Anthropocene film opens Rio+20 Summit, reminds who’s culpable…

A scene from The Anthropocene film

In March, I wrote about the high impactful short film called Welcome to the Anthropocene that launched the Planet Under Pressure conference, London 26-29 March 2012.

It is a three-minute blast through the last few centuries of Earth’s history, starting in 1750 and finishing at the Rio+20 Summit. It graphically depicts how one species has transformed Earth and shows why many scientists now say we have entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene.

Produced by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and partners, it opened the United Nations Rio+20 summit today in Rio de Janeiro.

Welcome to the Anthropocene from WelcomeAnthropocene on Vimeo.

This information is found in a media notice released by IGBP today:

The data visualization, which is already an online viral hit with over 700,000 views, demonstrates that while we have had a dramatic impact on Earth for many thousands of years, it has only been since the 1950s we have grown into a colossal global force.

“The Anthropocene changes our relationship with the planet. We have a new responsibility and we need to determine how to meet that responsibility,” says co-director of the film, Owen Gaffney, director of communications at the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), based in Stockholm.

“The Rio+20 summit is the largest UN event ever held and the first major international gathering on global sustainability since the concept of the Anthropocene was first popularised,” added Mr Gaffney.

The film opens at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. As the camera swoops over Earth, viewers watch the planetary impact of humanity: cities, roads, railways, pipelines, cables and shipping lanes until finally the world’s planes spin a fine web around the planet. The film is produced as part of the world’s first educational portal on the Anthropocene.

The film was co-directed by Canadian data visualization expert and anthropologist Felix Pharand-Deschenes from the education organization GLOBAIA.

Pharand-Deschenes said: “Data visualization is a powerful tool to help us view the world and our place in it and to help foster the global awareness needed to support global sustainability and governance. Science can make use of these tools to help bring research to more people.”

The film was commissioned for a major international science conference, Planet Under Pressure, held in March 2012. The conference was designed to provide scientific leadership in support of the Rio+20 summit.

Conference co-chair Dr Mark Stafford Smith from CSIRO in Australia, said: “The film picks up the main theme of the Planet Under Pressure conference: the risks we face are global, urgent and interconnected. Our search for solutions must take this into account.”

The film was produced by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and Globaia. It is part of the website, which is co-sponsored by IGBP; Globaia, CSIRO, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm Environment Institute, International Human Dimensions Programme.