Climate Neros: Films chained, unchained…


“Twenty centuries ago, Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Today, some media companies are squabbling over copyrights while the planet is warming.”

These words, which I first uttered during an Asian workshop on moving images and changing climate in Tokyo in early October 2008, have resonated with many journalists, producers and activists concerned about climate change.

The latest outlet to carry my views is Down to Earth, the fortnightly magazine on science and environment published from New Delhi, India. They have included a condensed version of my remarks in their issue for 15 December 2008, under the heading: Films chained, unchained

It’s part of a special issue to mark the 14th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the fourth meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, being held in the Polish city of Poznan from 1 to 12 December 2008.

In fact, Down to Earth editor Pradip Saha was part of our Tokyo workshop which called for climate change to be recognised as a copyright free zone.

When Down to Earth editors first mooted the idea of carrying my views, they suggested a catchy headline: Climate’s Niros. I rather liked that…but that didn’t survive their copyediting. Ah, well…

Last chance for Kyoto Protocol? Courtesy Down to Earth
Last chance for Kyoto Protocol?
In its preamble to the special climate change issue, Down to Earth editors say:
“Eleven years after the Kyoto Protocol was signed — only to be consigned to irrelevance over the subsequent decade — nations are meeting in Poland to negotiate post-2012 action.

“The realities of climate change are clearer than ever, and the cost of action is mounting. Rich countries, historically responsible for climate change, are proposing new mechanisms to share the burden. Leading developing countries such as India and China need to negotiate hard as well and make a big push for renewables…” Read full story

On 5 November 2008, SciDev.Net published my op ed essay:
Planet before profit for climate films

On 7 November 2008, Asia Media Forum published a longer version of this essay:
Climate Change or (c)limate (c)hange: Guarding copyrights on a warming planet

These have been linked to, or commented upon, by various blogs and websites. Interestingly, the big time TV/video production companies and broadcasters have been keeping quiet in this debate.

Perhaps they are too busy counting their money accruing from license fees?

Author: Nalaka Gunawardene

A science writer by training, I've worked as a journalist and communication specialist across Asia for 30+ years. During this time, I have variously been a news reporter, feature writer, radio presenter, TV quizmaster, documentary film producer, foreign correspondent and journalist trainer. I continue to juggle some of these roles, while also blogging and tweeting and column writing.

2 thoughts on “Climate Neros: Films chained, unchained…”

  1. “Talk never cooked rice” , old Chinese proverb.

    Action certainly speaks louder than words and time waits for no man; or woman; or child; or animal or even for planet Earth.

    Let’s hope that the fourth meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol will “Junk the Jargon” and instead communicate an effective awareness message regarding all the attributes of Climate Change, to the ordinary people of this world.

    We need not be scared of Climate Change, but we do need
    to understand how it affects us, and how we affect it. Then, we can adapt positively to Climate Change and act to reduce its negative effects. Time is of the essence.

    Public Awareness Material alone can not attract the busy eyes of the ordinary citizen. However, Al Gores documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ certainly made waves, although it was at times a power-point yawn!. Similarly, I believe that the cartoon character Ozzy Ozone, if set free into the popular commercial world of cinema, could reach a Global audience and make an astonishing impact for the Climate Change Campaign. Ozzy Ozone is entertaining and the world he lives in captures the imagination of young and old alike.

    We need this Climate Change Ambassador , Ozzy Ozone, out there now, to help bring awareness messages of this issue to popular society, everyday mortals, globally. Inform through easily understood family entertainment.

    Of course, it would help greatly to have the creative input of, the true original creator of Ozzy Ozone. However, the UNEP seem to not want us to have the answer to this essential and elementary piece of information. This is an issue even more difficult than solving Climate Change, it seems!


  2. Can somebody please put this guy Thomas out of his misery by telling all of us who created Ozzy Ozone? Surely, somebpdy must know the answer and there cant be too many secrets in this digital age.

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