Past Presentation | A short animation based on Richard Heinberg’s book with the same title. It insists that humanity has reached a fundamental turning point in its economic history, and that the expansionary trajectory of industrial civilization is colliding with non-negotiable natural limits.
Past Presentation | Ian Cheny and Curt Ellis use innovative animation and music by Force Theory to tell the funny and poignant story of the challenges facing the union teams that constructed the revolutionary green buildings of tomorrow in today’s South Boston.
Now Playing | This film focuses on the global problem of how plastic is destroying our wildlife and polluting our seas. A plastic cup is personified and goes on its own adventure. Awarded Film of the Festival at the Blaenau Gwent Film Festival for young people.
Now Playing | A man who lives alone on his island goes on an unknown journey caused by the rising ocean. After witnessing a catastrophe on the way, he finds hope again with other people. But when the ocean rises again, this time he makes an unexpected decision to another unknown.
Now Playing | The Carbon Chronicles: Who owns the air? The Carbon Chronicles is an experimental animated visualisation of the build-up of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses has radically altered the Earth’s atmosphere. It is a collaboration between artists from the Manifest Data Lab and scientists from the British Antarctic Survey. The animation maps from the industrial revolution to the present day the regions contributing most to the climate crisis, which can be traced through the stalagmite growths representing CO2 emissions growing out from the different countries. Beginning with the UK in the 1750s, emissions from coal start enveloping the planet, other regions soon follow. By the late 1800s through to the current period, growing industrial and extraction activity in the Global North is responsible for 92% of CO2 with 8% coming from the Global South. The spread of CO2 described in the animation mirrors the wider historic processes of power distribution visited on poorer countries and shows that the atmosphere is as contested a space as the territories beneath it. The work describes a living breathing planet, under the pressure of human produced exhalations of CO2. It attributes responsibility in ways that can inform the need for equitable solutions to the climate crisis that are mindful of the historic consequences of carbon exploitation and its impacts. The Carbon Chronicles informs the need for equitable solutions to the climate crisis that are mindful of the historic consequences of carbon exploitation to ask: Who Owns the Air?
Past Presentation | With colorful animation depicting the history of straws and segments narrated by Oscar winner, Tim Robbins, we learn about problems caused by plastic pollution and how to be part of the solution. Each day in the U.S., over 500,000,000 straws are used once and tossed. The vast majority aren't recycled and end up in landfills, litter streets, or add to an estimated 8.5 metric tons of debris in oceans annually. Ocean Conservancy ranks plastic straws as the fifth most frequent item found on beaches.
Now Playing | Too much stormwater can be a big problem! This educational stop-motion animation series illustrates the causes of - and solutions to - dirty stormwater runoff. Join the Drain Ranger team, including Engineer Betsy, Juniper, Sophia and Ben as they discover ways we can all help keep our lakes, rivers and streams clean. This is Video 4 of the four-part series, and is titled: Dirty Stormwater Runoff: Advanced Engineering Solutions
Past Presentation | An animation short that informs and educates about the urgent issues that are threatening the future of wildlife and communities on the island of Madagascar. As an island nation of spectacular and unique biodiversity, Madagascar has over 80% of its animals and plants that are found nowhere else on Earth. Madagascar's Scars attempts to inform the viewer of the environmental crisis involving illegal logging, deforestation and hunting of the critically endangered lemur which threatens the future of the island, as well as offer hopeful solutions to protect the biodiversity and improve the lives of the Malagasy.
Past Presentation | This story is told in the Ainu language, which has been deemed a critically endangered language by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Higashiyama, the home of the foxes, has become an illegal dumping ground. This has resulted in the decline of small animals, which the mother fox relied on as prey to feed her children. The fox comes down for the mountains in search of food to feed her children, and comes upon a human village.
Past Presentation | The Protectors of the Wood Adventure Series is an illustrated story of a group of teenagers who save the world from climate change. Phoebe comes home from college to discover shocking changes threatening Middletown, her familiar childhood home. A gigantic corporation already owns many local businesses, and is threatening to destroy the lands, legends, and heritage of her family and friends. Mysteries arise as Phoebe unravels the secrets in her small town and realizes that they are connected to a global conflict. Together, Phoebe and her group of friends risk their lives to save the beautiful world around them called home.
Now Playing | Planet Earth - a brief history - depicting the evolution of the planet from the Hadean period to the Anthropocene period. An evolutionary history of life on Earth. The Earth has undergone constant change in its 4.54 Billion year history with life evolving in response to those changes - in particular to the changing atmospheric compositions of carbon dioxide and oxygen. Species extinction has been a natural part of the evolutionary process of the planet however there are now thought to have been at least 8 mass extinction events in the history of the Earth - each of major consequence to life on the planet and of import to our modern understandings of climate change. This 6 minute animation has been created by paleoartist Bruce Currie and has been commissioned by the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum – Bathurst.
Dr. Shanna H. Swan, one of the world's leading environmental and reproductive epidemiologists, joined animation specialists, After Skool, to talk about the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on our reproductive health and our planet. Swan, a professor of environmental medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and adjunct scientist at Environmental Health Sciences (publisher of EHN), discusses sperm count decline, population level effects, our addiction to plastic and a path forward out of this toxic mess.Swan authored the groundbreaking book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race, and recently co-authored a study that found sperm count has dropped dramatically around the world, and that the rate of decline is accelerating. Watch the new video above, and visit After Skool's Youtube page for other cool animations.
Now Playing | A man and his daughter are used to living in harmony and peace with nature, but some disruptions change their lovely little life.
Past Presentation | A short film about environmental damage; features the voice of Ewan McGregor.
Past Presentation | It’s a story about the soldiers who are sacrificing their lives and resistance in order to the people of the city and future generations to live in peace.
Past Presentation | The history of humanity and of our planet in four minutes. An eco-friendly statement developed in a single shot that has it all: humor, action and tragedy.
Now Playing | A narrative video poem that frames the destruction of the Rio Grande Valley through the Mexican ghost story of La Llorona.
Now Playing | Jenny goes out for a drink with a polar bear, and they hit it off. But can they solve the bigger problems the world faces?
Past Presentation | Inspired by Dr. Suess's The Lorax, this claymation by our new middle school students uses 667 images to show how irresponsible shoreline development can impact our precious reef ecosystem.
Now Playing | The state of water in the world is critical, but the relationship between a man and a fish that are in story is more critical.
Now Playing | A short animated film about crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a small sailboat and discovering that even where humans have not yet explored, trash usually finds a way of getting there first—even in the middle of the ocean.
Past Presentation | “Now, I think I'm the coolest of the creatures in the sea but sometimes it's confusing - even just for me! 'Cause I'm a little polyp - maybe not what you call 'hip.' They named me a 'cnidarian' - who knows, but some librarian??”
Past Presentation | A wide-eyed, newborn sea turtle named Fin finds himself on the illuminated beaches of Miami. It is a perilous time to be a hatchling, with hazards of artificial light and debris present at every turn. With the help of Abueluna, his caring, celestial guide, Fin will make the daring trek from his cluttered nest to the open seas.
Coming Soon | In the land occupied with the sprayers army, no one has the right to grow any kind of plants either in public or private. So many of the people and soldiers do not even know how a plant grows or looks like, until one day one of the soldiers finds a seed buried deep down in the dust and his curiosity is just the beginning of something extraordinary, something big, something revolutionary.
Past Presentation | The story of 56 fifth graders in Brooklyn who are living on the frontline of the climate crisis, whose actions on plastic pollution morph into extraordinary leadership and scalable victories. With stop-motion animation, heartfelt kid commentary, and interviews of experts and renowned scientists who are engaged in the most cutting edge research on the harmful effects of microplastics, this alarming, yet charming narrative conveys an urgent message – Use less plastic!
Now Playing | Humans have exploited Earth to the point where it is no longer possible to live on it. Their only option is to relocate to Mars. When the last group of people has boarded the spaceship for the red planet, the Earth can finally breathe easy. Like an expressionist painting, Reboot depicts a world in which the absence of our species is the only chance nature has to recover its lushness and flourish once more.
Now Playing | A personal dive into the world’s most impersonal substance: plastics. Amid the lockdown, a bereaved mother unfolds a surprising journey within and across oceans to understand the contemporary landscape of single-use synthetics. From the noble intentions behind its invention to scales of havoc it has wrought, this experimental documentary brings together art, history, science, and the everyday. Playfully crafted with hand-drawn illustrations and poetic interludes, this evocative “pause between deep time and no time” will change how you think about this ordinary “thing without thingness."
Now Playing | This film was made as a tribute to the wonders of our earth and the importance of protecting them. Follow a young woman, armed with her banjo and her spirit, as she enters a portal from a post-apocalyptic world into a realm of rhinoceroses, gorillas and ancient trees to recover magical seeds and make the world wild again!
Coming Soon | In the summer of 1988 dry lightning sparked a fire in the parched and drought ridden landscape of Yellowstone Park, igniting a blaze that would scorch over 1.5 million perimeter acres of the park. Song of Fire, a narrative poem, guides the animation of YELLOWSTONE 88 telling the story of this conflagration that raged unabated for months until a snow of such intense severity extinguished the flames. That winter surviving Fauna, exhausted from fire and weakened by hunger, die in greater numbers than those claimed by the fire. The cosmos turns from one season to another and another and life in the park begins anew.
Past Presentation | From Michel Gondry, the innovative director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, comes this unique animated documentary on the life of controversial MIT professor, philosopher, linguist, anti-war activist and political firebrand Noam Chomsky. Through complex, lively conversations with Chomsky and brilliant illustrations by Gondry himself, the film reveals the life and work of the father of modern linguistics while also exploring his theories on the emergence of language. The result is not only a dazzling, vital portrait of one of the foremost thinkers of modern times, but also a beautifully animated work of art.
Past Presentation | Zack is more interested in the small world of his smart phone than the larger world around him. His online request for a roommate is answered by Molly, a tech-savvy dumbo octopus on a mission to tell the world about the importance of the deep ocean. Molly wants to use Zack’s apartment for her global communications headquarters, but Zack is skeptical. To win Zack over, Molly takes him to her deep ocean home in the Gulf of Mexico to see its unique features and diverse marine life, and to help him understand how human activities threaten its health.
Past Presentation | Conversations about planetary destruction, global pandemics and the extinction of so many species, are never easy to start. The fact is, we are all complicit, simply because we have been born into a time of consumerism, avarice and blind searching. And the only way we are going to make it through this terrifying time as a species is if we work together in harmony with the planet rather than in opposition to it. The Ghastly Fowl takes a look at where we are now and where we could go from here, focusing on responsibility rather than blame. A stark, beautifully animated short story that peels away the layers of the human psyche in a countdown towards the end, which could also be the beginning.
Now Playing | A searing expose uncovering the ugly truth behind the global plastic pollution crisis. Striking footage shot over three continents illustrates the ongoing catastrophe: fields full of garbage, veritable mountains of trash; rivers and seas clogged with waste; and skies choked with poisons from plastic production and recycling processes with no end in sight. Original animations, interviews with experts and activists, and never-before-filmed scenes reveal the disastrous consequences of the plastic flood around the world – and the global movement rising up in response.
A disparate group of thinkers says we should welcome our demise.
“How much would you pay to see a woolly mammoth?” asked a recent headline in the MIT Technology Review. Colossal Biosciences, which calls itself the world’s first de-extinction company, intends to make that more than a hypothetical. At its founding last year, Colossal generated a thunderclap of publicity for its announced goal of creating mammoths in its labs and releasing them in a park in Siberia. Media coverage offered an inspiring image of the tusked giants, who weighed up to ten tons, once again trampling across the snowy earth. But there was a problem—and no, not just the technical hurdle of restoring extinct species via biotechnology. The region of Siberia Colossal had in mind, Sakha, has a thriving underground trade in mammoth tusks. Specimens preserved in ice and riverbeds can be passed off as elephant ivory: one find can generate enough income for a hunter to feed his family for a year. So George Church, a Harvard geneticist and co-founder of Colossal, told CNN that in order to avoid its creations being poached, Colossal was considering bringing them back without tusks. Mammoths without their iconic body part symbolize a crucial fact about de-extinction: Any scientific breakthrough like this will be subject to political and economic considerations as well. Indeed, Colossal’s other co-founder, entrepreneur Ben Lamm, now says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused it to pause its Siberian plan, and begin investigating locations in Alaska instead.Wherever newly revived animals might end up—and the woolly mammoth isn’t the only animal on Colossal’s agenda—it’s increasingly apparent that de-extinction projects require a legal framework. Currently it’s unclear whether the patchwork of laws in various countries on genome editing, animal use, and other topics amount to much regulation of de-extinction at all. But whether to bring back extinct species should ultimately be up to governments, not private firms such as Colossal.Interest in Colossal and de-extinction more broadly reflect our increasing ability to re-engineer other species. In 2000 the bucardo, a wild goat native to France and Spain, went extinct. Three years later a team that included scientists from Advanced Cell Technology, a U.S. firm, used cells taken from the last living bucardo to create embryos that were inserted in surrogate goat and goat-bucardo mothers. Of the seven pregnancies that ensued, one resulted in a live birth. The animal lived for several minutes, during which de-extinction was, briefly, a reality.Mammoths are estimated to have eaten 400 pounds of grass and plants a day. Creating a clone that is genetically identical to a donor animal, as happened with the bucardo, requires a living cell from the donor. That’s not possible with mammoths, so Colossal says it will use gene-editing tools to make the genome of Asian elephants, the mammoth’s closest living relative, more mammoth-like.Gene editing technology currently allows researchers to make thousands of genetic changes simultaneously, whereas 1.5 million genetic differences separate elephant from mammoths. Some critics say that because of this, Colossal, rather than bringing back the mammoth, is really working toward the birth of a mammoth-like elephant. Colossal would seem to agree. Its web site says the company’s long-term goal is “a cold-resistant elephant with all of the core biological traits of the Woolly Mammoth. It will walk like a Woolly Mammoth, look like one, sound like one.”This plan raises many concerns. Mammoths are estimated to have eaten 400 pounds of grass and plants a day. Depending on how many were introduced, their ecological impact could be significant. De-extinction proposals therefore need to take into account the interests of people and animals living near introduction sites. Giving birth to a mammoth would also likely require a surrogate mother elephant, all species of which are endangered, calling into question their use. Finally, scientists suggest that mammoths may have gone extinct because of their inability to adapt to the warmer climate that followed an ice age. Before creating animals in their image, we will want evidence that they can survive our own period of global warming.There are currently no laws designed to ensure that de-extinction is carried out in an environmentally responsible way. In some instances, endangered species regulations might apply. Species have been known to remain listed under the Endangered Species Act for decades after disappearing (often because scientists were hoping for a sighting that never came). A restoration project involving an extinct animal still listed as endangered might require federal approval. But the applicability of existing law to these cases is unclear. And since mammoths and many other species went extinct before 1967, when the list was introduced, they have never been listed.Revising the Endangered Species Act to explicitly apply to de-extinct animals would be a welcome step. An example of what that could mean in practice is provided by the black-footed ferret project, which also involved advanced bioscience. In 2020 scientists at Revive and Restore, a biotechnology firm, cloned a ferret that died in the 1980s. Their goal was to expand the limited genetic diversity of existing populations. Before the company could go ahead, it had to obtain an Endangered Species Recovery Permit. Requiring an equivalent permit for de-extinction would narrow the legal gap between creating an endangered animal and an extinct one.American legislation, however, is unlikely to be enough. In addition to Russia, Colossal also has its eye on Australia, where it says it wants to re-introduce the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, which went extinct in 1936. Any country where de-extinction occurs will need to regulate it. De-extinction ideally would also be subject to treaties such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (which the U.S., alone among countries, has not ratified) or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (to which the U.S. is a party). Amending these or other international instruments is necessary given not only the global reach of de-extinction firms, but the possibility of de-extinct animals crossing national borders.Existing laws and treaties cannot address all of the issues de-extinction raises. “Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Mammoths?” was the title of a 2018 academic article that noted that mammoths are social creatures whose welfare has received scant attention in the de-extinction debate. Creating one solitary mammoth to be confined in a zoo, for example, would be especially cruel. We should also hope that future de-extinctions avoid the invasive procedures used in the bucardo project, which saw scientists insert embryos in over 50 potential mothers in order to create those seven pregnancies. (Colossal, to its credit, says it hopes to eventually use artificial wombs. But not only are these still at the drawing board, they raise questions about how calf-mother bonding, which infant mammals depend on to develop, would occur.)And what is a genetically engineered species, anyway? How should we classify animals whose genes are edited to make them resemble a long-vanished species? Those who say the genes of an elephant, however modified, cannot result in a mammoth are using a definition of species that requires strict genetic similarity, which some biologists and philosophers reject. Elephants and mammoths share over 99 percent of their DNA, and the genetic profile of any species can change over time, through adaptation and genetic drift. If so, then Colossal’s creations could still be mammoths, their genetic distinctiveness notwithstanding. This question, too, has profound legal ramifications. De-extinction as Colossal envisions it is perhaps best understood as attempting to create animals that are visually and functionally similar to extinct models, whether or not they are the same species. But because genetic editing could be said to result in new species, de-extinction firms may someday argue that lab-grown animals are their creations, which they should be able to patent. Co-founder Lamm says that Colossal is only patenting spin-off technologies that can be applied to human healthcare. “Any technologies we develop which have an application to conservation will be given to the world for free,” he told me by email. But Colossal is not the only firm that has expressed an interest in de-extinction. Patenting de-extinct animals could not only make environmental regulations harder to enforce, it is likely to make the well-being of the animals even more of an afterthought. Making it illegal to patent a de-extinct species, while it would not address every ethical concern, would protect the animals’ interest in not becoming intellectual property.Regulating de-extinction is better than banning it: biotechnology is evolving, and the case for de-extinction could change with it. But as things stand now, the case for de-extinction is weak. While bringing back a species that recently disappeared has some appeal given how many species are being destroyed, the reality is that extinction is often due to human encroachment on animals’ habitats. Reversing that trend enough for a restored species to flourish would require taking on entrenched economic and political interests. If that were easy to do, there would be no extinction crisis to begin with.Colossal says that mammoths in Sakh, should they ever arrive, would slow the melting of local permafrost in various ways, such as by trampling the snow cover that locks in heat from the summer sun. If true, that would also slow the release of greenhouse gases from the melting ground. But critics dispute the science on which this theory rests. Even if it is sound, given the time and expense that would be required to introduce enough mammoths to make a difference, mammoth de-extinction is likely to be an inefficient response to climate change. And there are probably more effective uses for conservation resources. De-extinction advocates reply that environmental economics is not zero sum, and that companies like Colossal will generate new funding for conservation efforts. But this assumes that de-extinction will be an effective form of conservation. And it ignores the fact that some of Colossal’s funding has already come from the government, which obliges us to think hard about where it otherwise could have gone.All of this raises the worry that de-extinction may turn out to be another instance of the “environmentalism of the rich.”The company’s investors include the Central Intelligence Agency, through its non-profit venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel. (The agency’s rationale—that it is less interested in de-extinction than the bioengineer possibilities it may unlock—is, admittedly, not very reassuring.) The Fish and Wildlife service, meanwhile, is estimated to require more than double its current Congressional funding to protect species under the Endangered Species Act. Against that backdrop, it’s disappointing to see a de-extinction firm receive public funding of any kind.All of this raises the worry that de-extinction may turn out to be another instance of the “environmentalism of the rich.” In his 2018 book of that name, political scientist Peter Dauvergne noted the depressing frequency with which environmental rhetoric is used to justify activities that have negligible environmental value, and only benefit the wealthy. Prior to starting Colossal, George Church received $100,000 in funding from Peter Thiel, the billionaire supporter of libertarian and Republican causes, and Colossal’s current investors include the Winklevoss twins, best known for their Facebook litigation and Bitcoin investment, among other Silicon Valley names. Regulating de-extinction will help ensure that whatever conservation potential it may have is not undermined by the desire of rich investors to cash in on our fascination with charismatic megafauna. Maybe someday mammoths should once again rule the earth. Mammon, though, is a different story.
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