Earlier this month Grassroots International hosted a screening of the film This Changes Everything, a powerful documentary by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein about the connections between climate change and our current economic system. Based on Naomi Klein’s book (This Changes Everything: Climate vs. Capitalism), the documentary poses the question, “What if confronting the climate crisis is the best chance we’ll ever get to build a better world?”
Climate change isn’t something of the future – whole communities are being impacted now. As I write this the COP21 meetings are happening in Paris, and climate justice movements are converging there to hold our political leaders accountable and to demand real, binding commitments to stop the destruction of our environment. Grassroots International’s own Chung-Wha Hong and Sara Mersha were getting ready to leave for Paris the night of our event to meet up with our partners and allies, so this film screening was a way to connect our local community to the global movement for climate justice.
The screening was held at a big movie theater in downtown Boston, one that usually draws crowds for big budget blockbusters. This night, however, it was the movement for climate justice that drew the crowds. The event sold out in a matter of days and we had to upgrade to a larger auditorium! It was thrilling to be in such a big room filled with nearly 200 people, all there to learn together and to confront the issue of climate change.
Co-hosting the event with us was Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE), a Boston-based environmental justice organization that works to eradicate environmental racism and classism and to build sustainable communities.
The film highlighted the struggles of frontline impacted communities – those who are most affected by the industries that produce fossil fuels and who are most impacted by the extreme climate disruptions that result from the burning of such fuels. It showed the First Nation communities in Canada fighting to defend their land in the face of the Alberta tar sands mega project, and the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in low income communities in New York. It also highlighted movements of resistance in Greece, India and China, where people are rising up and putting their bodies on the line to stop the extractive projects that are ruining their land, water and air.
Audience members watched how the extractive economy dominates and drives exploitation of people and the planet. Two hundred years ago, when we started burning coal to run machinery, we a created a way to produce goods seemingly independently from nature – instead of depending on wind to sail or water to run mills, now things could be produced independent of the weather. Of course, the impacts on our atmosphere weren’t known at the time, but from this technology emerged the idea that humans could dominate, control and exist independent from nature. Today we must to face the fact that there is no way to separate ourselves from nature – we as people are part of nature.
As people left the theater they signed petitions asking the Obama administration to agree to binding commitments to real climate solutions – petitions carried to Paris on behalf of all of us.
On January 11, Boston-area folks will can come to a second screening of This Changes Everything and hear a report back from Paris… at least while tickets are available.