Years of Living Dangerously | Reflections

Years of Living Dangerously [13+]

“From the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy to the upheaval caused by drought in the Middle East, this groundbreaking documentary event series provides first-hand reports on those affected by, and seeking solutions to, climate change.”


The breadth and scope of this series is quite incredible, taking us to the glaciers of Chile, the plains of Texas, the coast of Bangladesh, the hospitals of L.A., the rainforests of Indonesia, the hospitals of Los Angeles, the arctic, the antarctic, and the White House. Nominated for two 2014 Primetime Emmys, this series will educate, infuriate, and obligate us to heed the moral imperative around climate change. The main point: We are living dangerously.

Throughout the series, however, I was concerned by the paradox of communicating well the message and losing the audience through the messenger. In McLuhanian terms, “the medium is the message.” One poster child for climate activism is Al Gore, who has done some incredible work in media and communications, but has also reaped negative public relations credibility at the same time. Years of Living Dangerously exacerbates that problem by adding additional celebrities to the mix. In one aspect, these people are well-versed at being on camera, interviewing, being in the public spotlight, and most importantly, story-telling. That makes for an incredible production, one that is captivating and engaging to watch, a pleasing presentation that allows the viewer to understand at a visceral level the real impacts of climate change. At the same time, because they are celebrities, people who could be easily viewed as the Hollywood elite and lifestyle hypocrites, they run the risk of compromising the ultimate aims.

Regardless, if one can overlook the emotional challenges of the medium, the message is clear and compelling. If you are curious about the breadth and scope of climate change, this is a great series with which to begin. It is a comprehensive series that covers science, religion, politics, and philosophy, all for the hope of a better world.

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