate change and uses 30% of water consumed is truly astounding, give the number of people who still have no access to clean water, and the disastrous effects this climate change will have in the future. This value doesn’t even account for the water polluted by livestock and runoff from pastures or pens. The argument for a meat based diet is a simple one. We have money and like meat, so we show we can afford to eat it often. Other than this reason, there is no benefit to eating a meat based diet that is not shared by plant based diets.

I really enjoyed the documentary “Wasted: The Story of Food Waste” because it not only explained the extent of food waste’s negative consequences, the film also presented a clear and simple plan for reducing food waste: feeding people first, then animals, then use food scraps to create renewable energy, and finally, compost instead of sending food waste to landfill. This strategy is easy to understand, simple, and can easily be implemented by the everyday person, especially with a nudge by the government in the right direction, such as the system in South Korea. Food waste there is weighed from each household, and families must pay a fee for the waste they produce. However, the country is able to divert almost all food scraps from landfill by collecting and converting the waste into energy. This system is truly genius – families are incentivized to waste less because of the fee, the fee in turn funds the labor necessary to collect the food waste, and the government benefits from the revenue of produced energy…

The film “Wasted!”…shows us how some cooks use unwanted parts of some vegetables and animals to make delicious meals. They show a great appreciation and gratitude for all the food that is available for them to consume. This is what a majority of the people lack, true appreciation and gratitude for food. The great percentage of people that waste a lot of food aren’t grateful for being blessed enough to be able to purchase enough food for themselves, unlike billions of poor people around the world …

[BTW, the climate crisis may result result in 600 million additional people becoming food insecure by 2080, as UCSB’s own Hilal Elver has suggested. Elver is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.]

After watching “Wasted,” a lot of my questions were answered regarding waste and where it actually goes. ..[I]t’s good to finally know that 40% our food goes to waste, 90% of which straight to the methane-producing landfill where a vegetable will take 25 years to decompose. Pretty lame and disappointing if you ask me…

I love that they talked about the “Best By:” marks on products and how they are extremely misleading. Most of the time I find myself tossing the food at my job because we legally have to and the food looks perfectly fine so I become guilty and take the whole damn thing. It should be illegal to just throw away food like that. I’m not saying we should just open up more markets that give away free food because that’ll lead to more dependency, but a better way to salvage the product would be nice…

Upon watching the film “Wasted”, I became more educated on how food is wasted…And even though I already assumed food waste came from surplus production, expiration dates, and the way food looks, I did not consider how it also results from leftovers in the production process of what is deemed edible or not in society. For instance, they show how we only consume 40% of a cauliflower despite the leaves being edible or common types of fish despite nets catching other edible seafood. Because of this, I really appreciate how chefs incorporated these types of foods in their dishes, as well as how they emphasized that all food should be appreciated rather than wasted overall, so long as it is edible.

[H]aving watched “Cowspiracy”, I appreciate the reminder to keep choosing vegan as much as possible. When I say “as much as possible” I am referring to the idea of flexitarianism (something I initially called “feganism”, as in “fake” or “flexible” vegan). I eat vegan when I can, but “flex” for exceptions.

Be honest, I was angry and sad when I watched the documentary [Cowspiracy]. All those negative emotions were filled into my mind. Using one sentence that Kip said commonly after he interviewed or got emails from different organizations: it is bizarre. I was so frustrated that even people knew the truth, but they can’t yell it aloud because of the powerful cattle company, and those companies can even “control” the decision of the Congress. Because of the funding, because of the money, everyone is running away from the truth.

When I showed some of the information [from Cowspiracy] to my father, a very conservative man who doesn’t believe in the climate crisis, he pulled up other information to disprove what was in the video. I admitted that yes, some of those facts were fudged, but the overall message is still largely true, but he wouldn’t have it. Once he found out one of the facts were wrong, he assumed they all were, and thus said that he can’t trust any of the facts about the supposed climate crisis. After all, if one whole documentary was rewritten to fit an agenda, why not more? Why can’t all this information be falsified? These thoughts are what I worry many will come to if they watch Cowspiracy and find out much of it was wrong. While I do support the message, it doesn’t do entirely good in spreading that message, and for that, I cannot fully support this documentary.

One scene that really stuck out to me in “Cowspiracy” was the scene where the duck-farmer had to butcher one of the ducks by chopping off it’s head. That, right there, is one of the most powerful tools a person use to get the message across: some form of death or destruction. That scene reminded of a time when I was a little girl, going with my mom to get some chickens for dinner, and had to go inside the farm because she thought I was “too young” to stay in the car by myself. That day was one of the most traumatic moments of my life, when I saw all of those chickens and ducks squeezed into these tiny cages, feathers, blood, and feces everywhere, and the smell of fire and blood was distinct in that farm. I witnessed my mom picked two chickens that day and watching one of the butchers crack the neck of the chickens and skin it so that it was ready for us to cook. That day, I could not eat the soup that my mom tried to gave me, as I was sick to my stomach remembering that farm over and over again. I remember avoiding meat for a week because of that experience! Sadly, because of the family lifestyle and the cultural affects placed on me and my family, I never stopped eating meat.

I agree with Ken’s statement saying that it’s easier switching to a eco friendlier car than switching one’s diet. I speak from personal experience because it’s been pretty difficult trying to switch to a plant based diet myself. I think it’s based a lot on how I was raised and it’s like I’m being asked to change all of my habits by just changing this one small thing about myself. Where as if someone just told me to get a car that would have the same functions and help the environment, I would be more than excited and willing to do so.

Even though Kip Anderson did include some false information and may have evoked an alarmist type feeling, the film was a moving one…He was so determined and eager from the very beginning to explore this issue and visited plenty of organizations such as Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Oceana, Rain Forest Action Network etc.

Honestly, I feel that Cowspiracy lost some credibility once I heard that the food industry is only responsible for 15% of the GHG emissions, not 51%. It is a pretty big difference and claiming it as fact just makes me want to take a step back from the doc and not support it as much as I want to. However, if you can disregard this blatant mistake, Cowspiracy was very enlightening…

I was also shocked to hear that fracking uses 100 billion gallons of water, but compared to the 34 trillion gallons of water used in raising livestock in the U.S. I could not believe it. For the amount of coverage that fracking and oil industries get for being the cause of the climate crisis you would think the bigger agricultural problem would be discussed even more.

My initial reaction after watching the film was of extreme surprise. I did not even realize how ignorant I was about the extreme consequences that eating meat and livestock causes for the planet. The fact that just 1.5 BILLION cows (out of a total 70 BILLION livestock animals) drink 45 billion gallons of water and consume 135 billion pounds of food every day is absolutely mind-blowing. I didn’t even fathom such high numbers and such an extreme amount of resources that goes into producing only a few pounds of the meat that I eat everyday.

[T]he film made me want to go even further and switch to a vegan diet, that was until my roommate made a quesadilla later that night. These instances made me realize just how integrated the meat industry is into our everyday lives, even those exposed to this documentary, and even people like me who are already making somewhat of an effort to combat this industry in their diets.

The Green New Deal (deep dive)

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

As I watched the “A Message From the Future” video, I was inspired and surprised by the hope of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She detailed how we could fix our planet, and I felt myself becoming inspired and optimistic. The visuals of what our planet could look like, too, filled my heart with joy. As the news segment in the Vox video stated, we can’t ever be too much when it comes to our planet. I like the addressing of the fact that there is going to be hurt if the New Green Deal passes, people can and will probably lose their jobs in the fossil fuel industry, and I admire that they took that problem head-on instead of ignoring it.

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I also really loved and was inspired by the “A Message from the Future” video. The short film was very interesting and the visuals kept it easy to understand and fun to watch. It was really inspiring to hear someone be so optimistic and positive about where we are headed policy-wise and what our future will look like if we take the steps now. Some of these things are really interesting, like medicare for all and more jobs with good wages. These are all positive things. I found it interesting when AOC mentioned how in the future they will think “We are lucky to have started acting when we did.” This is important to keep in mind because as we drag on not implementing any policy or legislation to help mitigate climate change, the effects and consequences of our actions on the planet will just worsen. If we start now, we will be saying we are lucky to have started when we did, but if we put it off any longer we will be wishing we started sooner.

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That video made me have hope again on politicians, mostly because the words from her mouth were positive and hopeful, instead of the usual pessimistic and narcissistic comments we usually get. This is refreshing, this made me have hope that we are in the right direction to change how government acts and to have a better chance in fixing our problems. It was depressing to hear Dianne Feinstein, someone who is representing OUR state, say that it cannot pass. But then who have someone like Cortez, who is bringing a new optimistic point of view to the muddy and toxic waters that is politics and it is definitely what we need when most of us react with cynicism.

[AOC may have coined the term “climate delayer” in an Instagram video as a response to Feinstein.]

Americans seem to not understand the gravity of the climate crisis, as the video, “Why You Still Don’t Understand the Green New Deal,” explains that people are often influenced through “tactical framing;” determinants of an issue are solely based on the partisanship of an issue. Professor Ken also mentioned how Trump has utilized this tactic in one of his tweets critiquing the Green New Deal. Therefore, instead of people looking at the actual contents of the Green New Deal itself, they would rather critique it prematurely. Trump has treated the Green New Deal as a threat to national security through tactical framing, but in reality, the climate crisis itself poses a threat to national security

Green New Deal comprises two parts. Part 1 describes amount decarbonization, closing coal, oil, natural gas businesses in order to stop the increasing 2C above the limit. Part 2 addresses the concerns that millions of people will lose jobs, guarantees jobs, high quality health care for workers who will lose their coal, oil, natural gas jobs. This is to make sure the gap between the wealthy and the poor from getting worse. It’s sad how a deal to help our planet is deemed as a socialist move. Yes it does require government action, but it’s for the betterment of the future. And Part 2 of the Green New Deal addresses the job lost for people in coal industries, which will help the economy and businesses that switch investment into renewable energies.

To be honest, the Green New Deal is so perfect in theory that it seems like a joke…First of all, there is (unfortunately) no way that EVERY American will decarbonize, aka reduce their carbon emissions to zero. We simply do not have the foundations set for this change, and setting them will not only take a long time, but will cost trillions of (nonexistent) dollars. We do not have the proper public transportation systems, we do not have enough renewable energy sources to supply the entire country, and we do not have the support of the entirety of the United States to turn to plant-based diets. As much as I wish there was a way, I do not see the entire industrial and economic structure of the United States adjusting to these new ways of living as quickly as we need them to. That being said, let’s imagine that we COULD halt all carbon emissions, or at least drop them to extremely low levels. How are we going to guarantee that no more inequality is created in this process?…Everyone who studied and worked hard in the no-longer-existent industries (oil, animal farming, automotive) would have to be re-trained to work other jobs. This requires time and money.

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I agree with your comment above. Like you, I found the Green New Deal to be ‘too good to be true’. Additionally, I have a similar outlook on how every american will ‘decarbonize’, reducing their carbon emissions to zero to be completely foolish. Identically, I believe that if we decide to pursue this method in solving the climate crisis, it will take a long time and trillions of dollars that we don’t currently have. I felt like this deal is gearing humanity to the worst possible scenario similar to an apocalyptic situation.

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What do we have to lose? I feel like if we all just believe the green new deal is too good to be true, then we are doomed to perpetuate our current pattern of environmental abuse. If you could go back to the very start of the Great Depression, wherein FDR first put forth his New Deal reforms, people most definitely said the same things that you are saying now. Yes it is a radical change, but the size of the change is equivalent to the size of the problem, and relying on precedent, something we often must do when pursuing change, we know that the Green New Deal will work in regards to actual implementation.

As far as your point on the lack of participation from everyday people goes, the reality of it is that the government can create incentives for people to participate, ranging from taxes on carbon, which would make plane travel incredibly expensive as Ken has thoroughly addressed, and removing current government subsidies on corn, which is primarily used to feed livestock. The latter action would reduce the amount of livestock food, thereby decreasing the amount of livestock and their carbon emissions.

While the wage gap is something that people commonly, and correctly, link to the industrial revolution, the industrial revolution, and sweeping energy reform like it, does not directly correlate to income inequality, but the economic situation that brings about energy reform does directly impact the possibility of income inequality. In the case of the former, capitalist pursuits caused companies to gain from the labor of factory workers, making those owners rich and the workers comparatively poor. However, the Green New Deal not only is facilitated by the government, but also aided by 21st century social policies, like unions, that prevent companies from blatant worker exploitation and lobby for higher wages, something not around during the start of the industrial revolution. Furthermore, access to affordable healthcare further augments the modern nature of the Green New Deal’s reforms; allowing all workers that facilitate the transition to green practices access to quality health care they can afford, we allow their income to go further than it otherwise would. The combination of more worker’s rights, more wages for workers, and affordable healthcare for workers, all three of which were not present at the dawn of the industrial revolution prevent a return to archaic worker exploitation many fear will result. Additionally, the government is facilitating the transition to green energy, and with the government’s oversight any problems not previously addressed are solvable, and lets the government mitigate the ability of companies to go unchecked in the realm of worker exploitation.

For example how Trump tweeted about the Green New Deal making everything from cars to cows to the military being outlawed, when this is not the point of this deal. The Green New Deal does not make any mention of what was in Trump’s list, which the general conserative public does not know, and most believe what was said in the tweet. We need to use our platforms to correctly educate the public on current events, like the climate crisis, instead of BS and skewed words to the public.

I think the AOC video was very uplifting, and left me feeling excited about a beautiful future, rather than the usual terror and hopelessness I feel as I do the homework for this class. I have a few conservative relatives who post terrible things about AOC on Facebook. They call her stupid, crazy, a child…the list goes on and all of it is disrespectful, condescending, and flat out untrue. This video was one of the few things I’ve seen that I felt could actually change their minds if they took the time to watch it.

THANK YOU for bringing up the U.S. military’s incessant presence in the middle east. The middle east homes between 2/3 and ¾ of the world’s oil reserves, and it is surely no coincidence that the U.S. is so fixated on creating conflict within Middle Eastern territories. While it seems counterintuitive to create problems with an area they are trying to gain something from, it also makes sense as it fortifies their general presence within the Middle East. Not to mention, international conflict quickly and effectively distracts from national issues, including the United States’ ridiculous amount of oil and gas extraction and consumption.

I just had a (somewhat) friendly debate with some family members about the details of the Green New Deal. As both of the Vox videos point out, the news as a whole, has not been covering the details, actions, and repercussions of this documentation, and therefore, common folk citizens are not aware of what the document outlines, predicts, or warns. This is detrimental for so many surface reasons, but as I learned from the conversation with these family members, it is especially catastrophic because they do not understand that The Green New Deal has promised to HELP the middle class, guarantee jobs, and maintain helpful infrastructure that would BENEFIT their (and their future generations’) lives in SO MANY ways. My family members did not know that this piece of future legislation could HELP them, instead they were swayed to look above and across the actual pieces of substance within the document. They have been directed to not look at the facts of the document, but rather the alleged myths surrounding its consequences. TGND has been framed and fabricated to be portrayed a certain way; to be a distraction in order to split the parties even further. We, especially those involved in democratic newscasting, NEED to understand this downfall and start reporting on the actualities of this document.

Donald Trump, mention in Ken’s video, intentionally drew the public’s attention to cows and planes and attempted to lead the negative trend of public opinion. As AOC says in “A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” the Green New Deal…[is an opportunity]…for the economic system to change. This is like grabbing food from a tiger’s mouth, and none of the capitalists…[want that].

The fact that many in America opposed The Green New Deal without even knowing what’s in it is in large part due to the media. The media only portrays what gets the most views and thus explaining boring stuff such as CO2 emission projections would get less views than “What do the Kardashians think of the Green New Deal” or “Why Trump think The Green New Deal is The Devil’s Work.” If we don’t alter our hunger for bullshit politics on every little thing then the public won’t really know what is going on.

I don’t really keep myself up to date with AOC, I feel like I admire her from afar and the most I hear about her is when Trump or some Republican criticizes her on social media. Her video was definitely my favorite to watch. It made the problem seem a lot more tangible and her quote at the end of the video, “We can be whatever we have the courage to see”, emphasized that. I find it very admirable that AOC is so young, it makes me think of all the possibilities I have to make a difference.

Going into this week, I already had knowledge of the Green New Deal from previous classes. However, what most surprised me this week was the discussion of how the Green New Deal was interpreted by the media and the public. In the video, “Why you still don’t understand the Green New Deal”, I was incredibly shocked by how the interpretation by the media affects viewers partisan actions, even though this so clearly makes sense. When people feel that their beliefs are being threatened, they go into defense mode, and will rarely look into information further that does not advance their point of view. When we think about this issue in the larger scale, it is a good explanation for why so many issues become partisan. Ultimately, I think this role of the media is incredibly detrimental to environmental education and political beliefs.

In the larger scope of this week, this issue is touched on again in Ken’s video. He noted that some larger environmental issues such as meat production and air travel are not touched on in the Green New Deal, possibly due to fear of political backlash. Although understandable when you consider the “shut off” in the public when their beliefs are threatened, it makes me think. If we are just going to remove the most important issues from proposals, will we ever make progress?

“Why You Still Don’t Understand the Green New Deal” showcased what annoys me most about the mainstream media– that they do not focus on policy, rather on politics. The media is full of neo-liberal shills and are heavily funded by the fossil fuel industry. Hence, they do not support progressives like Sanders or AOC, or progressive ideas like Medicare-For-All or the Green New Deal. It is so frustrating that media, even “liberal” media, is so biased against progressive policies. It pisses me off, tbh. Lastly, AOC’s future video… all I can say is WOW.

As much as the Green New Deal is nice and environmentally conscious, I don’t see much potential in this particular directive bringing about collaborative change across both aisles. It’s not difficult, for instance, to see why it might not pass if Capitol Hill continues to vote along party lines, instead of fighting for what’s right. Secondarily, I see a lot of idealism in the proposal itself, but many of its goals have very low chances of being attainable. Take the ratio of successful job re-trainings, for instance; even though it seems possible on paper that coal miners can be transitioning to software engineers or solar plant workers, that percentage in real life is usually less than 15% because people who transition out of their jobs will feel upset and pessimistic about their livelihoods being taken away. So there are definitely a lot of barriers to the Green New Deal, and although we should by all means support climate-friendly initiatives, we cannot view this document as a magical write-up solution to all the problems we are facing right now.

I found that both of the Vox videos were very informative. I wish that everyone saw these types of commentaries in highschool. The second video focused heavily on the idea of “tactical framing”. This is where a problem is presented and publicized based on its politics instead of its contents. The media will never focus on the different policies in the green new deal and break down their benefits. Instead, the focus is often put on how popular it is, or if it will help democrats or republicans. I think that I myself often can fall for “tactical framing” and become more cynical about politics than I should be. In my mind, it’s always important to keep in mind how easy it is to cloud one’s judgment with cynicism.

Being the Change (deep dive)

(Note that the below observations and questions were taken from the YouTube comments for the above short video lecture. They have not been paraphrased or altered, though often just part of the comment is reproduced here.)

At first I was a little confused while watching this film; however, I realized that through Peter’s journey I was able to see his awareness about the impact of his actions on the planet and his willingness to reduce his carbon footprint. It is fair to say that he sets a very good example of an environmental activist and definitely motivates me to find zero CO2 emission alternatives and live a more sustainable life. Peter seems to look out for future generations, which I think is important because our actions are going to be reflected on our kids and grandchildren. As one of the guests in the films said,  “politicians should act in the best interest of future generations”.  To elaborate on that, we seem to forget about the lives that are being affected by our growing economy and our consumerism lifestyle and the state of the planet we are leaving behind us. Peter mentioned several times that personal actions lead to collectivism and he seems to hope for the best. I believe that we must change the bad habits that we are in control of and progressively advocate to educate others about climate change and how they can contribute to it. Peter went from 20 tons to 2 tons of CO2 emissions by starting with one change at a time, thus just like him we can set daily goals that over time will change our cultural practices and may end up enriching our life. We cannot allow ourselves to depend on materialistic stuff to bring happiness to our lives, and as mentioned in the film, material stuff can vanish in an instant.   

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yes yes yes…Smart legend. I love your take on this. Peter’s journey was quite inspiring. To go from such a high emission rate of CO2 to such a low rate is truly amazing, and shows that we all have the power to lessen our carbon footprint. The one key takeaway I’ve had from this class for sure is that I need to lower my carbon footprint. I have already begun my journey and am proud of it. Progress is possible. We just have to believe in ourselves and each other, and take action.

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When watching the film “Being The Change” I also noticed how Peter was able to create a major reduction in his emissions not by making a single change in his life, but rather by making a series of small changes in his daily habits. For example,  Peter says that over 4 years he made changes such as forgoing flying, growing much of his own food, using a bike instead of a car for transportation, and choosing not to eat meat. In the end, these changes combined to reduce his emissions by more than 10x what they were just 4 years prior…

In my opinion the way out of these lifestyles is not with more technological progression, but rather by realizing that our reliance on technology has actually been a catalyst for the climate crisis that we find ourselves in today. As Peter states in the film “the burning of fossil fuels has really fueled this myth of progress…that we can do anything with technology.” In my opinion, we need to stop believing in this “myth” and follow the lead of people like Peter who have gone against our need to constantly progress, and have actually found greater happiness in doing so.

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Many people may argue that their life wouldn’t be as fulfilling, happy or meaningful. For one, we have to realize that sacrifice is the only way we are going to progress with the climate change issue. Major change requires major sacrifice. We can’t expect to always get what we want and not expect to have to do something for it and it seems so many people have this mindset. For example, Peter mentions that he and his wife really wanted to have a third kid, but realizing that population increase was such a big contribution to climate change, they decided two was enough. This is a very selfless act because most people would say “it’s just one more kid what does it really matter” or “some families are having 6 or more kids so why can’t I just have one more.” These arguments are similar to “if I don’t go on this plane it’s only one empty seat and the plane will still use the same amount of emissions.” People don’t see the bigger picture of if 1000 families agree to not have that third kid, that’s 1000 less kids. Or like they said in the movie, if 300 people don’t go on that flight that could be one less plane ride. And too, there were many parts of the documentary that shows how actively cutting down your carbon footprint can make your life MORE meaningful and happy. For example, the one mom walks her children to school everyday. That is 20 minutes of conversation and time with her family that I’m sure she and those kids will hold dear to their hearts forever. Plus it is great exercise which there is evidence that proves exercise increases brain function so those kids are probably going to do better in school and the mother is more successful at work.

[The notion of the “tragedy of the commons” is useful in this context of having one more child or getting on that airplane.]


I loved this week’s film, “Being the Change”, I loved seeing the happy family live a simple, sustainable life with the climate crisis in mind. I applaud this lifestyle because he and his family emit only 1/10th of what the average American emits. The combination of science and spirituality is resounding and very appealing. However, one thing rang in my head throughout the film, “Of course they can live this lifestyle, they are obviously very educated and comfortably Middle Class.” I couldn’t help but think how great it would be to only travel by bike but how can my mother carry all her house cleaning supplies on a bike? How can my father carry all his tile pasting, cement and floor buffers on a bike? My parents are not educated and do not have the choice to get better jobs. They are just trying to survive and help my sister and I hopefully thrive one day. More than anything I would love to also emit 1/10th of what the average American emits but it will be very difficult to change my family’s financial position. Of course I will continue to practice freeganism, consume less stuff, take trains instead of planes and live in smaller spaces however it irks me that relatively wealthy Americans point at impoverished families who have many children and drive large SUVs. How about they look at their own lives and see that their McMansion and wasteful habits are even more detrimental to the planet. I still appreciate this film because it encouraged its viewers and gave me a sense of hope. No matter how small a lifestyle change is, it will have a profound impact on the planet and society as a whole.

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Your comment about your parents hit me hard: my dad has no choice but to have cases either sent out by plane or by car (it’s bad, I know, but I unfortunately cannot think of a less environmentally destructive way to go about delivering crowns and dentures as quickly as possible to people who need them), however makes up for it by leaving essentially no waste when eating and favoring a heavily plant-based diet. Knowing this, I can only imagine that living the kind of life that Ken suggests might be borderline impossible for people living at or below the poverty line. There are definitely many people who can, however, and I strongly believe that people who have the liberty of choosing to make the shift toward climate friendliness definitely should, for the sake of both the people who cannot do so and the well being of the climate as a whole.

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I totally fucking agree with you! I feel like these ideas are all great, but they don’t really acknowledge the uneducated/working-class. My parents are both immigrants with a less than high school education,  my dad commutes to work at 3am to driving a truck for 10 hours and the last thing he would ever wanna do is get on a bike and bike home. We do not have a backyard to grow vegetables or recycle poop, we are surviving. My only wish is that one day I can give my family that lifestyle and we can begin to adopt some of these ideas into our daily lives. Living a simple and easy life is the dream I want to give. From the film I like that people were helping people, growing vegetables and giving them out. My father works delivering produce and when the produce does not meet the standard they will toss it, my dad takes some of the tossed produce home and distributes it with family and neighbors, because often times the produce is not very bad. Maybe a dent or a hole, not soft/hard enough.  So, we distribute it and it makes you happy to give.

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Your comment on this week’s film was so profoundly personal and utterly true because it points out the systemic  disparity of wealth that America needs to address when transitioning to an environmentally sustainable lifestyle. We cannot even begin to consider this change without understanding the inequalities enabled by a competitive, capitalist mentality that is promoted in almost every aspect of our own society. I like how you recognized that the financial stability that is necessary to achieve the lifestyle that Peter Kalmus and his family maintains is not a simple choice for many of us; it might well be a matter of sacrificing the only money that will put food on your table. For this reason, we ultimately need the radical social change that Ken has been advocating for during our class.

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I’m sorry Ken, but what part of Thomas’s life was “normal suburban life?” These were not practical lifestyle choices. This film felt culty and outdated. I hate to sound this critical because I truly enjoyed a good chunk of this film, but meditation, composting, and driving cars fueled by old vegetable oil is not something people can easily fit into their lives. Especially with small home/ apartment living with little to no yard to have a garden to grow self-sustainable food or compost in. Not everyone is an engineer who can take apart cars and build them back up again…


Having watched and enjoyed both of these films I must say that I thought Tomorrow was excellently done and had more of an impact on me personally. I really loved how this film stressed all the creative alternatives that can be found all over the world and it brings me hope to know that these systems are surviving and thriving. I loved how in Calderdale people just began planting food everywhere to help combat hunger as well as climate change, and I think this is such an easy thing for any city to do. I loved learning about the Permaculture in France and how effective it was, and wish to someday have a permaculture garden of my own. I also was very pleased that there is a factory in France that is completely green and they do everything sustainably and save a ton of money from it too. I also loved the talk of local currencies and a change in the education system, and all these amazing alternatives fill me with a lot of hope. Change is possible and it is slowly happening around the world. If only more people knew of the success of these stories and wanted to follow suit. I would love to see all of these changes implemented in America and even in my city, and I hope that we as a nation can see that there is a way better, more just way to do things that is no longer an option, but a necessity.


I think that the film “Being the Change ” is an incredible film because it tackles climate change from such a holistic approach. I mean when was the last time that someone told you that you could fight climate change via meditation? If I had to guess I would say never. But what a unique tool meditation is; I think Kalmus’ revelation about this is astounding. In order to tackle the systematic failures that we see externally, we have to reflect and repair internally at first. The idea of reconstructing our internal systems and how we think is crucial to solving the climate crisis. How can we be expected to go out and solve problems if we still have not confronted our personal issues? Meditation and simply the practices of being more present and altruistic allow us to be happier and impact more lasting changes not only within ourselves but also our communities.


I wanted to make a second comment about this week’s film, “Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution”. My roommate is also in this class and I woke up this morning to her watching the film. She was on the part where Paul explains how meditation has made a difference in his life and opened his mind to relating to others. It made me think about this week’s reading and how Ken focused on relating to others when communicating with them about the climate crisis. He stressed not to focus on your personal actions or side of the topic and to instead wait for them to be ready to hear you and to listen to their questions and concerns. I thought this connected to Peter’s views on meditation because of how it helped him to be more considerate of others and to be conscious of the “gift” of negativity. He says that we reflect our negative feelings on everyone around us. We are constantly giving away this “gift” of negativity and it then transfers its effects onto other people. It creates a chain of pain, but when you meditate, you can choose to break the chain by not giving your negativity away. Paul believes in the power of meditation and that it allows us to focus on what truly brings meaning to our lives. Similar to how we need to be conscious of others in communication, we need to be conscious of our gift of negativity. We may not need to meditate everyday, but we should live our lives with more awareness of the effects we have on the people around us and the effects our conversations have on their lives as well.


I really enjoyed watching “Being the Change” and liked the fact that Peter’s family prime example of what a future family dynamic could like. Although the nuclear family isn’t for anyone and society should not restrict us to that lifestyle, many Americans often conform to that dynamic. This being said, the sustainability of a whole family’s lifestyle, that Peter’s family so beautifully put into action, is the cultural change that must be implemented to gear our society towards a life with a lower carbon footprint.

On the other hand, the documentary also mentioned intrinsic motivations and how they align with your moral principles. We can add more meaning to our lives by taking action and doing things that are beneficial for our environment which in turn are beneficial for us on so many levels. Taking care of our earth is something that we must implement into our daily lives, whether it be through making daily diet choices, transportation choices, or being a climate activist. The documentary emphasized the fact that individual action is just as important and collective action. This being said, our daily choices and actively choosing options that are beneficial for the earth the climate is one way we can exercise our power and be climate activists.


While watching the film Being the Change, I was interested to see someone with such a technology-based major in college to be straying away from technology due to climate change. It goes to show that just because you may enjoy technology or even work in the field of technology, you can still advocate for a life with less technology at least in the sense of the technology not needed. What attracted most of my attention in this film was the fact that all of this was happening in Pasadena because my hometown is just a few miles from there. It shocked me that I have never heard of some of the groups and places expressed in the film. I really enjoyed hearing about Transition Pasadena and Repair Cafe Pasadena because both were based on volunteer work to power the entire thing. Being based on volunteer work thus allows these groups to be available to all people no matter what their economic or class status may be. Additionally, hearing how students from Caltech and other colleges would come to the Repair Cafe made me so happy because it was a win-win-win situation in the way that citizens would get their items fixed, we would have less electronic waste, and students would get to test their skills when trying to fix these items.

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It honestly reminded me of the documentary about minimalism in a sense. It goes to show that not ever materialistic item is absolutely necessary in our lives. Actually, I think this documentary tied in a lot of things we’ve been talking about recently. Again, I am reminded that change is possible and that I can make an effort to make alterations in my diet and overall consumer habits. I like your emphasis on how we’re always told to change our habits but not actually shown how. I think even someone going through a list of how to change your lifestyle isn’t enough because many people need something to visualize. Some things may seem far fetched to people and they’re like “I’d never be able to get rid of technology!” And then you can show them this film, which has someone who literally loves learning about the field of technology and can still stray away from it in their own personal life, and they’re more likely to be like “ok, maybe it is possible.”


The documentary “being the change” changes my perspective on being an environmentalist. I used to associate having a sustainable lifestyle as having a less fulfilling life. Seeing Peter and his family’s lifestyle shows me that being sustainable can also give you fulfillment and happiness. I like how they take advantage of everything they can do to lessen their carbon emission. For example, they pick fruits that are otherwise going to be wasted to give out to their community to solve dumpster diving.