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The Athena Cinema in uptown Athens displays shows times for "Awake," a documentary about protesters at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation as part of the Sustainability Series on April 4. 

‘The Human Element’ to screen at the Athena Cinema to illustrate climate change message

Climate change is an issue that the world deals with every day. 

There’s the impact of natural disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes, the changing quality of the air and the sea-level rising. However, there’s one element that is always in need of deeper exploration: the human element. 

The Athena Cinema, 20 S. Court St., recognizes the real events of climate change in the world and is hosting the Spring Sustainability Film Series in collaboration with the nonprofit environmental group Green Energy Ohio. The second film of the series, called The Human Element, follows environmental photographer James Balog as he investigates the impact of natural disasters and the human element of climate change, hopefully urging people to re-evaluate their relationship with Earth.

Though the film is meant to teach audiences the reality of climate change, associate professor of environmental and plant biology Arthur Trese has to teach people climate change realities every day. 

“We aren’t going to have people working towards solutions if they’re not aware of the seriousness of the problem,” Trese said. “The education part is to help people understand what the consequences are, what the challenges are and what the consequences of avoiding those challenges are.”

Trese believes climate change boils down to the political side and the personal side. On the political side, people can join organizations that lobby for change, add their voices to the conversation and give financial contributions to help make change happen. 

On the personal side, people should go through their daily actions and pick three or four things to stop doing that are bad for the environment. Whether it’s not continuing to support the dairy industry, finding a sustainable source of meat or even getting rid of a car and trading for the bus or a bike. 

“We have a long history of change,” Trese said. “There were things that seemed like they were never going to change, and then people organized, protested and became activists, which created the change. Look at women’s right to vote, civil rights issues and LGBTQ rights issues. History shows that if you get enough people on board saying, ‘This is what we want,’ then it’s bound to happen.”

Trese also believes the biggest issue in regards to becoming more environmentally conscious is the idea that the changes people need to make are big things, and not just little everyday things.

“Sometimes as humans we become frozen by thinking we can’t do a big thing, so we end up not doing anything,” Trese said. “In many people’s lives, part of the desire to help others is the fact that we want people to know we’re helping other people. It’s challenging for us to do the little things and just encourage others because we think it’s not enough, but in reality it means so much.”

Students are interested to see how the film takes the important issue of climate change and translates that into a lesson for the audience. 

Freshman Kayci Zamarelli is currently taking a plant biology class and is going to see The Human Element to get a wider sense of the subjects she learns about in class.

“Climate change is 100 percent a real issue in the world,” Zamarelli said. “It’s so important for people to be educated on the subject and to truly understand the magnitude of what’s happening. As individuals, it’s up to us to care for the world and protect what’s left, and I think getting people to watch movies like The Human Element is the first step into getting educated and starting a conversation that everyone should be having.”


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