Overview: Having exposed the risks posed by natural gas drilling, known as fracking, in the documentaries “Gasland” and “Gasland Part II,” Josh Fox was struck by a sobering thought: “We could beat the fossil-fuel industry, but we still might lose everything we love to climate change.” Now, in this documentary he surveys the damage from possibly the greatest threat the world has ever faced, but also finds reasons for hope. It is all about showing how people around the world are taking action to protect their communities.
With his trademark humor, banjo in hand and signature investigative style, Fox travels to 12 countries on six continents and discovers that, while it may be too late to stop the worst consequences of climate change, there are sources of good news that must be supported and strengthened. Fox ponders the effects of continued global warming, such as rising sea levels, record droughts, superstorms, dying coral reefs, species extinction, food insecurity and increased conflicts over limited resources. In this action-packed, music-fueled odyssey, he visits both leaders and everyday citizens – some of whom chose to remain anonymous when Fox is shooting undercover – in a search for meaning and the things worth fighting for.
Expectations: If you have ever seen Josh Fox’s Gasland and Gasland Part II, both of which have appeared on HBO, then you know they are serious outcries about the ravaging effects the oil and gas industries have on the land. Even though he still features some banjo picking, those films are grim and disheartening to those opposed to environmental destruction and distress. The trailer of his latest though picks a more light-hearted approach to a serious topic. I’m intrigued by what he will share.
Bonus: Here are a few questions HBO posed to Josh Fox.
HBO: Why did you decide to include your personal journey in the documentary?
JOSH FOX: I think it’s a problem that climate change is framed in the media as a scientific issue and often times talked about in very academic ways. Climate change is about people. How to Let Go of the World… sucked me in and took me on this crazy ride. That journey is a big part of the experience of watching the film. The film strives to tell stories that really make it clear how this is a personal issue. It’s not an abstraction; it’s not something in the future. It’s something that’s happening now that we have to get involved with.
HBO: How would you describe the message of How to Let Go of the World?
JF: I thought I was making a film about climate change, and then in the middle of it I ended up making a film about the stunning revelation that it’s sort of too late to stop a lot of what we think about as climate change. That we have to refocus our dialogue to be about humanity as we progress through the most difficult period of change that we have ever seen. Do we want to be known as the moment in history that was incredibly violent, that was incredibly insensitive, that created wars, starved huge sections of the population, was selfish, and was racist? Or do we want future civilizations to look at this moment as the time we completely changed the way our civilization operates?
HBO: What knowledge or experience do you hope the audience walks away with?
JF: What we’re doing in this film is re-sensitizing. You’re watching people in the most dire circumstance, trekking through the Amazon, in China with the worst pollution you’ve ever seen in the world and at peril of losing their own civil liberties, still speaking out. It’s a remarkable occurrence. It’s catharsis. I don’t want it to feel like, “Oh, the future’s going to be rotten,” or “The future’s going to be great.” I want it to feel like, “Whatever future comes, I’m going to be awake.”
In Conclusion: So what are the things climate change can’t change? Josh Fox himself says they are, “courage, creativity, resilience, civil disobedience, innovation, human rights, democracy, community, revolution, love. These are principles that we must cling to if we’re going to keep our humanity.” He is not wrong with that list. For me, it is all about adaptability. We can’t be rigid, but must adapt to whatever the future holds. We have done it since we climbed down from the trees and will continue to do so. Take in HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD AND LOVE THE THINGS CLIMATE CHANGE CAN’T CHANGE if you want to embrace that concept as we brace for impact. Only you can determine for yourself if this outlook will help you deal with the issue.