Natural Perspectives: Three green films at Newport Beach Film Festival

May 01, 2012|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
(Courtesy Fiona…)

Vic and I attended the Newport Beach Film Festival this past weekend.

Naturally, Vic and I focused on environmental documentaries. We saw three films, "A Fierce Green Fire,""Last Call at the Oasis,"and"Bitter Seeds."

"A Fierce Green Fire" is based on the book of the same name. The film explored the history of environmentalism from John Muir's failed attempt to save the Hetch Hetchy valley north of Yosemite from being dammed, up to today's battle to slow global warming.

Early environmental efforts focused on saving habitat and wildlife. From formation of the Audubon Society to protect egrets from being killed for their plumes to the battle to save the Grand Canyon from being dammed , early battles were for the land and the creatures that lived there.

Starting in the 1960s, environmental battles were more often about pollution. When the Cayuhoga River caught fire in 1969, the nation was shocked. People hadn't realized the extent of the pollution problem.


During the 1960s and 1970s and into the 1980s, one battle after another was fought to reduce harmful chemicals in the environment. Since then, industries have been forced to clean up their act and quit using the air that we all breathe and the water that we all drink as dumping grounds for their waste. If you enjoy clean air, clean water, and safe food, thank an environmentalist. Those battles were hard fought, and hard won.

I was struck by the massive demonstrations in other countries against carbon dioxide emissions that were shown in the Green Fire film. People in other countries seem to be concerned about the contribution of greenhouse gases to global warming. The massive demonstrations that occur elsewhere contrast sharply with the apathy and denial that seem to pervade this country.

Global climate change is probably the biggest threat to the survival of humanity that we have faced in 12,000 years or longer. Global warming is already affecting weather patterns, and resulting in more severe storms, floods, and increased drought in other areas. Soon, climate change will affect the ability of farmers to grow food.


"Last Call at the Oasis" covered another currently hot topic, the global water crisis. Divided into two parts, the film dealt with both water supply and water pollution. Both are crucial issues.

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