Climate change is a human story. It is fundamentally about people.
That’s how movie producer James Cameron opened the Years of Living Dangerously premiere in a video message at World Bank headquarters on April 10. It is also at the heart of why the World Bank Group and other international development organizations dedicated to ending poverty also encourage and support low-carbon development: Climate change unabated will increasingly put everyone at risk, but it will be the poor and most vulnerable, those with the fewest resources to adapt, who will suffer the most.
Cameron’s new television series tracks the effects of climate change through the voices of those living through the dangers of more extreme and unpredictable weather and the impact on their work and lives. Research, including reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Turn Down the Heat series commissioned by the World Bank, has been warning of the impact that even a world 2 degrees Celsius warmer will have on food security, water resources, and the risk of urban flooding. The series takes viewers to see the early stages of those risks as they impact human lives from the shores of Kirbati to the farm fields of Kansas.
Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist who appears in the series, joined Conservation International Executive Vice President and Senior Scientist M. Sanjayan, and World Bank Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Rachel Kyte for a panel discussion before the premiere, arranged by Connect4Climate. Friedman contrasted the series with Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth: “That was one man giving a lecture to billions. Very importantly, this is billions giving a lecture to the world.”
In showing the human impact, the producers also show the human side of the scientists who have been raising the alarm about climate change and taking criticism for speaking out, Sanjayan said. He stressed that people need to see that scientists are working men and women who are their neighbors and peers.