Years of Living Dangerously Series Premiere: “Dry Season” Recap – Global Warming Is Real.
Season 1, Episode 1
Air date: Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 10PM E/P on Showtime.
Years of Living Dangerously is one of the best documentary series on climate change I’ve ever seen. There seems to be a bevy of series and special reports on television right now about the ever changing extreme weather patterns as of late. It’s hard not to notice when half the country has been reeling from the effects of dramatically cold weather – aka the polar vortex – and the increasing costs of gas and propane to heat their homes.
And right now, California weather is very dry and impacting the state’s agriculture severely. But with these dry, hot temperatures, the potential for hazardous wild fires increases. Even if you don’t believe in climate change — even if you are religious and believe the weather is an act of God —Years of Living Dangerously provides enough information for you to choose from to do with it what you will. What I like about Years of Living Dangerously is it doesn’t preach to you; it doesn’t shout at you (figuratively) and it doesn’t berate you. The purpose of this docu-series intends to open the doors to communication, to learn, and understand what these scientists are discovering about our planet.
The celebrity actors and activists aren’t showcasing their fame; they are using it to help bridge the communication gap. Some people may not want to listen to a boring scientist talk about climate change but throw in a few famous actors to help tell their stories, and then you have people’s attention. It’s sad most people aren’t readily willing to listen to the scientific evidence if not told in a more appealing package, but Years of Living Dangerously provides us with the best of both worlds.
The series is segmented and each episode features two or three main stories. In “Dry Season,” we go with Harrison Ford to Indonesia to learn more about deforestation and the increasing demand for palm oil. It shocks me to find out deforestation causes 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. When you cut down trees, you kill them, which causes a release of all the carbon they’ve been absorbing for years. Trees are our natural filters for the air. If you want to put a religious spin on this, think of trees as God’s natural air filters. They take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. It’s amazing when you think about it.
While in Indonesia, Ford uncovers political corruption, and the senseless destruction of the native animals’ habitats. He then travels back to the capital to speak with the Minister of Forestry and the President of Indonesia. While the Minister of Forestry seemed a bit uncooperative, the President of Indonesia showed concern. But as he said, he is one man and cannot see everything that goes on in the country. What appalls me is how innocent animals are treated. Elephant herds are poisoned to remove them from the land and orangutan mothers killed leaving their babies orphaned. Thankfully, there is a wildlife preserve that houses these poor orangutans but living in captivity will surely have its own adverse effects on these animals.
Then, we take a road trip with Don Cheadle to Plainview, TX where a severe drought over the last four years has caused a major meat packing plant to shut down, leaving the town’s citizens in dire straits. Some of the townsfolk hold a weekly ritual every Saturday morning – they walk the four miles around the now closed plant and pray for rain. Many Plainview residents believe the drought is an act of God.
This segment particularly intrigued me because one of the women says she doesn’t know anything about climate change. I was flabbergasted. Is there a filter on the type of news this town receives? Another reason I found this segment so interesting is because of Katharine Hayhoe. She is a climate scientist but she’s also a devout Evangelical Christian. The way she explains things to the people of Plainview about what’s happening to our climate is astonishing. As Cheadle says, if there were more people like Hayhoe, science and religion could truly coexist. Being non-religious, I firmly believe in climate change – the evidence is right in front of us but I appreciate the fact that others in the world aren’t as devout in their faith in science as I am.
Finally, we go to war torn Syria with the NY Times Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Thomas L. Friedman. Friedman explores the possibility that Syria’s record drought may be a main contributor to their civil war. There are so many variables that go into a civil war but the main reason people turn against their government is lack of resources to help them sustain their livelihood. With drought, food runs scarce because you cannot grow plants without water. With food scarcity, poverty and hunger can turn humans into beasts. Without government relief, revolution is inevitable.
Even here in the United States, again using California as an example, the drought has affected agriculture and farms that have been running for generations, and may force them to shut down, leaving families with uncertain futures. Businesses who rely on the produce the farms grow to run their businesses also suffer. Everything is connected. In a world of mass produced food products, if there is no rain to grow crops, eventually the food will run out. It’s not to say that the drought is the sole cause for the civil war in Syria, but it could certainly be a major player.
Years of Living Dangerously premieres Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 10PM ET/PT.
It airs at 10PM ET/PT on Sundays for the first four weeks then moves to Mondays at 8PM ET/PT beginning Monday, May 12 for the remainder of the season
For more on the show and to watch the premiere, go to http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/