“The Simpsons” tackles hydraulic fracturing

“Fracking?! That sounds like scary Lisa language!” – Homer Simpson

 

In its 26th and final season, The Simpsons isn’t finished fighting yet. The show continues to push (and frequently mock) the boundaries of distributor Fox, addressing hot-button issues like natural gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing.

In S26Ep5, Homer must endure hosting his despised sisters-in-law, Patty and Selma, and installs smoke detectors all over the house to catch the chain smokers damaging the kids’ lungs. They seek refuge in the bathroom – turning on the sink for a cover – and when they light up – BOOM! The bathroom explodes, and Lisa starts digging into why their house’s water would catch on fire.

Lisa pulls out her tablet and flips through a list of depressing environmental documentaries she’s seen before settling on a “Simpsonsfied” version of Josh Fox’s Gasland.

Lisa Simpson is a great viewer of tense environmental issue films

Lisa Simpson is a great viewer of tense environmental issue films

Lisa finds out it’s none other than C. Montgomery Burns behind the fracking, and writes her favorite State Assemblywoman, Maxine Lumbard (voiced by Jane Fonda), who goes after “his exxxcccelency” Burns. In turn, Burns gives Homer a promotion and a flannel shirt to convince the community why they should sell their mineral rights so Burns can continue fracking under their neighborhood.

Throughout the episode, however, Marge is heavily hit by the scary thought of what fracking has done to her family’s water. Her refrain: “Our water was on fire.”

Ignoring the lure of money, the hype of creating jobs, and even the detailed explanations of Professor (HOIYVEN-KLAYVEN) Frink, Marge saves her family from a fracking-induced earthquake, and convinces Homer to heed the omen of flammable water:

The episode, “Opposites A-Frack” is a strong reminder that sometimes the clear signs of unnatural balance are hard to ignore – even if they must be shouted over an earthquake caused by blasting rock formations with water to squeeze out drops of profit. Fracking has dangerous and unknown consequences – even Homer Simpson gets it.

Watch the full episode on Hulu

Mindless Mining – The Tragedy of Kudremukh

Description:

At the heart of the stunning rainforest and grassland ecosystem of the Kudremukh National Park in south India, a huge Government-owned iron ore mining operation stripped the hills bare for over 20 years. Every year, heavy monsoon rains washed enormous quantities of loose soil from the mined slopes into the Bhadra River, leading to siltation on a massive scale. Floods caused by the silted river overflowing its banks used to leave a thick sludge of iron ore on the fields of farmers cultivating along its banks, greatly reducing the fertility of the soil and their crop yields. This disastrous mining project was one of the
most horrific examples of bad land use and environmental destruction.

With its lease having run out, the mining company had applied for, and been assured of, a renewal of their lease for another 20 years. Such a renewal would have meant the opening up of new areas of pristine forests to mining, resulting in the destruction of the Thunga River that also originates in these hills. Mindless Mining – the tragedy of Kudremukh was made on a shoestring budget as a pro bono film to support an advocacy campaign by Wildlife First, a Bangalore based conservation NGO.

Positive results:

The film, which portrays both the beauty of Kudremukh and the havoc caused by 20 years of opencast mining, played a pivotal role in turning the tide of public and political opinion against the continuation of mining in this fragile ecosystem. The film was also submitted as supporting evidence to the Indian Supreme Court, which was hearing a Public Interest Petition against the continuation of mining filed by Wildlife First. In October 2002, in an unprecedented judgment, the Supreme Court ordered the closure of the iron ore mining operation in Kudremukh by 2005. Since then, the mined slopes have started showing signs of recovery and the tracks of tigers and other wildlife are being noticed in the abandoned mining area.

Contact/Links:

Producer: Shekar Dattatri
Duration: 12 minutes
Format: MINI DV Country:
India Production Year: 2001
www.shekardattatri.com

By Jason Peters

 

Ancient Forests: Rage Over Trees

Ancient Forest: Rage Over Trees

Ancient Forest: Rage Over Trees

Description:

In 1989, Chris Palmer and Jim Lipscombe made Ancient Forests: Rage Over Trees for the National Audubon Society and Turner Broadcasting. It was hosted by actor Paul Newman and highlighted a protracted battle over logging on publicly owned forests in the United States. At issue were 3 million acres of ancient, or old-growth, forests in the Northwest that were being clear-cut at the rate of 60,000 acres a year-and the fate of the 30,000 workers who made their living by cutting them.

When advance word got out about the film’s content, it led to a logging-industry boycott of the corporate sponsors, all of whom pulled their support for the film in the face of big-industry intimidation. But Ted Turner broadcast the film anyway. To him, and to those like Palmer and Lipscombe who had created the film, conservation was more important than making money. Articles about the controversy appeared in major newspapers all across the country.

Positive results:

The film played a pivotal role in convincing the U.S. Forest Service not to log a beautiful Oregon watershed called Opal Creek, full of centuries-old fir, hemlock, and cedar. Audubon and Turner lost a lot of money, but saved a forest. Thanks to the film, Opal Creek was eventually designated as a wilderness area and thus firmly protected from logging.

Other Achievements:

In 1993, author David Seideman wrote a lengthy book of investigative journalism called Showdown at Opal Creek in which he spent several years interviewing all the key people involved in the controversy. Seideman’s book made the case convincingly that it was the documentary Ancient Forests: Rage Over Trees which was seminal in leading to the federal legislation protecting Opal Creek. It wouldn’t have happened without the film.

Contact/Links:

Host: Paul Newman
Producer: James Lipscomb
Producer: John Lipscomb
Executive Producer: Chris Palmer

Email: palmer@american.edu Web: http://www.american.edu/soc/cef/
National Audubon Society: http://www.audubon.org/
Turner Broadcasting System: http://turner.com/
Ted Turner: http://www.tedturner.com/home.asp

Online references: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1815587/
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/audubon_video_ancient_forests_rage_over_trees/#want_to_see
http://tv.nytimes.com/show/40036/Ancient-Forests-Rage-Over-Trees/overview
http://tv.yahoo.com/ancient-forests-rage-over-trees/show/2403/castcrew
http://www.locatetv.com/tv/world-of-audubon/1201293
http://osulibrary.oregonstate.edu/video/for10.html

By Jason Peters

Amazon Sells Whale Meat

Description:

Language: English

Running time: 52 seconds

Conceived as a short, high-impact campaign film with the potential to go viral, Amazon Sells Whale Meat accompanied the release of the Environmental Investigation Agency report Amazon.com’s Unpalatable Profits on February 21, 2012.

The film is loosely structured after the opening sequence of 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, replacing the high-pitched sound of a camera flashbulb recharging with a burst of whale song as a prelude to footage of the bloody reality of whaling, juxtaposing images of a mother and daughter viewing Amazon Japan pages of seemingly innocuous cetacean food products with images including the killing of pilot whales in the Taiji drive hunt and a fin whale being landed in Iceland.

Positive results:

Within hours of the campaign’s launch, the film was viewed thousands of times via a multitude of internet news sites and blogs, Facebook and Twitter which either embedded the film or linked to it.

Helping to spur tens of thousands of consumers to take action by protesting directly to Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos via emails, a petition, Tweets and postings on Amazon’s Facebook page, the film played a key role in speedily raising awareness of both the issue and the campaign.

In less than 24 hours, Amazon had contacted the vendors of cetacean products on Amazon Japan and all products were withdrawn.

Video Success: Amazon Removes Whale Meat

Contact/Links:

Produced by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA International)

Edited/Directed – Paul Redman
Written – Paul Newman
Website: http://www.eia-international.org
EIA Action Alert: http://www.eia-international.org/action-alert-tell-amazon-to-ban-all-whale-products
See ‘Amazon whale meat campaign: going behind the scenes: http://www.eia-international.org/amazon-whale-meat-campaign-behind-the-scenes

By Jason Peters