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Film fest rich in educational value

“If you’re hyper-focused, you can punch above your waist.” — Brett Howell, founder, Howell Conservation Fund.

Learning was once referred as the 3 R’s, reading, writing and arithmetic — today the emphasis is on STEM, science, technology. engineering, and mathematics. Fields of study deemed critical to the career goals of the individual, providing leadership and support for the growth of the economy, and the policy making function of government. Some see 2020 as a year of re-alignment from a past focused on consumerism, to a future defined by concern for the climate and environment, a challenge difficult to accept, that will take time and understanding to deal with.

“There is about as much scientific consensus about human caused climate change, as there is about gravity.” — Michael Mann, director of Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University.

The year 2020 has been referred to as a “fire in a dumpster,” a reminder climate change is a serious issue and that more should be done about it. The year has been one of the warmest on record, contributing to drought conditions that facilitated the spread of wildfire — 10.6 million acres in the American West burned. Warming ocean temperatures generated 30 tropical storms, 12 of which made landfall, while in the corn belt strong winds caused $10.5 billion in damage.

It will be remembered as the year of the “anthropause” — a constraint on the activity of mankind from efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The climate and animal kingdom responded positively and quickly to the decrease in human activity caused by social distancing and quarantining. Less transportation, ground, marine, and air reduced green house gases, similarly decreased industrial output meant fewer carbon emissions. Wildlife biologists noted more movement in creatures with fins, feather, or fur.

The environmental movement of the present began with the first Earth Day celebration in April of 1970, which the environmental movement a sense of identity. In the prior month, activists at the University of Michigan held a mock trial for a 1959 sedan, symbol of the American automobile industry. The industry was found guilty of murder, pollution, the cause of congestion, neighborhoods destroyed, and farmland paved with thoroughfares. The sedan was sentenced to be flattened by sledgehammers.

The children, grandchildren, and great-grand of those that swung the sledges, hugged the trees, or were in other ways, will become the stewards for the future and should be confident in the future. From 1970 to 2019 six common aggregates, sources of air pollution, were reduced by 77% despite 60% increase in energy consumption and 48% growth in GDP.

This month Alpena will be a beacon streaming environmental literacy in virtual formatted Thunder Bay International Film Festival, Jan. 20-31. An important part of the festival is the student film competition, demonstrating the commitment of the following groups to prepare our youth — Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Friends of TBNMS, Michigan Sea Grant/MSU Extension, Huron Pines/AmeriCorps, and the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative of Northeast Michigan.

“I think it is in our nature to get beyond that next horizon. I think that when we as a species are scratching that itch, we are following an evolutionary compulsion that is wired into us. I think that good things come of it.” — Ron Howard, actor and director.

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