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November 2016

A Positive Outlook on Environmental Change

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On Friday, April 1st, I attended the Annapolis Film Festival’s Environmental Showcase at St. Anne’s Parish House. The Festival, now in its fourth year, attracts visitors from near and far to Annapolis for four days and over 70 films. It was great getting to meet other people that were interested in the environment and the Chesapeake Bay. I was able to talk to Mary-Angela Hardwick from Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay about Project Clean Stream which is one of the biggest watershed cleanup events in the area.

The large hall was full of eager attendees, and once the lights were dimmed, the house quieted and the first film began. The first film shown was Ocean Stories: Greg Stone. It was a short, inspiring documentary about marine biologist Dr. Greg Stone’s many experiences from diving to see shipwrecks in the tropics to exploring the underwater world of icebergs in Antarctica. It gave a haunting picture of what our oceans looked like just a few decades ago and how fragile they’ve become in recent years. The film also talked about several ways we can help stop the pollution and help restore these large marine ecosystems. Creating large marine protected areas is one way that Dr. Stone says will help protect our oceans. He believes that if we remove human interference and over-fishing that these endangered ecosystems will heal themselves.

The second film was The Last Bay Scallop?. Also a documentary, it centered on the last commercial Bay Scallop fishery, located in Nantucket, MA. The film focused on what is being and can still be done to solve the problem of the declining state of the fishery. Eel grass is extremely important to the Bay Scallop life cycle. To preserve the eel grass, the weights on the dredges can be removed so that the eel grass isn’t uprooted and killed. Nantucket also has a shellfish hatchery where Bay Scallop larvae are bred and then released by the millions into the water. The featured documentary in the showcase was called Climate Change: A Few Degrees Less. This film focused on the goal of keeping global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius before 2050.

My favorite film was The Last Bay Scallop? because it focused on a local issue. The issue seemed to be similar to problems in the Chesapeake Bay region. The community on Nantucket struck me as well. They’re dependent on the fishery just as much as the fishery is dependent on them. If the fishery is to be saved, it needs people to care for it and help restore it to what it once was, and the community on Nantucket has banded together to fight for their culture and way of life. The fact that so many people are working hard to save this ecosystem is admirable and the rest of the country can learn a lot from the people on Nantucket. I also liked the documentary because it wasn’t filled with doom like a lot of other environmental documentaries. Instead, it was able to express that people have a direct impact on the problem and on the solution, while keeping a positive tone. The film focused on the fact that we don’t have to completely change our lifestyles to make a difference. It did an excellent job of emphasizing that small changes, such as not using fertilizer on your yard, can make a big difference to the ecosystem.

I found the showcase to be refreshing. All the films had a positive tone and urged that change is possible, while making it seem less difficult than we may have imagined. I left the showcase feeling good about the chances we have to correct the damage that has been done to the marine and world ecosystems. ”People make the difference” was the message I took from all three films. We cannot just sit by and hope that things will improve. We have to take action to save the world we live in for future generations.

Marie Paterson is an intern at the Chesapeake Bay Trust in the Development and Communications Department and a junior at UMBC majoring in Psychology and Media and Communications.