In director Jeff Orlowski’s award-winning documentary films Chasing Ice and Chasing Coral, he documents the devastating impacts of climate change on ecosystems around the world – from the Arctic glaciers to the Great Barrier Reef. In this discussion, he describes capturing those impacts on film while also offering an optimistic set of solutions for the future.
On the human toll of climate change: “Half a billion to a billion people live directly on or next to a coral reef…They are depending on coral reefs for their main source of protein. They need this fish supply for their main protein source. So if we lose coral reefs, which we are on the trajectory to do, what happens when a billion people lose their main source of protein? That is a massive human consequence that is being affected here.”
On solving climate change: “I am very, very confident we will solve global warming. I look at the planet as one big bank account. There is this huge bank account of planet earth. For all of human history, all of humanity has been able to withdraw as much as we want for all time, and we’ve been living off that interest with no issue for millennia… We’re killing the planet’s ability to heal itself. We’re killing the planet’s ability to handle these disasters and these devastations that are happening…We have this limited window of time now where we still are doing well enough that we can fix the interest rate. We can slow down our usage and it doesn’t need to be at the cost of economic growth. That’s the new and optimistic frontier that we’re at right now. The technology is there and the opportunities are there if we shift over faster, if we expedite this transition, if we make that transition unstoppable now, we can get back to the place where we are healthy enough and we can get back just living off the interest. That’s the opportunity.”