Years of Living Dangerously

A new video journal series examining climate change is currently streaming free on YouTube, a week leading up to its April 13 premier on Showtime.  Years of Living Dangerously features prominent celebrities dissecting the causes of climate change, our perception of it and the tangible ramifications that are playing out today.

The first episode features Harrison Ford documenting deforestation through slash and burn technique in Indonesia after learning at NASA that deforestation is responsible for 20% of greenhouse gasses.  He finds the Indonesian government is more responsible for corrupting than culling the issue.

Don Cheadle visits Plainview, Texas where a shuttered meatpacking plant has put 2,600 residents out of work following an unprecedented drought.  Cheadle finds most residents believe God is responsible for the  drought and turns to an Evangelical climate scientist, Katharine Hayhoe, to bridge the gap between religion and science.  A rather chilling scene features a Texan admitting that hearing information on climate change from a conservative evangelical Texan like Hayhoe makes all the difference.  

Finally, Thomas Friedman travels to Syria, revealing how the deadliest active conflict in the world ultimately began with a drought, displacing rural farmers to cities which could not support them, causing societal stresses the government had no interest in aiding.   "This is a revolution of hungry people," one Syrian says.

The series is a remarkable look at how addressing climate change isn't just a narrow issue, important only to environmentalists or sentimentalists wishing to see the world and its species remain intact as we remember it.  It's not just for democrats. "A thermometer is not Republican or Democrat one man tells Cheadle."  It's not someone else's problem. Supporting energy reform isn't a threat to job creation or freedom, but instead the opposite.  This series implores all people to take this matter seriously today.  Most importantly, it speaks to everyone, using characters that people listen to.  It's pretty funny to see Harrison Ford get out of a float plane in a jungle in Borneo.  If people won't listen to scientists, maybe they'll listen to Indiana Jones.

I've got to hand it to Showtime for running with such a sobering and informative series.  It seems with shows like Years of Living Dangerously and HBO's Vice, premium cable, which doesn't seek revenue from advertisers with their own interests, is a platform which can support accurate, progressive programming.