‘Paris to Pittsburgh’ – Climate change is here and now
Whether or not you believe climate change is real or that it’s caused by human activity, know this: There are communities across the country that believe it is and they’re taking steps to mitigate and combat its effects. And their efforts are detailed in a new National Geographic documentary debuting this week.
“Paris to Pittsburgh,” which premieres Wednesday, Dec. 12, explores the very real impacts of climate change and follows the efforts of local governments, businesses and individuals in California, Iowa, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Orlando, Fla., and Pittsburgh to make themselves resilient to the encroaching effects of climate change and also reduce their carbon emissions.
The film takes its title from a speech made by President Trump last year when he announced the U.S. was exiting the Paris Climate Agreement, saying, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
“(When) President Trump announced the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement,” explains Sidney Beaumont, who directed the 90-minute film with Michael Bonflglio, “we saw just an absolute outpouring, just an eruption and a response from people across so many sectors. … It seemed like a really important opportunity to try to examine this contrasting vision we saw coming from the federal government and what people were doing on the ground and speaking up and engaged in policies and practices to try to address what people really considered a very dire threat.”
The film contends that climate change isn’t something in the distant future, it’s already here, as wildfires in California, droughts and severe rain events in the Midwest and tidal flooding and disappearing beaches in Florida will attest. It also notes that the insurance industry is buying in, with a dwindling number of companies offering to insure homes on or near the water in Florida.
South Florida, with its many hurricanes and chronic flooding, is particularly vulnerable and some there have migrated north to places like Orlando, an inland city that has embraced renewable energy and efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
“Orlando has stepped up,” Beaumont says, “and I think is a real symbol of the kind of leadership that we’ve seen in municipalities across the U.S., who are saying, ‘We made a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy.’ These are the kinds of things that we need to do if we’re going to tackle this issue that has landed at our doorstep.”