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We do not value human life as an absolute. If we did, we would require cars to drive at ten miles an hour or however slowly was required to ensure that nobody was ever killed again on the roads. We do not even value our own lives in absolute terms. If we did, we would never stir out of our houses into the risky world.

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Baarschers has done well to remind us that toxic substances become toxic only when we ingest them to excess. It is a shame that his book is so patchy. He describes air pollutants in careful detail, and his assessments are as authoritative as one would expect from a scientist with his credentials. But why no mention of asthma and its pandemic proportions in many countries of the world?

It seems to stem in major measure from house pollutants and vehicle emissions. It is not being alarmist to assert that asthma is an emergent environmental problem with exceptional economic repercussions. In Britain asthma is estimated to cost at least Pounds 2 billion each year, or Pounds per household possibly twice as much. Marginal analysis, anyone? Author - William H. Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online.

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Keeping the plough ahead of the stork | Times Higher Education (THE)

Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:. Already registered or a current subscriber? Sign in now. Constant checks on their presence and bureaucratic curbs on their movement leave international students feeling like security threats, says Alexander Mack. Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking Book of the week: Jules Pretty admires a powerful study of what a declining insect population reveals about how we are treating the planet.

Douglas J. Davies considers an analysis of how funerary practices can take much greater account of ecological concerns. Book of the week: Leo Mellor assesses a bold attempt to make the case for literature and criticism in the light of environmental disaster. Skip to main content. Keeping the plough ahead of the stork. Eco-facts and Eco-Fiction. October 31, Share on twitter Share on facebook Share on linkedin Share on whatsapp Share on mail.

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Have your say Log in or register to post comments. Most commented Brexit Party scholar: quite a few academics are secret Brexiteers. By Jack Grove. UK union members back strike action over pay and pensions. By Chris Havergal. By Alexander Mack. Best universities for graduate jobs: Global University Employability Ranking By Matthew Reisz. The world of film, and of audiovisual industries more generally, has progressively taken on board environmental considerations, so that they have now become a key issue for this art form.

At the heart of said environmental considerations is the climate, one of the subjects most frequently covered by the media, as Guillaume Sainteny claims in his analysis of media portrayals of climate change. Eco-cinema, a type of film in which the climate is often the main theme, sometimes is based on the reality and objectivity of scientific facts, and sometimes becomes a medium for another message, or is used for different purposes altogether. The environmental question has for some time been treated cinematographically, in fiction films that assign this or that responsibility for an ecological catastrophe, or in documentaries that are genuine case files on industrial pollution, river diversion, planned deforestation, or desertification, etc.

The question of economic and political issues also arises in this multi-faceted universe. Are we dealing here with renewed environmentalism, with a mere fashionable trend, or with a desire to educate and raise awareness among a greater number of viewers?


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Climate change is omnipresent in films. From scientific documentary films to mainstream disaster movies to animated features, climate change has become a favorite topic for filmmakers. Several documentary films have met with genuine success in France and abroad. As for The Age of Stupid , a film perched between documentary and fiction, it propels British actor Pete Postlethwaite to the year he is the sole survivor of an annihilated planet—a great classic screenplay trope for this kind of film.


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The Age of Stupid historicizes climate change in the form of archival videos and highlights the inaction that has led to the destruction of the Earth. These films each represent very different propositions on the topic of climate change, but they share an awareness of the situation our planet currently finds itself in, and an assignment of collective responsibility to individuals in the long term. One of the documentaries that was internationally successful, acknowledged and celebrated the world over, An Inconvenient Truth which came out in , two years after the American president George W.

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Bush was reelected , is a good illustration of this. He has been criticized for using and misappropriating his film for political ends, as well as for the scientific data it presents. In fiction films, imagination takes over from the reality of the climate and rewrites it.

A Dialogue on Facts Fiction History: Umberto Eco - Orhan Pamuk (Full Version)

Several variations on this theme have been suggested in mainstream disaster movies which are often American-produced blockbusters , in which a natural catastrophe is at the center of the story. A violent climate imbalance propels the planet into a new ice age. A certain number of the mainstream films have in fact lost credibility. This can be explained by the explosion of the number of films on this topic, which have not always known how to rethink the climate or present a different aspect of it, with the films often remaining stuck in a familiar type of narrative.

This is also due to the increasing significance that is attached to climate change by various media, which have in the past tended to trivialize the phenomenon. Faced with the challenge of preventing climate change, the film industry and its various players have gradually come around to considering what can be done within their industry. The audiovisual professionals who are committed to this approach rely on specific tools practical guidelines are available online and commit by signing a charter which was created in This green wave has also developed beyond Europe.

The same goes for the Green Production Guide.