Calgary filmmaker Mathew Embry set out to make a documentary on global warming that was fair with people on both sides of the contentious issue.
With his 95-minute documentary Global Warning he has certainly done all that, and more.
“It’s a film I wanted to make since 2008 when I started seeing problems developing in the oil patch and in Calgary and how it was being portrayed in the media,” Embry told the Western Standard in an interview.
Embry met with producer Peter Beyak, who shared a similar interest, and after some fundraising, the project was underway.
The issue is not a new one for Embry; his fifth-grade science project on global warming was an early sign.
But the father of two knew it was time to jump into action and Global Warning is the end of almost a decade of work.
“I want my kids to live in a world that is [as] good or better than the one I live in,” said Embry.
“People have to be realistic – cheap energy is part of our quality of life. We need energy to survive.”
Embry describes himself as a “social justice” filmmaker whose past projects have included a look at the opioid crisis and multiple sclerosis. Up next is a project on concussions.
The argument about climate change has been ongoing for years. Some scientists say the research is obvious that climate change is underway and that mankind is responsible. Other scientists disagree.
The documentary provides both sides of the argument and wraps up with a debate between University of Ottawa climate scientist Dr. Ian Clarke and Catherine Abreu, the executive director of the Climate Action Network, which represents more than 100 different activist groups.
Abreu, along with the Pope, has been named one of the top 100 influential people on climate change in the world. Clark has devoted 30 years to researching the effects of CO2 on climate change.
The exchange comes at the end of a documentary whose maker travelled the world in his research.
It starts with an ominous warning from controversial U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,” AOC has said.
Embry notes the effect an international social media campaign has had in casting the Alberta oil sands in a negative light. Hollywood heavyweights, including Leonardo DiCaprio, have visited Fort McMurray and have been part of the campaign. DiCaprio said that the oil sands looked like a scene from Mordor in the Lord of the Rings.
Distressing scenes are shown in the film of the “chilling effect” of empty Calgary offices, and former politician turned radio talk-show host, Danielle Smith fighting back tears as she discusses a caller who was about to layoff 25 per cent of his workforce.
About 25 per cent of downtown offices in Calgary sit empty after the world price of oil dropped because of a price war between Russia and the Saudi, and a chronic lack of pipeline capacity which effectively landlocks Alberta.
“This is not the city I grew up in,” says Embry.
Calgary environmental protests are recognized along with footage of a heckler being dragged away by Calgary police after interrupting a forum at the Global Petroleum Show.
But the oil industry is starting to fight back and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. – one of Canada’s largest producers – gave Embry “unprecedented access” to their oil sands operations to show what they are doing to help the environment.
Joy Romero, CRNL’s vice-president, Technology and Innovations, said the reclamation projects the company has done “look like national parks.” A CRNL worker is shown in front of a pipe discharging effluent into the notorious tailings ponds that have drawn worldwide attention.
“It doesn’t look pretty,” admitted CRNL Manager of Mine Technical Services Todd Draper.
But looks do not tell the whole story, as Draper points out, detailing all the efforts made by CRNL are making on the environment protection side and cleaning up tailings ponds.
Embry said documenting the open pit mining by CNRL “was uncomfortable filming” and the scenes looked “surreal.”
“Mining is not pretty,” said Embry adding it’s difficult to show the 100 year difference reclamation will do for the environment in a single National Geographic photo.
Legendary oilman Gwyn Morgan – founder of EnCana – told Embry the energy industry is currently in “political purgatory.”
“Albertans are resiliant, they are hard to keep down,” said Morgan, adding he now senses Albertans have “lost hope.”
Embry argues the main problem Alberta is facing is the lack of pipeline capacity.
And while a large number of Indigenous groups support, and would benefit economically from pipelines, others are using treaties signed by the federal government in the 1700’s to make their case against them.
“It’s the white guys who make the rules,” said Raymond Owl, founder of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Elders.
“We mean business. We’ve been too timid. What would you do if you had the government by the balls?
“Science is a farce, a theory. It’s not a fact.”
Embry notes the large quantities of oil imported into Eastern Canada because of the lack of a cross-Canada pipeline.
Embry drives across Texas, where close to one million wells are pumping and firing the state’s economy. The U.S. is now on course to be the biggest oil producer in the world.
Abreu is shown attending a UN climate change conference in Germany. She told Embry most of the information she uses are from the independent UN group Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Abreu is shown attending a UN climate change conference in Germany. She told Embry most of the information she uses are from the independent UN group Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
One of the key interviews in the film is with Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the original founders of Greenpeace.
Moore proudly shows off photos of the Greenpeace Zodiac getting between whaling ships and their prey, along with a photo of him protecting a baby seal from being clubbed in Labrador.
But Moore has now left the organization after it turned from a volunteer group to an international business with more than 2,000 staff.
He describe some of Greenpeace’s work now on climate change as a “racket” and have “manufactured a climate crisis.”
“I found it surprising a well known environmentalist has a counter position to the current environmental argument,” said Embry.
The University of Ottawa’s Clark noted there have been warming periods every thousand years, from the Roman era to the Middle Ages, to now.
“The science is never settled. Open debate is what we need to have,” said Clark, adding there is “zero evidence” of CO2 emissions causing climate change.
“The hysteria is inbred and ingrained in the younger generation. They don’t have a clue what they are talking about.”
German climate scientist, and wind power expert, Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt told Embry climate action benefits countries like Russia, China and Saudi Arabia who don’t play by the rules.
He said it will lead to “exploding” energy prices and increasing blackouts around the world.
“The real players need to be at the table,” said Vahrenholt. “Other countries just won’t follow Canada.”
Embry said the part of the film that strikes with him the most is seeing all the wind farms across the length of Germany. “There is a vastness to it that is hard to capture.”
Geopolitical author John Perkins argued that Canada faces the real threat of falling into a crisis like the one that Venezuela is currently experiencing.
Embry argues a third way of thinking, a middle-way approach, is needed to help address the issue in Canada, which has the third largest energy reserves in to the world and some of the best “clean energy” technology.
“We can show the world how it can be done,” said Embry.
The documentary ends with Clark and Abreu arguing passionately their side of the story. Both agree, their hearts are in the right place. They want what’s best for their children and grandchildren. And that’s what Emry says he wants for his children.
“I hope people on both sides of the issue take the time to watch the documentary,” said Embry.
Global Warning is a must watch for people on both sides of the debate.
You can watch a trailer and buy the VOD here:www.globalwarningdocumentary.com
The main trailer is on Youtube athttps://youtu.be/-W29sxthdME
It’s also available on SuperChannel in Canada.