david attenborough, marina abramovic, and vivienne westwood set the record straight on climate change

Watch as cultural figures from Noam Chomsky to Cher respond to the threat of climate change in new film, 'In This Climate.'

by Matthew Whitehouse
06 December 2016, 9:08pm

When Donald Trump made his long and hitherto improbable ascent to America's highest elected office earlier this month, he became the world's only national leader to reject climate change — a rather extraordinary statistic, especially when you consider that cozy club of despots, tyrants, and reality TV stars contains the comparatively eco-friendly Bashar al-Assad, Robert Mugabe, and Kim Jong-un.

Good time for a climate change film like no other, then. Released by Liberatum, the global cultural movement founded by Pablo Ganguli in 2001, In This Climate seeks to highlight the environmental health of our world by bringing together some of the most respected figures and creative talents of our time — Sir David Attenborough, Marina Abramovic, Noam Chomsky, Vivienne Westwood, Cher, Mark Ruffalo — alongside those whose lives have been irreversibly damaged by rising sea levels. Offering their personal insights and perspectives on the issues surrounding climate change — and, crucially, how our civilization can combat it — the film is a compelling document of a world is facing up to its responsibilities, one that more than reflects the gravitas of the issue.

Watch the trailer and read our chat with the film's makers, Liberatum founder and Pablo Ganguli and creative director Tomas Auksas.

How did In This Climate first come about?
We made a conscious decision last year to transform Liberatum into a cultural house not only to create dynamic artistic content around the world but to shed light on issues and causes that are having huge impact on humanity and our planet. The environmental crisis is the biggest one facing our civilization, so we urgently wanted to do something about this issue. There are, of course, other issues affecting people around the world and we will be working on some of them too, through the arts.

Why was now the right time for Liberatum to make a film about the environment and climate change?
As a society, we have reached the tipping point and if we don't act now, there is very little hope. We strongly believe there needs to be a cultural shift in order to combat climate change, therefore making this film now to spread information and inspire action among young people was an important goal. People need to be aware there are possible solutions. Not just an abstract concept. Real solutions. But you must be willing to change habits from the way you eat to the way you travel.

How did you go about approaching contributors?
We select participants based on their knowledge, experience, and influence. From a victim of climate change in West Bengal, India who had lost her husband due to a cyclone to climate scientists at MIT and Harvard who have done years and years of research. From Hollywood activists who help spread the message to government officials that are working on solutions. We like to bring together a diverse group of minds to represent this diversity of our world and its many cultures.

Did you learn anything speaking to them that you didn't know before?
Apart from the basic knowledge that climate change was a major threat, we actually knew very little before making the film. Most of the things we know now, we learned while making this film. It was meant to be a short 6-10 min documentary but as soon as we started learning about the disastrous and frightening reality of climate change, we realized we needed to keep going and finding all the information that were available to us. There are so many aspects to climate change.

How dangerous is the prospect of a Trump presidency for the cause?
We are all hoping he will be a different president to the presidential candidate he portrayed himself to be. However, it's not only about Trump. Intuition tells us that the status quo, the "establishment" is not foolproof. I don't think any one person can expect change on their own. Climate change has been a longstanding issue for quite a while. It seems as though there are systemic barriers in place preventing positive change from taking place. We are astounded by the lack of action taken by our politicians to tackle this issue which only contributes to further degradation of our planet. There is evidence large corporations do not care at all. It will be interesting to see how Trump moves forward on this issue. It's not only up to him to fix this mess but of course his views and policies will have a huge impact. Let's hope they are not catastrophic ones.

What do you hope to achieve with the film?
Most of the documentaries on Climate Change have left us feeling helpless. We wish to empower people to make their own conscious decisions and not those imparted on them by politicians and others who now seem to be governed more by self interest than the interests of those they govern.

Can you tell us anymore about your one year program to promote wildlife conservation?
We are producing a one year cultural program for the environment in several countries worldwide from Papua New Guinea to Mexico to India and from China to Nigeria to the United States to promote environmental, climate change and wildlife conservation awareness. Protecting our wildlife, oceans, and nature are crucially important. The crisis of climate change is connected to all that. If we don't take care of our animals and respect them, how can we respect Mother Earth? Our program will feature workshops, talks, art installations, screenings and lectures featuring acclaimed minds and scientific experts. We are also working on a huge, landmark cultural auction to protect wildlife next year.

What is the one message you want to convey through the film?
We are all guilty and must unite to act together. There is no more time to blame politics. Let the change start in your own household. It's possible only if you are willing to change your lifestyle.

How important are art and creativity as a means of protest and sending a message?
Incredibly important. Art is a universal language. It unites people and helps bring together people from different cultures and with opposing views. Without creativity, our souls will be perpetually depressed.

What advice would you give any young campaigners who want to help?
Don't focus only on governments and big corporations. Educate the young generation and empower them by providing them with more knowledge on how they could contribute to combating climate change. Creativity and culture are a great way to inspire young people.

In This Climate is set for release before the World Economic Forum in January 2017.


Text Matthew Whitehouse

climate change
In This Climate