Climate change animation – it’s much, much later than you think

Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo.

My brother, Leo Murray, is an animator as well as an activist. He made this film for his animation master’s degree at the Royal College of Arts, and I was very impressed indeed with the job he did of communicating the science, visually and verbally – beautiful use of animation to convey scientific concepts, and an interesting blackboard-inspired style. The full script includes extensive journal references to back up what he’s saying.

I maintain the web page for the film, though I didn’t do most of the design. I have also helped to coordinate the translations, which now exist for most of the major European languages, with several Asian versions on their way too. It’s been great to see it get watched online by well over 100,000 people, but this is still not nearly enough – the message is very important indeed, and this film conveys it remarkably well, packing a whole lot of information into a very short time in a very watchable style. At this point it would be particularly valuable if people could spread the word more outside of the English-speaking world.

What this is about is that climate change is probably a much bigger threat than anybody realised even a few years ago. We’ve been hearing more and more about it in the news, but I think it’s still not so clear to most people why – I suspect the increased coverage is often written off as media hype, rather than a reflection of the fact we really ought to be much more worried than we thought we needed to be.

The IPCC’s last report erred very much on the conservative side, as is the nature of reports which must be agreed to by all parties. Newer evidence had trouble getting fitted in, so it did not really even try to assess the importance of positive feedback loops in all of this, which has only recently started to become clear. Essentially, there is good reason to think that some of the changes caused by warming will feed back into themselves to cause more warming, potentially leading to runaway climate change in a frighteningly short time – we’re talking several degrees of warming over just a few decades here, and possibly less than ten years to effect the changes needed to prevent this from happening.

There is of course some uncertainty in all of this, and it may yet turn out that the situation is not nearly as bad as it looks… and that’s really just as well, because if it is as bad as it looks, I don’t much fancy humankind’s chances of doing what we need to before it’s too late. It’s not too late yet though…

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