Tag Archives: documentary

Oscar Prediction for “Chasing Coral”

Now that we know this year’s winner of the best documentary film, O.J.: Made in America, here’s a prediction about next year’s winner. It will be Chasing Coral.

The new film follows scientists and photographers who are attempting to show the world what’s happening underwater. It’s exceptionally timely and provocative, because coral reefs are experiencing the worst bleaching and death-spiral ever witnessed.

Already a crowd pleaser at its premiere at Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival, this film follows in the footstep’s of the Oscar-nominated film, Chasing Ice, about climate change’s stunning visuals in frigid Greenland. The director Jeff Orlowski has now turned his attention to the biggest tropical, biological victim of a warming planet: shallow reefs built by coral animals.

The film has been purchased by Netflix, and I can’t wait to see it. It features a special camera, used by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey, to show reefs in 360 degree technicolor. These images allow us to see reefs across the planet like never before.

Critic site RogerEbert.com calls it a “landmark film,” and I’m betting that it’s pure Oscar gold.



Surfers (and Discovery Channel) cause shark attacks

Let’s get real — unlike the Discovery Channel, which just aired a FAKE documentary about a giant, attacking shark (see the fraud skewered by the Daily Show in “Sharks, Lies, and Videotape“). Sharks would starve to death if they depended on eating humans.

The angel shark's shape shows that rays and sharks are related.

The angel shark’s shape shows that rays and sharks are related. Called Elasmobranchs, they are fish, not monsters.

The humans most responsible for the increase of reported shark attacks are scientists and surfers — scientists, because they love to count things that were never counted before, and surfers, because they love to swim in torrid waves where sharks are hunting for fish. Put in more diplomatic terms, the authoritative International Shark Attack files states: “The numerical growth in shark interactions does not necessarily mean that there is an increase in the rate of shark attacks; rather, it most likely reflects the ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the opportunities for interaction between the two affected parties.”

Party of surfers, perhaps? It continues in its most recent annual report: Surfers and others participating in board sports (60% of cases: 48 incidents) were most often involved in these incidents in 2012. Less affected recreational user groups included swimmers/waders (22%) and divers (8%). Surfers have been the most-affected user group in recent years, the probable result of the large amount of time spent by these folks engaged in provocative activity (kicking of feet, splashing of hands, and “wipeouts”) in areas frequented by sharks, the surf zone.”

Across the entire world in 2012, during the billions upon billions of times that people entered the water at the beach, a total of 18 swimmers were bitten. More people were bitten by dogs right now while you are reading this sentence! (And dogs and snakes kill vastly higher numbers, but where is Angry Dog Week? Snake Week?). Of the total 80 attacks worldwide last year, 7 people died. Seven. More people than that died this instant trying to cross the street.

If I were a shark, I would try to kill many, many more people as a Public Service Announcement to GET OUT OF MY BACKYARD.

The fact is that drowning is a huge risk and shark attacks are not. Locals in Miami do not believe me when I tell them that no person has ever been killed by a shark here. Think about it: Miami does not have large waves, therefore it doesn’t have many surfers. It certainly has sharks — any part of the ocean does — it just doesn’t have as many people doing “wipeouts” in a shark’s dining room.

Our friends at the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville don’t want to offend surfers, so they call them “Surface Recreationists.” But let’s get real. If you want to surf, you accept the risk that you are playing in a wild, dangerous environment, where many animals are just trying to survive. If they bite you instead of a fish, it’s your fault.

But if you prefer fear over facts, watch the Discovery Channel.

P.S. To reduce your chances of a shark encounter, wear a dark or drab bathing suit. Or swim nude.

Apple calls 5-year-old “vintage”

Little Ms. iMac went to an official Apple beehive Saturday and asked to buy some honey to cure her sore throat. Instead of some medicine, however, she was told that she was too over-the-hill to deserve a cure, and she was advised to commit suicide. At age 5.

By February 2012, Apple will no longer produce replacement parts for iMacs from 2006, according to the Apple employee who helped me. My machine is perfectly fine except for a stripe running down the monitor’s center, and two quotes to repair it averaged $600. Although it could be fixed at this high price, the store employee warned that any future kinks would put the machine into a permanent coma with no technology available to treat it. In other words, don’t waste your time to fix it—buy a new one. And a new iPhone. And a new iPod, iTouch, and iGotU. (on a related note, Check out the clever video iMatter).

When I asked if the store would recycle the young machine, he said “no.” To recycle through Apple, he said that I would need to take several steps and pay for it myself.

Apple has been getting a lot of bad press this month because of exposés of the deplorable working conditions at its affiliated factories in China. One compelling image is the netting installed at Chinese factory dorms to catch the suicidal jumpers.

But another dirty secret of shiny Apple is called “planned obsolescence.” Its products are designed to fail and become “vintage” after a few years, thereby creating tons of e-waste along with the company’s record-breaking profits. On Sunday I watched a great film about this phenomena called The Light Bulb Conspiracy.  Try to see it. It shows how the marketplace encourages a “disposable” society.

But what to do about my sick iMac? By the way, I also have another, older turquoise-shell iMac in the closet. It seems that even schools (and relatives) don’t want them. But I refuse to dump it into the trash, knowing that it will be shipped overseas to pollute the third world. Maybe I’ll just keep them in the closet indefinitely.

Locally, a new one-stop shop for recycling has opened up at Ecomb in South Beach. I joined their board in December, so I take no credit for this accomplishment. For full disclosure, I have owned many Apple products and have preferred their computers to PCs for a long time. But with an awareness of mounting e-waste, I can’t simply replace, replace, replace. I will reduce the purchase of disposable and non-biodegradable products. I will reuse my aging electronics or simply let them go. And I will buy products that can be recycled.

Apple should start by setting up recycling centers in every Apple store. Considering that their last quarter posted $46.3 billion in sales, I think they can afford it.

Cousteau family keeps the faith

“Instead of becoming hopeless, create hope.”


The film shares its title with an earlier book.

Those thoughtful words were spoken Friday night by Fabien Cousteau. He and his sister, Celine, were in Miami as their father, Jean-Michel, hosted the world premier of his new documentary, My Father, the Captain: My Life with Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Check out my review of the film.

Seeing this family was a highlight of the conference I attended for environmental journalists, as Jacques Cousteau was and remains my number one hero. The college freshmen I teach at FIU have no clue who he was, so I have to explain why he was so inspirational and how he became the world’s most recognized figure of the 20th century.

Granddaughter Celine, who is six months pregnant with the fourth generation, talked to me about how one person can change the world. People across the world tell her how her grandfather inspired them. “One person can have a domino effect. You don’t know how far that ripple effect goes.”

Fabien pointed out his grandfather’s support network. “Jacques Cousteau opened the door to concern about the environment. But he couldn’t do it alone. It was a communal effort, and he was the face of it.”

When I asked him what he says when speaking to schoolchildren, his words become sharp. “I say we need a revolution. We need all of you, an army of young people to change what we’ve done.”

Thanks, Fabien, and the four other Cousteau’s who shared their spirit of determination with journalists who could use a boost or two.

That spirit will be needed to save Planet Ocean, and especially our coral reefs—an early victim of


How could he refuse?

global warming. They could be gone within 100 years, as discussed in my article here.

With the bad news about the environment getting consistently worse, it would be easy to give up. But Jean-Michel Cousteau says he finds the reason to continue when looking into the eyes of a child, because that child will inherit the consequences of our actions. He can’t bear to disappoint today’s children and future generations, because they are looking to us, with innocent eyes, and they deserve a fighting chance.