“Drop in the Ocean? Ireland and Climate Change” is one of the most poignant climate change documentaries released in 2015. Produced by the Irish charity organization Trocaire, the film uniquely pinpoints Ireland’s actions as having far-reaching effects in the climate change crisis. The 27-minute-long production focuses specifically on Ireland as the effecting and Ethiopia as the effected, but it succinctly demonstrates—albeit from one perspective—how our actions around the world are amounting to a great danger.
The documentary opens with a slideshow of powerful scenes, spanning from flooded neighborhoods to streets flooded with protesters. The emphasis on crowded and polluted cities suggests the tone of the documentary is one that condemns human life as part of the climate change problem. This tone is furthered by a stirring piano piece overlaid with sound bites of world leaders and environmental activists asking for change. The music and images that inundate the audience at the beginning of the documentary may seem melodramatic, but they keep the viewers interested.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this documentary is the focus on contrasting views between figures of authority and average citizens. Environmental activists and affiliated organizations—Bill McKibben and the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) in particular—have no need to question the existence of climate change; they provide facts about the already-occurring phenomenon. McKibben discusses increasing carbon dioxide levels, whereas WWF shows that bird life is being threatened with extinction. The citizens interviewed, on the other hand, are not so adamant about the inevitability of global warming. Some enjoy the warm weather, and many deny their impact in the global climate change crisis. While these street interviews may make the documentary more relatable to the audience, receiving facts about what we are overlooking should scare us into thinking about our actions.
If the ethos of interviewing multiple climate change experts isn’t enough to convince the audience, Trocaire takes its filming from the streets of Ireland to the impoverished land of Ethiopia. Trocaire’s Executive Director Eamonn Meehan says, “Each Irish person is responsible for as much carbon emissions as 88 Ethiopians,” and this statement is astounding, especially when poor, earnest Ethiopian farmers are interviewed. This squalid state of humanity compared to the wastefulness of the Irish is not only confined to these two societies—people everywhere are suffering from the effects of climate change, even if they are not as responsible as other nations.
Overall this documentary is short but impactful. Through powerful music and images of those who are suffering, the audience can see how fragile life really is. Trocaire stresses that we need to realize our role in the climate change crisis before it’s too late, or the world we inhabit may shatter. All it takes is for us to be a little more conscious.
Watch this documentary for yourself here.