Watch and Learn

By Nikita Sridhar, Niklas van der Wagt, and Samantha Smithies

UCLA Carbon Neutrality Ambassadors

Bored at home? So were we… Until we realized that we could learn more about sustainability and the climate crisis all from the safety of our homes. Below are four highlights of our quarantine screening.

“Free Solo” – While not directly a sustainability/conservation related documentary, we find that documentaries such as “Free Solo” which are about the natural world and the intimate connection humans have with it inspires a call to action to protect the planet. Alex Honnold is a world renowned rock climber who scales terrifyingly dangerous rock faces like El Capitan in Yosemite with absolutely no equipment whatsoever. Alex’s story is so captivating because it demonstrates a raw connection with the natural world, so potent it motivates him to put his life on the line (which is ironic, as free soloists are known for not using lines!). Stream “Free Solo” on Hulu.

“The Game Changers” – Rather than taking on a clearly environmental or animal rights viewpoint, “The Game Changers” examines the benefits of a vegan diet from a health and performance angle. The documentary follows former UFC fighter James Wilks and his transition to a plant-based diet after being injured. As students who already eat almost entirely plant-based, the film pushed us to move further toward a fully vegan diet. While it motivated us, we found that “The Game Changers” was particularly motivational for our family and friends who didn’t initially recognize the advantages of plant-based diets, especially for those who view eating meat as tied to masculinity. While the film’s science and statistics have been brought under question, the message is still executed in an entertaining and effective way. Stream “The Game Changers” on Netflix.

“The Invisible Vegan” – Sometimes finding movies can be pricey and time-consuming, but this homemade series can be found on YouTube (for free) and is perfect for those willing to learn about the intersection between diet and environment. This series in particular helped us understand what veganism is and isn’t. The word ‘vegan’ implies a lot more than its definition in today’s world, so taking some time to learn about what it means to have a plant-based diet in our society was eye-opening. Topics include health, environment, stereotypes, cost, and more!

2017 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: De-Extinction – The Natural History Museum has yearly debates on pressing questions at the frontier of science and innovation. While this may sound like prescribed viewing for your Astrophysics class, watching 2017’s debate was such an enjoyable yet informative experience. Neil DeGrasse Tyson moderated this debate with scientists including UCLA’s very own professor, Beth Shapiro (Go Bruins!), about de-extinction. Bringing back mammoths to North America to restore the ecology sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi novel… but will it be a future we live to see?