Though you may not have noticed, Earth Day 2016 was pretty momentous as the final version of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was opened for signatures, and 177 countries signed the agreement and 15 have already ratified it. This should have been a moment for excitement; a celebration that the world has come together to fight climate change. However, pessimists will say that the agreement is toothless and might never get ratified by enough countries to be put into effect. Josh Fox’s new documentary, How to Let Go of the World: And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change advises us right in the title to appreciate it for what it is; but he also challenges us to seek out the things that might make a bigger difference. Things like courage, resilience, and innovation.
Fox’s previous documentary, Gasland and Gasland Part II, looked in depth at the issue of hydrofracking (or the extraction of natural gas). In the opening sequence of How to Let Go of the World, Fox celebrates the various bans on fracking that will help protect his home (and the homes and watersheds of millions of others). Dancing to the Beatles’ “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da,” the movie starts out very celebratory – an important goal has been achieved. Then Fox, who narrates the film in a similar style to Gasland, goes out to appreciate the land he’s saved and sees his trees dying. He saved the land from fracking only to watch it succumb to climate change and the problems that come with it.
One of the convincing methods Fox uses as a documentarian is to let you hear directly from the people who have more to say than he does about the subject. For climate change, he travels around the world talking to the Pacific Climate Warriors, as they attempt to blockade a port in kayaks and canoes against oil tankers; solar panel designers in China who can’t even see the sun on some days; and forest protectors who are literally covered in oil in the Amazon. Fox also returns to the States to understand how Hurricane Sandy destroyed houses, but not the root of NY/NJ communities. What Fox is trying to tell us, I think, is that there is hope. There are people out there using their skills, imagination and gumption to fight against a system that needs to be rattled loud enough for all of us to hear.
How to Let Go of the World: And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change is not without its gut punches though. One of which, for me, came when we see one of the solar panels that President Jimmy Carter put up on the White House in the 1970s, subsequently taken down by President Reagan, now living in a museum in China – and it still works. There are as many of these moments as there are things to root for. This is a film that will shake your beliefs and restore your faith that we, as a people, have the power to save ourselves.
Monday, May 2, 9:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Wednesday, May 4, 12:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Saturday, May 7, 9:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tickets can be purchased at the Hot Docs website.