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The Impact of Climate Change: The Movie

Jakarta Post
Warief Djajanto Basori

You may have seen Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, the Oscar-winning film on climate change. But have you watched Lakukan Sekarang Juga (Do It Now)?

This is a 21-minute documentary about climate change in Indonesia. The National Council on Climate Change (DNPI) released it in October 2009 to enhance public awareness of the issue.

Basically, it covers three matters: what climate change is about, what its impact is on nature and people and what the government and individuals can do.

The documentary starts in a feel-good manner with close-ups of cooing birds, butterflies fluttering over a bunch of flowers, a tiger wallowing in water, geese tramping together and young orangutans swinging from tree to tree.

A female voiceover asks: “Are you aware that our ability to enjoy these scenes is diminishing? These are the scenes that we will witness more often on a daily basis.” The camera then records scenes of a cracked and arid landscape, flooding in an urban settlement and a cyclone on a rampage.

Pak Subur, a caricature shirtless farmer wearing a conical straw hat, is shown lamenting over the hard rainfall that has inundated his rice field — not once but three times in a year.

He asks why this has happened. The narrator then explains that it has to do with global warming, which stems from greenhouse gas emissions that have raised the temperature of the earth’s surface and in turn caused weather and climate changes.

Climate change usually occurs due to changes in rainfall patterns, which in turn cause a shift in the seasons, according to the narrator. Dry seasons could be longer and more arid; wet seasons shorter and punctuated by intense rainfall that could bring flooding and erosion. The opposite, however, is also possible. Heavy rains could continue into the dry season, such as has happened throughout Indonesia this year, save for Bali and islands east of it.

The documentary continues with three fishermen in Java. The trio voice concerns over the shortened west monsoon winds, the greater distance their boats must travel and more fuel they must expend to catch fish and the high waves and intemperate seas they must brave to return with ever-diminishing catches.

To counter climate change, the film proposes a dual-track approach of adaptation and mitigation.

Adaptation is adjusting so as  to decrease the impact of climate change. Mitigation is action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

The film also explains Indonesia’s efforts on the international stage. One such attempt was its introduction of the Bali Road Map at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, December 2007.

The Bali Road Map listed the steps governments should take to replace the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before it expires in 2012.

With an emphasis on mitigation, the documentary ends with a description of a range of actions individuals could take to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. These include efficient use of household appliances, recycling non-organic and organic waste, and using bikes to commute to work.

The DNPI has done a laudable job in producing the documentary. The film has pertinent and instructive information on climate change in Indonesia, but it focuses heavily on Java and has a masculine bias.  

The film’s three fishermen, two farmers and two bike-to-work advocates are all based in Java. Six of these seven interviewees were men. Women should have a say. Children, too, should have their voices heard as they own the nation’s future.  

A major climate change issue is greenhouse gas emissions caused by forest destruction. The film gave little detail on illegal logging and land use change, from peatlands to palm oil plantations, for instance. These are two major deforestation and degradation problems outside Java that factor in significantly in determining the size of Indonesia’s carbon footprint.

Indonesia’s program to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) received only passing mention. Yet the government is fleshing out a REDD+ initiative with additional objectives as part of a detailed national action plan on climate change it is preparing.  

Perhaps a second edition of Do It Now! (with an exclamation mark) could focus on deforestation in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua,  with their vast tropical rainforests, and how the REDD program could save them.

It could record their concerns and aspirations of women and children in forest communities.  

Such a film could help the public understand President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s declared ambition to curb Indonesia’s carbon emissions by 26 percent a by 2020. It could also illustrate how the REDD+ program could achieve that target.  

Indonesia’s annual carbon emissions were 2.1 gigatons (2.1 billion tons) in 2005 and were estimated to reach to 3.2 gigatons in 2030. Indonesia has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.3 gigatons so that emissions in 2030 would be 67 percent lower than emissions in 2005, according to an August 2010 DNPI report, Indonesia’s Greenhouse Gas Abatement Cost Curve. This would be one big story for a film to tell.

Illegal logging and land use change factor in significantly in determining the size of Indonesia’s carbon footprint.

The writer teaches journalism and has conducted workshops on development reporting at Dr. Soetomo Press Institute in Jakarta.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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