“Chasing Coral” director speaks to impacts climate change has had on coral reefs

IMG_1725.JPGBy Brian Abate

Director of a Netflix Original documentary, “Chasing Coral,” and other oceanic experts discussed the effects that rising temperatures have on coral reefs to about 60 people, Nov. 15 in Hoff Theater.

Panelists included Jeff Orlowski, the film’s director; Tom Ackerman, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Washington; and Mark Eakin, coordinator of NOAA’s (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Coral Reef Conservation.

The film used cameras to show how coral reefs have changed over time over the last three years.

“We didn’t just want stats,” said Orlowski. “We wanted to show people visual proof of climate change.”

Shaun Howe, a graduate student in atmospheric and oceanic science, said these visuals contributed greatly to the documentary’s message.

“I think that it’s a lot more effective to have a visuals, than listening to someone telling you something,” Howe said. “It makes a much bigger impact actually watching the coral reefs change.”

Eakin said the problem “used to be more localized,” stemming from things like overfishing.

“The damage was even worse than I had expected it to be,” Eakin said. “Now, the issue is the temperatures of the water [is] too high for the corals to survive in.”

Orlowski said he made the film dramatic to get people to realize the seriousness of the effects of climate change, and how damaging the situation can be for some people.

“The emotional side really makes people want to go out there and make a difference after they watch,” said Orlowski. “I hope that’s what happens.”

The film proposed many mitigation strategies, but many attendees were curious as to what type of longterm solutions were possible.

Julie Gabrielli, a lecturer in the School of Architecture, asked the panelists how the average person can help with the coral reef problem.

“In order to get a longterm solution, rather than a bandaid solution, I think there would have to be some sort of a waste tax to prevent businesses from making money off of pollution,” Orlowski said.

Students expressed their interest for getting involved as well.

“To accomplish anything significant, we have to work together as a community,” Orlowski said. “Each of you can use your own unique interests and talents, whether that’s business, advertising, writing or anything else.”


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