Film Looks at Fate of ‘Climate Refugees’

Posted December 9, 2009 at 2:20pm

With all eyes focused on the climate treaty negotiations under way in Copenhagen, a new film examining the human cost of climate change is set for an advance screening in the Danish capital.

“Climate Refugees— is a firsthand look at the impact that rising sea levels and other environmental deterioration is having in displacing populations across the globe — from Alaska to mainland China to Africa’s Sahara desert.

“The movie is about the human face of climate change,— co-producer Stephen Nemeth said. “The millions and millions of people who will be without a homeland are considered a threat to national security.—

“Where do we put these people? Who pays for it? How do we honor their cultures and lifestyles if we have to displace them thousands of miles away? We in the U.S. are responsible for 25 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions. Are we going to take 25 percent of the refugees?— Nemeth said.

“If [Al Gore’s] ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ was about the cause of climate change, this film is about the effect and the solution,— director and co-producer Michael Nash said. The debate over climate change, he said, has become too bogged down in a fight over who or what is responsible. “Climate Refuges— bypasses that quagmire, showing the direct impact that the changing environment is having in displacing populations around the globe.

“It’s something that — regardless of what’s causing climate change — is happening. Our world is going to change,— Nash said.

Nash spent 30 months on the road shooting in climate change hot spots such as Africa, Bangladesh and China. The inspiration for “Climate Refugees— came from Nash’s work on his 2007 film “Fuel,— where he witnessed the firsthand impact of climate change during the process of shooting the movie.

Several current and former Members of Congress feature prominently in the film, including former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The film screened unofficially on Capitol Hill in late October as part of the IMPACT film festival, with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in attendance.

“Barbara Boxer, who is a huge supporter of the film, has basically indicated that she is going to use this as a tool to educate and promote her climate bill,— Nemeth said.

Both co-producers Nash and Nemeth are quick to point out that the issue of climate change and climate security transcends parties and ideologies. The film, Nemeth said, “is chock-full of people from the left and the right.—

When asked whether they thought the film would have an impact on the treaty negotiations under way in Copenhagen, Nash said, “I hope so.— Nemeth said, “In a perfect world — yes.—

Still, it will be a while before “Climate Refugees— shows up in either a megaplex or an art house theater. The film will officially debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Visit climaterefugees.com for more information.