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2010 Sundance Film Festival Preview: Climate Refugees

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climate refugees

Just utter the terms “global warming” and “climate change” out loud and you’ll stir up a heated debate with almost anyone you encounter — scientists, politicians, colleagues and family members included. As our global population continues to question whether man is truly responsible for the issues that Mother Nature is currently facing, real-life consequences continue to materialize before our very eyes in the form of environmental degradation that forces people to relocate en masse for their very survival. When very unusual seasonal weather patterns end up triggering environmental disasters such as severe drought-stricken regions, storm surges and rising sea levels to occur, we must be prepared to deal with a new eco-casualty called the “climate refugee”.

The New York Times recently stated that depending on the global region and specific eco-conditions, we should anticipate having to account for 200 million climate refugees in just 40 years time if we continue to operate with a “business as usual” attitude.   According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index, the regions most likely to be affected first are Bangladesh, the Maldives (which is now struggling with how to relocate 300,000 people before their island becomes completely submerged), Somalia, Afghanistan, the Darfur region of Sudan and Haiti which sadly, has already proven to be true.

Filmmaker Michael Nash focuses on this increasingly escalating phenomenon in his Climate Refugees documentary through a combination of personal testimonials and jarring video footage. If viewers are not moved by the struggles of people who have had all of their worldly possessions swept away by the sea, then perhaps Nash’s judicious editing of 2 years worth of footage documenting the global warming views of authors, scientists and relief workers  will make more of an impact. Offering a comprehensive perspective of what happens to human beings when they are forced to evacuate their homes, Climate Refugees stirs profound questions and might even compel the most resistant naysayer to re-evaluate what really matters — saving lives and ensuring that future generations have a place that they can call home.

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