A virtual premiere and webinar event was held to celebrate the release of Climate Impact Asia, a documentary series tackling the effects of climate change in Southeast Asia, last October 7. The virtual launch highlighted risks in the region and the importance of science and communication in understanding the changing climate and how we can adapt to it.
OML Center Executive Director Dr. Rodel D. Lasco joined the panel composed of Prof. Benjamin Horton, director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), Dr. Sylvia Earle, EOS Scientific Advisory board member and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Jorge Franzini, CuriosityStream director of content and development, and Liz Courtney, Climate Impact Asia series director.
A high-risk region
In his welcome remarks, Prof. Horton shared the history of the EOS and the vulnerabilities in Southeast Asia. Founded four years after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, the EOS conducts fundamental research on earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and climate change in and around the region, which, according to Prof. Horton, has the “greatest concentration of geohazards and climate hazards on our planet.”
He cited tectonic hazards, threats of devastating land-falling tropical cyclones, hundreds of active volcanoes, and devastating impacts of sea level rise to about 600 million people in the region. He underscored that hazards can quickly become disasters, especially in areas with high population densities.
Given these characteristics, Prof. Horton shared efforts by the EOS’ Centre for Geohazard Observations to collect data from around Southeast Asia, with 175 stations in eight countries to better understand land movement, volcanic activities, and rising sea levels.
Role of knowledge, communication
In her keynote speech, Dr. Earle noted that, while the region is in the frontline of the impacts of rising seas, powerful storms, and threats to food and health security, people are also at the frontline of solutions, armed with knowledge, technology, and “will to work with nature to secure a prosperous future for generations to come.”
Dr. Earle noted that despite the indiscriminate havoc caused by the pandemic: “If concerns about our health can cause shifts in our behavior, there’s hope that concerns about planetary health can mobilize action in time to do what it takes to stabilize the planetary processes that we have disrupted.”
“Some say it will be impossible to change our ways to combat climate change, but if people take to heart that their lives depend on it, change is possible,” she added.
Representing one of the countries most severely impacted by climate change, Dr. Lasco shared that the way to build the country’s resilience is through policies and practice that has “undergone scientific rigor.”
He highlighted the importance of good communication as it is “essential in disseminating the right information that leads to action.” He cited as an example the documentary “Mga Kwento ng Klima”, which chronicles the story of climate in the context of the Filipino experience drawing insights from experts and narratives on the ground. The award-winning documentary was produced by the Center in collaboration with ABS-CBN DocuCentral and was aired in November 2019.
Dr. Lasco also shared the ongoing collaborative research between the OML Center and the EOS on sea level rise and its impacts in the Philippines. (Read: “Addressing Sea Level Rise: Importance of historical data, projections and local adaptation highlighted by experts during online forum”)
From the fields and labs to the screen
Courtney shared that there has never been such an important time to be able to tell stories and translate the work that scientists are doing in the field to television and digital platforms. “As a filmmaker, I seek to tell these stories and to take viewers out of the lab and to see science and discovery in action to enable knowledge and education around climate change impacts and solutions.”
Franzini further highlighted that, by connecting the fieldwork into the lab, the series provides an insight into the technology that is driving scientific research and the evidence-based results. “The best films in conservation don’t preach. Instead, they leave us a lasting impression. They inform us on how we can make a change,” he said. He added that “The climate situation isn’t just an Asia problem, it’s a global one, and it really couldn’t be any more dire. But by inspiring viewers through the hard work, dedication, and most importantly, the impact of the scientists and researchers, we’re helping build a foundation for a better future.”
The four-part documentary series was created by EOS and CuriosityStream, a video streaming and television company focused on factual content. It features storylines on Sea Level Rise, Coastal Hazards, Food Security, and Tectonic and Volcanic Activity.
Visit the EOS website for the podcast version of Climate Impact Asia.
A recording of the premiere and webinar is available for streaming via the YouTube page of EOS.
OML Center’s “Mga Kwento ng Klima” is available for viewing via iWant TFC or the YouTube page of ABS-CBN News.