For several days last week, Indiana woke to the kind of haze we don’t usually see until the sweat-thick humidity of July in spite of mild temps, the poor air quality from smoke particles drifting south from Quebec made lungs work harder than usual to get oxygen. The sensation can feel like an asthma attack, or mimic an anxiety attack, or manifest as cold symptoms. On the East Coast, the sky looked like Tattooine, clay red haze more familiar to Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington. For Easterners who were advised to stay indoors, run air purifiers and put on an N-95 respirator or KN-94 mask, the event was novel, but it’s as routine as hurricane season in the south and tornado season in the corridor from Arkansas up the Midwest and Ohio Valley.
If it seems like the weather has become soap-operatic and full of impossible plot twists, it’s because we’re seeing scientific models based on data gathered for decades are manifesting. Reuters reported in late May that Kansas farmers are abandoning wheat crops and spraying them with chemicals. In 2021, western ranchers had to kill their cows, and again in 2022, plains ranchers also had to abandon cattle due to a drought that covered nearly 60% of the Western states. 90% of peaches in Georgia were lost to a warm snap that was followed by freezing weather, destroying the crop. Add those to hotter, longer wildfire seasons and more hurricanes on average, along with the change in central Indiana’s growing zones, and evidence has mounted that we are reckoning with climate change.
These are the days of our lives. What are we to do? For many, the answer is finding a guiding light in discussion and learning. The League of Women Voters invites you to the summer Green Issues film discussion series to learn more about our weather and climate. Upcoming are the films and dates for viewings and discussions that will take place at 7 p.m. in Korb Classroom at Wabash College.
• June 21: Reflection: A Walk on Water is directed by Emmet Brennan.
The filmmaker and director is the human persona narrating as he hikes the 200 miles along the Los Angeles aqueduct, examining the effects of a record-setting dry season. Seeking what he calls “stories of hope and healing” where water is increasingly scarce, Brennan meets with cultural leaders, indigenous people willing to share their traditional wisdom and leaders of the ecology movement who present new approaches to solving the water crisis. This film examines the relationship humans must work out with water. Where water was once reliable, it’s scarce; where abundant, it comes in floods, then fades.
Knowing that human life follows threes — we can’t live without oxygen for three minutes, water for three days, and food for three weeks - we can understand the need to protect the health of our air, our water, and our food sources.
• July 19: The Plastic Cup: The Official Story of the Plastic Pirates
This 53-minute documentary examines how we came to live in a world of plastic. Do you remember when not every single potato was wrapped and when we filled bags at the store instead of having one tiny item using up an almost unrecyclable plastic bag? In the past five decades, oil companies have created unprecedented amounts of a by-product that has been transformed into immense waste that cannot be recycled. This film shows what’s been happening on the Tisza River in Ukraine has become one of the most polluted as Russia continues to destroy the country. Ukrainians living in crisis have no choice but to dump their trash and plastic in the Tisza. Following the Tisza into Hungary, plastic is now creating a mountain. Governments are helpless, and the people are overwhelmed with the environmental problem. Enter the “Plastic Pirates” and their Plastic Cup Competition. They build boats from the trash and float down the river collecting all the plastic they can. Ten years later, they’ve collected tons of garbage and the Plastic Cup competition has become a tradition.
• Aug. 9: Into the Dark and Derek Nelson’s Evergreen
We’ll have a double feature: Clocking in at only 28 minutes, Into the Dark follows an expedition into the darkest regions of the Arctic on a mission to discover how climate change reaches into the most remote portions of the planet’s surface. The film shows how even the smallest choice even about turning on lights multiplies impact on marine life. Viewers will go along with the ride through rough seas, subzero temperatures, and polar night. It will include The Evergreen, a short film by Wabash professor, minister, and woodworker Derek Nelson where we’ll learn about building a sustainable house and home, followed by a lively discussion.
We hope you’ll join us for the free viewing and discussion series.
The League of Women Voters, a non-partisan, multi-issue organization encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. All men and women are invited to join the LWV where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. For information, visit the website www.lwvmontcoin.org or the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, IN Facebook page.