Netflix n’ nature: WashPIRG hosts screening party to promote climate activism

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NOAA Graph

Atmospheric carbon dioxide [without seasonal variations] concentration measured at Mauna Loa Volcano, Hawaii, shows a steady increase since 1957. At the same time global average temperatures have been rising as a result of heat trapped by the additional CO₂.

Photo credits: NOAA. 


A collective gasp pervades the room as a baby polar bear freezes, foot in mid-air, matching its mother’s cautious stride. She’s trying to sneak up on a seal, which slips away.

The UW branch of WashPIRG, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, student organization for environmental advocacy, organized a “Netflix Night” Nov. 15, as part of the 100% Renewable Energy campaign.

The event opened with a brief talk on climate change by Terry Swanson, lecturer and geologist followed by a screening of “Our Planet,” a Netflix original series showcasing the effects of climate change on various life forms. 

Swanson explained how the severity of ice melt in the Arctic can be seen by the opening up of the Northwest Passage, which connects the Arctic and Pacific oceans. 

The opening up of this route greatly simplifies trade but means less land for species like the polar bear that depend on land for food and rest.

“The arctic warms up twice as much as other regions due to a phenomenon known as polar amplification,” Swanson said.

Polar amplification refers to the greater effects of climate change seen by scientists near the Earth’s poles, partially due to the fact that as ice thaws, greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.

About 18% of US citizens deny that humans cause climate change. The relation between CO₂ levels and temperatures is either overlooked or snubbed as “propaganda.”

“I wish citizens could understand that the rising carbon dioxide levels [are] science,” Swanson said at the Netflix event. “It’s not debatable. If I were to remove 50% of the oxygen from this room, you’re obviously going to have trouble breathing. I can’t just blame you and say ‘you haven’t been running enough.’”

WashPIRG is running five campaigns this quarter which includes the “100% campaign.” Their other campaigns include Hunger and Homelessness, Save the Bees, The New Voters Project, and Plastic Free Washington. WashPIRG organizes movie screenings, petition collecting events, and canvassing events. The members also attend information panels and work with local politicians with the ultimate goal of creating opportunities for students to get involved and make a difference.

“We need WashPIRG now more than ever because with the way things are right now, we seem to be at the precipice of major change,” Sydney Porter, a member of WashPIRG said. “WashPIRG amplifies student’s voices and allows students to have a say in our futures.”

Reach reporter Akanksha Mishra at Twitter: @Akanksha_2200

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