Watch Episode 1 of Years of Living Dangerously, The New Showtime Series on Climate Change

Ever since Al Gore’s An Incon­ve­nient Truth came out to crit­i­cal acco­lades, Con­ser­v­a­tive scorn and a hand­ful of Oscars, there has been no short­age of well mean­ing doc­u­men­taries about the per­ils of cli­mate change. Most fea­ture a Hol­ly­wood celebri­ty or two, a lib­er­al amount of lib­er­al guilt, and a dis­tinct sense of preach­ing to the con­vert­ed.

The new Show­time series Years of Liv­ing Dan­ger­ous­ly might have plen­ty of those first two ele­ments but none of the third. In the first episode of the series –which has been released for free on YouTube (above) – Don Chea­dle asks, “Is there a way to dis­cuss cli­mate change with­out pol­i­tics or reli­gion get­ting in the way?” Pro­duc­ers James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger and Jer­ry Wein­traub try valiant­ly to answer that ques­tion in the affir­ma­tive.

The series fea­tures a vari­ety of celebri­ties — Schwarzeneg­ger, Matt Damon, Jes­si­ca Alba – and celebri­ty reporters – Les­ley Stahl, Chris Hayes, Mark Bittman – who inves­ti­gate dif­fer­ent facets of the top­ic.

In Cheadle’s seg­ment, he tracks down an unusu­al fig­ure in the heat­ed, tire­some cli­mate change debate – an Evan­gel­i­cal cli­mate sci­en­tist. In a fas­ci­nat­ing scene, she talks to the devout denizens of Plain­view TX, try­ing to con­vince them that the drought that caused the clos­ing of the local meat­pack­ing plant – the town’s biggest employ­er – was the result of some­thing oth­er than divine will.

Mean­while, New York Times colum­nist Thomas Fried­man traces the ori­gins of the Syr­i­an civ­il war to – you guessed it – cli­mate change. He cross­es into that war torn coun­try (briefly) to dis­cov­er that the seeds of the con­flict were sown by the government’s indif­fer­ent response to a long-run­ning drought.

But the most enter­tain­ing seg­ment is Har­ri­son Ford explor­ing the caus­es of Indonesia’s rapid defor­esta­tion. Appar­ent­ly, palm oil – that anony­mous ingre­di­ent in every­thing from cook­ies to choco­late bars – is such big busi­ness that it’s turn­ing Bor­neo into a burn-scared moon­scape. Who knew?

Ford’s charis­ma and grav­el­ly bari­tone can turn the most inane line — “That’s a lot of cars” – into some­thing with almost Tal­mu­dic pro­fun­di­ty. It makes for some riv­et­ing view­ing. The show ends with Ford chomp­ing at the bit to inter­view Indonesia’s utter­ly cor­rupt Forestry Min­is­ter. That meet­ing, which occurs in a lat­er episode, promis­es to be a 60 Min­utes-style smack­down. You think Mike Wal­lace was daunt­ing? Try Indi­ana Jones.

Years of Liv­ing Dan­ger­ous­ly pre­mieres on Show­time on April 13.

For a more aca­d­e­m­ic intro­duc­tion to this sub­ject, see Glob­al Warm­ing: A Free Course from UChica­go.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free: Watch the First Episode of Sil­i­con Val­ley, Mike Judge’s New HBO Series

How Cli­mate Change Is Threat­en­ing Your Dai­ly Cup of Cof­fee

A Song of Our Warm­ing Plan­et: Cel­list Turns 130 Years of Cli­mate Change Data into Music

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.