By Jayne Yerrick
The third week of the Athena Cinema’s Sustainability Series was an evening of shorts, featuring multiple films. One of these short films was “Generation Green New Deal,” a documentary about the hopeful young environmental activists pushing for legislation that will combat climate change before it is too late.
Climate change is a serious issue that has the potential to completely change the world as we know it. According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, humans have as little as 10 years left to stop burning as much carbon and save the environment.
Today’s youth is fighting to make mankind’s future look a little less bleak. The Sunrise Movement is a group of young environmental activists that want to stop climate change, while also creating jobs. “Generation Green New Deal” follows this group as they protest and push for political action against climate change.
The film opens in Paradise, California, a town that was devastated by a wildfire in 2018. Mikala Butson is a resident in Paradise whose home was greatly damaged by the fire, but she says that she is one of the lucky ones.
Even six months after the fire, people with destroyed homes were still living in tents. People were desperate for even a trailer to live in, but Butson says that these have been in low supply, doing little to help the town that was displaced by the fire.
“Paradise is a poor community,” Butson said. “People didn’t have money to begin with, and this just devastated them.”
Devastating fires are a direct result of climate change. The Sunrise Movement seeks to prevent this type of situation with a Green New Deal. This congressional resolution plans to fight climate change by dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also creating new jobs to combat economic inequality.
One of the group’s first missions was to gain Democratic support. So far, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders have been some of the most vocal politicians advocating for a Green New Deal.
But not all Democrats are willing to back a Green New Deal. When young climate activists visited Sen. Dianne Feinstein, some of them half her height and less than a quarter of her age, to ask her to vote for a Green New Deal, she was not receptive.
“You know what’s interesting about this group?” said Sen. Feinstein. “It’s that I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’m doing. You come in here and you say, ‘it’s my way or the highway.’ I don’t respond to that.”
Like many other Democratic leaders, Sen. Feinstein says that she is not supportive of a Green New Deal because of the cost. However, Sam Eilertsen, the director of “Generation Green New Deal,” responded by asking: “How can we afford not to do this?”
David Wallace-Wells, a New York Magazine writer featured in the film, explained that the climate system affects everything on earth, from the wind to the sea levels.
“Every aspect of life as we know it is defined by the natural world and the climate,” he said. “When that climate changes, those basic building blocks of modern life will be shaken quite dramatically.”
Climate change has the potential to seriously harm all aspects of life on earth. The timeframe to prevent some of the worst effects of climate change is quickly closing.
The Sunrise Movement will continue to advocate for a Green New Deal, as they see it as one of the only viable solutions to ensure a brighter future for generations to come.
As one Sunrise Movement member said, “The very future of human civilization as we know it is on the line. What wouldn’t you do to protect that?”