Editor’s Note: This piece was originally posted on Heidi Hutner’s Blog, and is reprinted here with permission of the author.
“Can a person stop a wave? Could you stand on the shore and stop a wave from crashing? What are the things that climate change can’t destroy? What are those parts of us that are so deep that no storm can take them away?”
– Josh Fox
How to Let Go of the World opens with Josh Fox dancing to the Beatles — joyously celebrating the banning of hydraulic fracturing in New York State. Fox and thousands of fellow “frackativists” had just successfully pushed through the ban on ‘fracking’ in New York (2014).
Fox’s first environmental film, Gasland (2010), brought national attention to the negative environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing.
So, Fox had good reason to celebrate the New York State ‘fracking’ ban, and yet…
Fox soon recognized that while the banning of ‘fracking’ in New York State was a big win, there was and is much more to be concerned about in the environmental battle.
Namely: global Climate Change.
How to Let Go of the World next takes the viewer on Fox’s journey of environmental despair (a condition I deeply identify with and talk about in my TEDX talk “ECO-GRIEF”).
Fox returns to his family home in the woods that inspired the making of Gasland, only to discover that a favorite childhood tree is infested with parasitic insects (induced by Climate Change). The infested tree is a living symbol of the changed world we now inhabit–a world gravely altered by the ravages of fossil fuel extraction.
Fox is thrown into a state of hopelessness.
Yet Fox determines to, “find the people who’d found this place, this place of despair, and gotten back up.”
The film then takes the viewer all over the globe. We follow Fox as he seeks to understand how others cope with environmental grief.
We observe the negative environmental, health and social impacts of Hurricane Sandy in New York, sea-level rise in the Marshall Islands, deforestation and oil spills in the Amazon, and the wanton burning of fossil fuels in smog-laden China, among others.
Along the way, Fox has heart-to-heart conversations with prominent Climate Change authors Bill Mckibben, Elizabeth Kolbert, and climate scientist, Michael E. Mann. He also speaks with the activist and “civil disobedient” Tim DeChristopher, who went to jail for 21 months for protesting a Bureau of Land Management lease auction to the fossil fuel industry in Utah.
Fox introduces the audience to climate warriors everywhere who will not give up on hope or love – even in the face of disaster.
One fierce Marshall Island community chants: ‘We are not drowning, we are fighting!’
At the close of the showing of How to Let Go of the World at Manhattanville College, New York, where I viewed the film – amidst a sea of New York environmental activists, students, parents, grandparents, artists, actors, politicians, and musicians–Fox was present. He called on each of us to come together as a community – to do all in our power protect this earth and our loved ones.
Fox called on us to dance.
And so we did.
Join your community and dance.
Watch interviews (below) with Josh Fox right before the showing of How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change and on my show, Coffee with Hx2:
Heidi Hutner, PhD, teaches and writes about environmental literature, and film, environmental justice, ecofeminism, ecocriticism, and film and media at Stony Brook University, where she is the director of the Sustainability Studies Program and an Associate Dean in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. Hutner is also an active public speaker on environmental issues.