Fossil fuel emissions from human activity are driving up Earth's temperature. Less well known is that this warming has set in motion nature’s own feedback loops which are raising temperatures even higher. Northern Light Productions produced “Climate Emergency: Feedback Loops,” a series of five short films that explore climate feedback loops and what can be done to minimize them before they wreak more havoc on the environment. Narrated by Richard Gere, the films feature twelve world-renowned climate scientists who are conducting cutting-edge research on feedback loops.
“I am also an ardent supporter of environmental protection. We humans are the only species with the power to destroy the earth as we know it. Yet, if we have the capacity to destroy the earth, so, too, do we have the capacity to protect it.”
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Greta Thunberg, in his new book, Our Only Home: A Climate Appeal to the World
The first film is an Introduction that presents the concept of feedback loops and its relation to climate change with the aid of animations and interviews. It also provides an overview on the important ongoing research into these trends. The four main feedback loops related to our climate are each covered in a separate video.
The destruction of forests through deforestation, combined with the damaging consequences of a warming climate — drought, insects, and fires — cause an increase in carbon dioxide emissions.
The thawing of previously frozen organic matter contained in melting permafrost leads to the release of carbon dioxide and methane, both greenhouse gases that trigger additional warming and further thawing.
Higher temperatures in the Arctic cause disruptions to the jet stream and global weather patterns, driven by a feedback loop that brings even more warm air northward.
The Albedo effect, the reflection of the sun by ice and snow on the Earth’s poles is under threat; as ice and snow melt due to rising temperatures, even more warming sunlight hits the planet and is absorbed by warmer ocean water.
While these loops are already in motion, we still have the opportunity to slow, halt, and reverse them. We already have the knowledge and technology, and now we need to take urgent action to lower our carbon emissions before we reach a tipping point that endangers life on Earth. The films provide us with encouragement and steps for taking action to help restore balance to our climate. The films are subtitled in 20 languages and are available to view here.
On January 9, 2021, the Mind & Life Institute hosted a free livestream event: "The Dalai Lama with Greta Thunberg and Leading Scientists: A Conversation on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops” in conjunction with the launch of the films.
This was the first time that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and climate activist Greta Thunberg came together in conversation. They were joined by two leading scientists, Susan Natali, Arctic Program Director at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, and William Moomaw, Professor Emeritus of International Environmental Policy at Tufts University, with the conversation moderated by Diana Chapman Walsh, President Emerita of Wellesley College.
An archive of the livestream event can be found on the following websites:
For more information, check out this featured People Magazine article.