Dede’s Green Scene: The Race to Save the World by Dede Tabak, May 18 2021, 155 Comments


The Race to Save the World is a new documentary film by Emmy-Award winning director, Joe Gatz. The film follows the lives of climate activists who are prepared to sacrifice everything in order to raise awareness for climate change—their lives, families, mental health and even their freedom. Unlike other films on climate change, The Race to Save the World doesn’t focus on science statistics. Instead, it uses human stories to illuminate the fight for climate action in a new way. 

The activists in the film include Abby Brockman, who is arrested after 8 hours for blocking a train transporting oil; Michael Foster, who is arrested for shutting a valve on the Keystone Pipeline; Bill Moyer, a “kayaktivist” who along with 200 other people, used his kayak to block the floating oil rig called the Polar Pioneer from being sent to the Arctic to drill; Aji Piper, who along with other teens in the state of Washington, sued the state for violating their constitutional rights by failing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect them from the impacts of climate change.

The film also follows a group of people who walked 3,000 miles across the country to raise awareness for climate change, including a 72-year-old woman named Miriam Kashia.

I spoke directly with the director, Joe Gatz. Here are his insights. 

What inspired you to make this documentary?

I wanted to make a film about people fighting climate change. I felt that many films about climate change focus on how bad things are and how much worse they will get. Those films can be so overwhelming and depressing that viewers feel hopeless watching them. I decided to follow regular people who are in the trenches doing all they can to try to turn this around, people who see the danger coming and are not willing to tune it out and go about their lives. I felt that these activists’ passion and unwavering commitment to draw attention to the climate crisis will inspire and energize viewers to get involved and make their voices heard for a livable future. 

What are you hoping viewers will gain from this film?

I would like people watching The Race To Save The World to say to themselves, if Aji at age 15, or Miriam at age 72, or Bill or Abby or Michael in between, can do what they are doing, then I can do something. The difference between the subjects in this film and most people on this planet, is that these folks are taking action, these people can’t tune out the problem. Everything we love can be lost if we ignore climate change and go about our lives. There is no more time to wait and see if someone will come along and miraculously save us. We need to jump in, take to the streets, make our voices heard and do whatever we can to try to turn this around and create a livable world for future generations.

Has your perspective on climate change shifted after watching the film?

My perspective hasn't changed. 

The film focuses on individuals who risk almost everything for their activism—jobs, families, freedom. Did you ever get the sense that they regretted giving up so much in the name of their cause?

I think everyone in the film sees what dangers we face with climate change and they know that until we make fundamental changes in the way we create and use energy, the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change will only get worse. So I don't think any of the subjects in this film regret their actions.  

Do you think the activists' actions are enough to make a difference?

I think that most people know that climate change is something we need to address immediately, and that it will take the concerted efforts of everyone to make the changes necessary to turn this around. On the other hand, I think that the majority of politicians in this country are unwilling to make the changes we need to make because they are financed by the fossil fuel industry. The only way we will convince the politicians to do what is right, is to get into the streets in large numbers and make our voices heard for a livable future. If we can get enough people onboard, then the politicians will have no choice but to follow our lead.

One of the younger activists in the film is a high schooler named Aji. He talks about suffering from insomnia and depression due to his "climate anxiety". Do you think it's fair that our youth feel like they have to fight against climate change?  

I don't think it is fair that young people inherited a world that is in danger of the ice caps melting, the sea level rising, the storms and droughts getting worse, millions of climate refugees in the near future, and facing a possible extinction of the plants, animals and ecosystems. This is the world that previous generations have created, and previous generations are not doing enough to fight climate change with the funding and the focus that is needed to turn this around.  

This film has definitely inspired me to take more action and I am sure it will inspire others as well. What are some things we can do to help stop climate change?

There is a list of organizations on our website that people can join. And there are subgroups of these organizations in whatever part of the country or the world you live in. 

I would agree with Miriam and others (in the film) that the antidote for depression is to take action to combat climate change. And I would agree with Bill, when he and his daughter are talking on the couch in the film. His daughter says, "Change is inevitable so it shouldn’t be feared". Bill replies, "Yes, change is inevitable, but are we going to be the authors of that change or the victims of the change?"

We all have to get involved and do what we can, now, while there is still time to turn this around. You certainly don’t need to get arrested, you just need to participate at this critical moment and stand with those on the right side of history, the side of these climate warriors who are doing all they can to save the world for future generations. 

The Race to Save the World, is out now in theaters and streaming.