By Rosie Spinks
Campus News Reporter

The theme of last Tuesday’s screening of environmental documentary “The 11th Hour” wasn’t about saving the earth. According to the film, the earth will save itself —it’s the human species that needs to worry.

Tree Media, the film’s production company, recently launched a campaign to show the film at 23 campuses nationwide to raise awareness and spark discussion about the environmental crisis.

Blake Lown, a representative from Tree Media, spoke of the common response she had seen on the tour so far.

“There have been many different crowds and different demographics,” Lown said. “But all questions have leaned toward ‘What can we do?’”

The film covered a variety of topics, including global warming, the human attitude of superiority over nature, consumer culture, and the need for localization. The film also described some new technologies and sustainable developments, such as carbon-neutral skyscrapers and nightclubs powered by human motion.

Directed by Leila Conners-Petersen and Nadia Conners and featuring actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, the film features interviews with over 50 experts including former Soviet Head of State Mikhail Gorbachev, physicist Stephen Hawking and prominent author and sustainable architect William McDonough.

Max Harrison and Gretchen Engbring, both UC Santa Cruz first-years and former interns for the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), brought the tour to campus.

“I feel like, here at Santa Cruz, everyone has the inner desire to help the environment,” Harrison said. “I figured this would be a good eye-opener and spark for more activism.”

First-year Erica Prentice was both inspired and impressed by the film.

“I had never heard of some of the green projects presented in the film,” Prentice said. “And I think they are significant steps towards solving these problems.”

The film has been criticized as an attempt by DiCaprio to jump on the environmental bandwagon.

“That is definitely not the case,” Lown said. “He has been an environmentalist for over a decade, and he approached Tree Media wanting to produce this film.”

The film has also been compared to Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” But Lown, as well as some of the panelists at a discussion after the showing, resisted lumping the two films into the same category.

“This film is different from ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ in that you don’t just walk away with all the earth’s problems,” Lown said. “It provides pathways for change.”

Both the film and those who participated in the panel discussion that followed the film emphasized solutions. Despite this, Engbring says she still sees indifference in some of her peers.

“The worst problem we have is apathy,” Engbring said. “We choose ignorance sometimes, but once you get people motivated, you can do so much.”

Harrison shows no such apathy.

“The outward world is a mirror of our inner thoughts,” he said. “If I believe that big movements will make a difference, then they will.”

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