The Exposure Labs documentary Chasing Coral was released on Netflix last week, demonstrating with timelapse photography how climate change is destroying our underwater ecosystems.
The facts in the film speak for themselves. The 2016-2017 global coral bleaching event resulted in the death of 29% of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral. Only by June 2017 could the National Oceanic and Atomspheric Administration announce that this 3rd Global event was finally showing signs of slowing down.
Having watched the film myself, I have to admit to feeling a sense of helplessness. The filmmakers’ skill in creating timelapse images such as those in the XL Catlin Seaview Survey tweet below, do not cover periods of years or decades. This bleaching takes weeks and happened right before the eyes of a dedicated team of divers, ecologists and documentary makers.
Imagine walking through a forest and more than a quarter of the trees simply wither and die, leaving just a petrified skeleton behind.
Richard Vevers, the former advertising executive and director of the XL Catlin Seaview Survey told CNN in a recent interview – “it’s as much about trying to communicate the science as doing the science itself”
The XL Catlin Seaview Survey is the insurer’s second major scientific sponsorship, following the three Arctic Surveys held between 2009 – 2011 that investigated the impacts of changes to the Arctic Ocean. “The company believes that insurers must take a leading role in improving our understanding of potential changes to our environment. These changes could affect how insurance risks are managed in the future,” it says.
XL Catlin’s contribution is to sponsor independent, impartial research that is freely distributed to the world’s scientific community. Other organisations like Insurance Europe have also backed industry action on climate change.
For example, in the run-up to the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris in December 2015, Insurance Europe ran its public “target two degrees” campaign. The continental insurance and reinsurance federation gathered over 2 000 signatories to the campaign, pledging their support for world leaders to agree to take action to limit the effects of climate change to below 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures.
The COP21 agreement was ratified and became legally enforceable in November 2016, but the Donald Trump administration has now withdrawn from it.
The recent US federal budget resulted in withdrawals of funding for numerous climate change research programmes. Perhaps it is time for industries with a vested interest, like (re)insurance to fill the gap left by a President who calls Climate Change “a hoax” .