Sao Paulo de Janeiro
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

It is 60 degrees, cloudy and windy at times and I am listening to the National's new record surrounded by maple, oak and pine tress in my office.  No more Tim Maia, Marisa Monte, funky carioca or forró.  No more Os Mutantes.  I will need to close my eyes really tight to remember what it was and felt like 5,000 miles further South, over in Brazil.  Right now Barbara and Sven are on the West Coast receiving their Environmental Hero Award from NOAA and visiting Elias and his family while back here in NY we received this past week news of three broadcasts on Norwegian national television, NRK (which made Sven particularly happy), and of the screening at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver.  The Vancouver Observer did a nice little piece about it that you can read here.

The penultimate screening was at the Cineclube Socioambiental Crisantempo in Vila Madalena.  Vila Madalena fools you into thinking that the gigantic city that envelops it does not exist.  It is a beautiful neighborhood with posh restaurants, bars with terraces, boutiques, artists' studios, bakeries.  If you are rich in Sao Paulo, you want to hang out around Vila Madalena and forget about the traffic jams, the hectic Avenida Paulista, the putrid Pinheiros River, the more than 20 million people around. Crisantempo offers a fantastic space in which to host film, theatre, dance and music performances.  It is all very well organized and cared for, all extremely professional.  Everybody talks about the city being the engine of South America, more cosmopolitan, faster paced and wealthier than anywhere else in the continent and I guess it is true.  For me it was a relief to have the last screenings being a little less stressful and unpredictable.  In preparation for our night the organizers had contacted Leandra Gonçalves from Greenpeace Brasil to be present during the Q&A.  That gave me the opportunity to not have to listen so much to myself again and learn some very interesting things about the attempts (or lack thereof) in Brazil to preserve coastal waters and marine ecosystems.  Although I had already noticed how much meat is eaten everywhere, I was surprised to know that the average consumption per capita of fish in Brazil barely reaches 8 kilograms (it is 58 kilograms over in Spain, but we might only be beat by Japan in our dependency and love for fish).  It is a bit of a paradox that a country so associated with sandy beaches and coconut groves, surfing, water and nature can literally have its back turned in another direction if we just look at their national policies and their diet.  Ms Gonçalves was very keen to talk about whales (a symbol for Greenpeace), so took the opportunity to tell the audience that one of the possible future lines of research in regards to ocean acidification and marine life could be  the impact a more acidic ocean will have on animals that communicate through sound underwater.  One of the lesser known facts about acidification is that a decrease of 0.3 in the PH equals a 40% decrease in the sound absorption coefficient.  Yes, there could be acoustic contamination in the oceans as well.

100 different types of fruit at the Municipal Market in Sao Paulo.

In a city like Sao Paulo some of the favelas are vertical. Outside the Municipal Market.

Then it was time to go back to Río, catch a few more waves on Ipanema beach, watch the city at sunset from Sugar Loaf, buy a kilo of powdered guaraná and go to the final screening, at the Solar da Imperatriz in the Jardim Botanico;  no less!

 The place was also known as Facenda dos Macacos, after the river that passes through it, but either macaques really liked the name or I want to believe their profusion had something to do with it as well.  They run up and down electric wires, roll on roofs, feed along the fences, curious and nervous, mothers carrying several offspring on the backs. With those curled up tails, hanging at different heights, they looked like musical notes on a score to the Mata Atlântica.

The somewhat long drive up to this lush location in the outskirts of Rio did not prevent the screening form going really well.  Cecilia Herzog from Inverde and her husband Alex (Amigos do Parque) were in charge of the whole thing and through their hard work, devotion and energy made sure that it all run smoothly, in a brilliant manner.  The most positive thing about this trip has certainly been meeting people like them and like Fabiana Duarte de Paula, Eudaldo Guimaraes, Ana Arruda, Suzana Sattamini, Pedro Cavalcanti, Natalia Ribeiro, Andrea Palatnik, Luciano Mariz, Gina Boemer or so many other amazing folks that I am surely forgetting now and have shown to me such conviction and hope in change, such great generosity and will to help, sharing their energy and intelligence for this project.  They have restored my at times damaged faith in human kind.

This time at the end we had a panel discussion with journalist Amélia Gonzales from O Globo and oceanographer David Zee from the University Veiga de Almeida and the collaboration from members of the audience, like Trajano Paiva, who runs a website devoted to the oceans called
What a great aftertaste to six fantastic weeks in Brazil.  And now for something completely different.

This post is dedicated to my good friend Miguel Gil, who helped me throughout the whole trip, shared the laughter, joys and miseries that come from traveling and just yesterday experienced the tragedy of his half of the cupuaçu cracking in the dry Granada air.  We will go and get some more, Miguel.

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SCRIPPS and A Sea Change: Science and Cinema on a Mission
Saturday, June 10, 2017
On Friday night we had a reunion in La Jolla with our colleagues from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  It was the first time we had gotten together since we stormed COP15.  After much strategizing, we have decided to have a repeat performance at COP16 in November.  We concluded that we had, in fact, made a difference, and we need to continue as an effective team on the ground.
Many blog entries and articles were written in Copenhagen on ocean acidification and A Sea Change, and here is one example (also pasted below) from a graduate student at Scripps:

A Sea Change
This film is amazing. If every parent could see this film, they would be set on fire to do something to stop ocean acidification. It follows the journey of one man, the filmmaker, Sven Huseby, who, after reading an article in the New Yorker about ocean acidification, becomes determined to save the beautiful fragile pteropods who are in the most danger of losing their shells if we continue emitting carbon dioxide and acidifying the oceans, so his grandson will grow up in a world will an ocean teeming with life.

After a screening of the film on December 10, there was a Q&A with Vicki Fabry, Andrew Dickson, Tony Haymet, and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. The moderator, Brad Warren, kicked off this portion of the Q&A with an attempt to address two criticisms: Two kinds of hope being peddled at COP-15, both of which deserve to be thrown out of the window of a tall building. Geoengineering in the form of ocean fertilization. And the fact that adult lobsters grow thicker shells in a more acidic sea sometimes. You can click on the link to hear the panelists’ response:

Tamara Beitzel, Scripps graduate student
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Washington Post reviews A Sea Change
Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ann Hornaday reviews A Sea Change in today's issue of The Washington Post (March 12). An excerpt:

"The story of a retired educator who becomes interested in, and finally consumed by, the declining state of the world's oceans, the film [A Sea Change] brings a crucial and little-known Elias_Sven_aquarium-smallissue to the attention of filmgoers. The movie, which takes the audience to some of the globe's most attractive locales, brings to surprisingly absorbing life the subject of ocean acidification. That's what happens when carbon dioxide -- released by cars and other fossil-fuel-burning culprits -- ends up in the sea, thereby fatally changing its chemistry. . . .

"A Sea Change," which was co-produced by Huseby and directed by Barbara Ettinger, looks terrific, with lots of breathtaking footage of the natural world, from the tiniest pteropod (the fluttery, planktonic sea snail that is most threatened by acidification) to the most majestic Norwegian scenery. And, at a time when plenty of documentaries want to be the "Inconvenient Truth" of fill-in-the-issue, "A Sea Change" brings a genuinely important subject to the fore with a welcome lack of jargon and preaching."

Read the complete review here.

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Matter Network reviews A Sea Change
Saturday, June 10, 2017

Erica Gies reviewed A Sea Change March 6. Here's a brief excerpt (read the whole review here):

"Ocean acidification is such a scary problem that many people would rather not think about it — kind of like climate change. But “A Sea Change” goes a long way toward making this uncomfortable topic oh-so-human."

In case you're not familiar with Matter Network (we weren't!), here's their self-description:

" reports on emerging green technologies and clean energy and their economic, political, andlifestyle impacts. In addition to creating original content, Matter Network aggregates the leading editorially-independent websites that cover topics ranging from green building and alternative energy to cleantech and responsible investing – all resulting from the shift toward sustainable business practices and products."

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NBC DC reports on A Sea Change
Saturday, June 10, 2017

Anchor Wendy Rieger produced a story on A Sea Change last week, leading up to our premiere Saturday in the DC Environmental Film Festival. Below is an excerpt. Wendy reports on environmental issues regularly in her series "Going Green" on NBC 4 in Washington.

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A Sea Change reviewed by Prof. Jeff Levinton, Stony Brook University
Saturday, June 10, 2017

"The feeling that we have stolen something from our children falls heavy on the old, who wonder whether they have done right by themselves, their family, and their society. Sven Huseby feels this deeply as he discovers that his generation has profoundly changed the atmosphere by adding carbon dioxide. The ocean will acidify and perhaps extinguish a large part of the base of the oceanic food web. Sven’s parents met amid the bounty of fish that could be caught and sold in Norway, and then his family moved to Alaska where you could walk on the fish schools. Now will his grandson face a world without fish?

Sven rowsThis gentle film follows Sven’s journey, from his Norwegian roots, to a new life in the United States, to his idealistic days as a teacher in a progressive school in Vermont, to his retirement and longing for a way to tell his grandson Elias how special the world was when Sven was young and how much it will take to keep it that way.

The journey is not linear, which makes it all the more compelling. Sven meets scientists, hoteliers, fishermen, conservationists, and environmental entrepeneurs, all who tell an alarming story but end it with the glimmer of hope that can make an idealist like Sven positively giddy. As the movie comes to a close, Sven hears about green technologies and his childlike wonder tell all about his evanescant and hopeful personality. The movie is clearly of the documentary mode, but it is beautifully shot and moves from place to place in North America and Norway in a smooth and effective track. Sven learns, thinks, shows his deep love for his grandson, but never forgets his mission to communicate the future and the consequences of inaction.

California-Sven&Elias3[A Sea Change] is the opposite, as much as is possible, of the hard-hitting An Inconvenient Truth. Instead of a starring personality who sucks the air from all around him, we see a thoughtful person who thinks and moves carefully, and never makes you feel sorry for him or the planet. When he asks questions, you feel that you want to help him and talk with him. I never felt that for a second about Al Gore, to be truthful. You will be charmed by Sven, his conversations, and his lovely smart grandson. You will leave the theater hopeful. You will find Sven ever kind, but ever persistent. Don’t expect piles of facts or even the complete story about ocean acidification from this film. That is not the point. Mr. Huseby wants you to test the roots of your idealism, your resolve, and your hope for the future and its children."
Jeffrey Levinton, Director, Marine Biology Web Page, Distinguished Professor, Stony Brook University

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Testimonial for A Sea Change from a Climate Project presenter
Saturday, June 10, 2017

"I received A Sea Change after I returned home from work Monday. I finally had a chance today to sit and watch it and I was beyond impressed!  It is a wonderful journey of discovery that Sven and Elias takes us on. So perfectly made. BRAVO!!! 

I hope with all my heart that as many people as possible watch this. I will do everything I can to forward those to your social network pages, and please let me know if there is anything more I can do.

Like Sven and many others in A Sea Change, once I learned about the problem of ocean acidification I have been able to think of little else.The dire message of ocean acidification is beautifully conveyed in the film and does a wonderful job of highlighting the duty of us all to become educated and called to action.

THANK YOU so much for arranging to send this. I cannot wait to bring it to Nashville!"

—Jess Reese, The Climate Project Presenter

The Climate Project consists of 2,600 dedicated volunteersfrom throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, India, Spain, andthe UK, all personally trained by Al Gore to educate the public aboutclimate change. TCP presenters have reached a combined 4 million peopleworldwide. Jess will be presenting A Sea Change at TCP's North American Summit in May.

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Grist reviews A Sea Change
Saturday, June 10, 2017

"One reviewer has called it a “global warming horror documentary.”And there is certainly plenty to fear as Huseby—and the audience—learnsmore and more about the threat of ocean acidification. He interviewsscientists who tell him 118 billion metric tons (or 118 billion VW Bugsworth) of CO2 have already been absorbed by the ocean. He watches theenamel of a human tooth quickly dissolve after sitting in a cupful ofcarbonated water. He listens during a conference where scientists askeach other how they missed this big issue—and whether we’re alreadyscrewed (answer: probably).

But despite all this, A Sea Change emerges as more love story than horror flick. . . .

Huseby is more energized than ever in his quest to publicize thedual threats of ocean acidification and global warming. During a paneldiscussion following a Seattle International Film Festival screening,Huseby announced that he’ll be attending the United Nations ClimateChange Conference in Copenhagen this December and will be showing thefilm there. He’s also planning screenings for the National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a UN delegation. He’s even beenasked to testify on the topic in front of Congress.

“We have a 10-15 year window to make some noise,” he said. “I wouldlove to see the term ‘ocean acidification’ become part of the politicaldiscourse.”

And thanks to this film—and Huseby’s love of the ocean—it just might."

—Sarah van Schagen, Grist

Read the rest of van Schagen's story here.

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