Tuesday, 9 June 2009

A Sea Change: Imagine a World Without Fish

Imagine a world without fish: It seems inconceivable. But top scientists warn that such a catastrophe may in fact play out in coming generations unless widespread awareness is raised to stop ocean acidification.

A Sea Change will focus public attention on this urgent but little-known crisis. It follows retired educator and concerned grandfather Sven Huseby back to stunning ancestral sites (Norway, Alaska the Pacific Northwest) where he finds cutting-edge ocean research underway. His journey of self-discovery brings adventure, surprise and revelation to the hard science of acidification.

Niijii Films aims not only to educate viewers about the science of our rapidly-changing oceans, but also to engage them on accessible terms. This film delivers both the data necessary to build credibility with skeptics and also the cultural / spiritual dimensions that will capture the attention of--and motivate--diverse global audiences.

The world's oceans cover 70% of the planet's surface.

Hundreds of millions of people rely on the bounty of the seas for their survival and their cultural identity. Yet compared to terrestrial ecosystems, relatively little is known about our oceans.

What is conclusively known now is that the pH balance of the oceans has changed dramatically since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution: A 30% increase in acidification. With near unanimity, scientists now agree that the burning of fossil fuels is fundamentally reshaping ocean chemistry. Experts predict that over the next century, steady increases in carbon dioxide emissions and the continued rise in the acidity of the oceans will cause most of the world's fisheries to experience a total bottom-up collapse--a state that could last for millions of years.

Through the mass medium of film, A Sea Change will broaden the discussion about the dramatic changes we are seeing in the chemistry of the oceans, and convey the urgent threat those changes pose to our survival.

Ocean acidification threatens over 1,000,000 species with extinction--and with them, our entire way of life.
The film's protagonist has an usual relationship to the sea. Born in Norway, Sven Huseby's parents owned a fish market. After World War II, his father worked in a salmon cannery in a remote native village situated on an Alaskan fjord. Moving in the 1950s to the cultural security of Seattle, Sven spoke Norwegian in his neighborhood while developing his English at school, eating fish six days a week. He became the first in his family to attend college after admission to Yale.

The changes to our seas awaken Sven's environmental consciousness, but also threaten his cultural identity. Revisiting the places where he grew up, he witnesses the cultural, economic and ecological changes already underway and assesses the problems that ocean acidification might hold for future generations. New questions haunt him:

How will he explain to his oldest grandchild, Elias, what is happening to the oceans and their ecosystems? How will he teach Elias the traditions of his family, and their historic dependence on the sea? How will he help him look into a changing and uncertain future? What can each of us do to avoid contributing to a crisis threatening future generations?

Driven by these concerns, Sven embarks on a picturesque (and at times even picaresque) odyssey that leads him to small fishing villages whose cash crop is at risk, native communities whose way of life is being threatened, activists working to combat the crisis, and individuals who are changing their lifestyles to make a difference at the most local level. He seeks out entrepreneurs and investors and everyday people to discover what is being done to address these issues. At the end, Sven is reunited with his grandson to tell about all that he has learned.

A Sea Change is both a personal journey and a scientifically rigorous, sometimes humorous, and unflinchingly honest look at a reality that we all must act on before the oceans of our youth are lost for future generations.

A Sea Change: Imagine a World Without Fish