My column in today’s Lokmat looked at documentaries and environmental awareness
It is clear to most people that the world weather patterns are changing–and human activity is one of the contributory factors to pollution, global warming and climate change. In the last two decades, there has been greater public awareness than ever before on nature, its diversity, human impact on nature, and use and conservation of Natural Resources. A number of feature films, documentaries and TV shows have been made to increase environmental awareness and create an appreciation about nature and its diversity. Here is a list of themes and films that are must-watch to gain a greater appreciation of the world around us.
Appreciating the Natural World: A great documentary series as a starting point is David Attenborough’s Life on Earth. The series travels across the globe to look at the evolution and growth of life on earth. A companion series to this The Living Planet is also a must-watch. Together, they tell you the diversity of life forms and the need to conserve. Other films that create an immense love for other inhabitants of the planet (apart from humans) is the Oscar Award Winning March of the Penguins, The Truth about Tigers—made by Shekar Dattatri, which looks at the magnificent cat, how it is in danger of disappearing, and finally what we can do to save it.
Dams: In the debate between those who take absolute positions on Environment and Development, there is nothing more polarising than the Dam–a wall that impedes the natural flow of water, diverts rivers, and changes lives. It impacts the world around it both in positive and negative ways. There have been many films made on this issue. Here are some that are definitely worth seeing. Anant Patwardhan’s A Narmada Diary made in 1997–discusses some of the more human aspects. It tells the story of people to be displaced by the coming of the Dam. Damocracy is another good documentary in this space that looks at the issue of dams and its impact on the environment worldwide.
Food: How we grow food that we eat, and what is the impact of this on the environment is another important issue that is worth considering. There have been a number of documentaries on this topic in the last 5 years. Food Inc–looks at the corporatization of the food chain and tells us how it impacts us as consumers. Poison on our Platter, made by Mahesh Bhatt & Ajay Kanchan, looks at the impact of chemical fertilizers in the food chain, and how it is poisoning us slowly. Bitter Seeds is a film that looks at the impact of companies like Monsanto on the marginal farmer, and relates it to a spike in farmer suicides.
Water: Without water none of us will last too long. Yet, for many on earth access to clean drinking water has become an issue. With an increasing trend towards privatisation of water, there are water riots in many parts of the world. There are some great documentaries in this space. One must watch film is Flow–for the love of water that looks at the issues regarding water, and some of the possible solutions. Another great documentary is Blue Gold–World Water Wars that looks at how clean fresh water is getting more and more scarce, and carterlised. It also asks if future wars will be fought for water.
Corporatisation: Mahatma Gandhi once said that “The world has enough for everyone”s need, but not enough for everyone”s greed”. The view that a Corporate entity is focused on profit maximisation to the exclusion of everything else, and that this has adverse effects on the environment, is a running theme in many documentaries on the environment. One film that looks at this in great detail, and provides capitalist solutions to the problem is The Corporation. While the focus of the film is not exclusively environmental, it covers a number of aspects that impact the world around us. Also worth watching is The Story of Bottled Water.
The environment is too important to be left to government. It concerns all of us, and our descendants. You too can highlight issues regarding the environment in your area–it could be the way garbage is dumped, to a hill that has disappeared, to a lake that has been polluted. The technology is available – all that it requires is your commitment.