Coming to PBS tomorrow, Wednesday, April 10:
OZONE HOLE: HOW WE SAVED THE PLANET
A look back at how the world came together to address a potential global catastrophe.
At a time when the US has a climate change denialist in the most powerful office in the land, and when international efforts to reduce carbon emissions regularly fall short, unlikely hope for the world’s future comes from revisiting a past case of environmental peril in this doc. Jamie Lochhead’s doc takes viewers back to the 1980s, when critical mass about the impact of chlorofluorocarbons on Earth’s ozone layer led to the world’s first global treaty to address pollution, the Montreal Protocol. Employing flashy and playful graphics, archival, and score to punch up this otherwise rote PBS special, Lochhead quickly recounts how chemist Thomas Midgley Jr developed CFCs, which soon became commonplace in everyday products, their impact on the atmosphere not recognized for decades, and, even then, subject to dismissal by the powerful chemical industry. The doc recounts the steps taken to alert the public to the potentially life-threatening effects – including using the popularity of ALL IN THE FAMILY to spread the word – and to convince President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (herself a trained chemist) to take steps to ban the offending CFCs. While certain segments of the audience might bristle at the valorization of these two rightwing political figures, their present-day conservative admirers watching now might learn a lesson or two about the similar need to listen to real scientists and act on climate change today.