Guest editorial | ParkRecord.com

Guest editorial

Sundance documentary ‘Chasing Coral’ stirs Parkite to fight climate change

Karen Werner, Park City

Over a year ago, I returned to the States with my husband and son, having lived in Australia for over 3.5 years. Living in a country where the ocean is everything to the people is equivalent to the way the mountains provide everything to us in Park City. Over in Oz, all of the major cities exist along the coastline and the ocean is the thing that gives back to the Australians. Families flock to the ocean each weekend, the locals walk to the beach in their speedos and the fish markets are plentiful. The culture of the Aboriginal people run deep where their land next to the ocean is sacred, just as our land.

Last week I rallied to see the Best of Fest's "Chasing Coral" with Jeff Orlowski. James Balog, photographer follows the journey of former Advertising man, Richard Vevers and coral nerd, Zackery Rago, to capture evidence of mass bleaching of coral ecosystems. The movie is a story based film but gives us knowledge and clear colorful imagery about what lies beneath the surface. Coral reefs are rainforests and contain diverse ecosystems and provide food for over a billion people. Coral reefs are not plants but are classified as an animal species. The movie explains when water temperatures rise by more than 1 to 2 degrees Celsius fatal coral bleaching events happen. As the movie goes on, team capture time lapses of coral reefs dying. Through many sophisticated camera techniques, they experience many setbacks and disappointments that lead them into manually diving into the ocean to capture the images in exhausted efforts. In the end, the audience sees the artistic beauty of the beautiful coral and simultaneously feels the emotional side of the dying of coral. And in the end, the film leaves us sad but gives us hope, as the coral nerd is seen driving a colorful ocean bus that travels around the US to educate children.

A few days after the film, I went to Round Valley to ski with my dog. I thought about how great it is to savor this open-space. I was at the highest peak called Barrell Hill looking west at the mountains and felt more globally connected and extremely vulnerable to the monumental risks of climate change than ever before. Could that moment have caused me to write about the rapidly accelerating human caused destruction of coral reefs? Perhaps it ignited something but I believe it's time to protect both my world and my friends' world who live in cities next to the ocean.

Regardless of whether you savor the earth or ocean, I would encourage you to help. Human caused climate change is upon us and it's indifferent and unforgiving of our ignorance and apathy. All human efforts count, from the small impulsive emissions saving actions to investing in solar panels or engaging in political efforts to initiate climate saving legislative policy. If you want to engage in the latter, I can you one organization that promotes a logical and efficient plan to reduce CO2 emissions by putting a price on carbon based fuels. This group is called Citizens Climate Lobby. I have been a member of the local Park City chapter for six months and it's added value to my life since moving back to the States. Citizens Climate Lobby Park City is an engaged group of environmentalist who participate in many activities, providing education to locals from top notch scientists and giving opportunities to member to engage. If you savor our surroundings and would like more information please visit: http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org or send your inquiry to parkcity@citizensclimatelobby.org.