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Film review: Village at the End of the World

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Climate change is likely to bring about massive transformations unless we act to create a more sustainable society. The developing world is least culpable for the mess we’re in, but most at risk by the impacts. The people of Greenland, in particular, know how unjust this fact is.

Village at the End of the World, a documentary film by Met Film Production, opens up the lives of Greenland’s largely Inuit population who live in the most remote settlement in the world: Niaqornat.

The film opens with a number of children’s faces locked on their a teacher. We are invited into their lesson about Genesis, the first chapter in the Bible.

“One day God appeared and said to Noah, I will send a flood to wipe out all living things from the face of the Earth.”

Brief snapshots of the Inuits’ lives follow, showcasing how a community of just 59 individuals gets by. A team of men pull a shark onto the shore; young adults learn how to gut seals; and children collect stones whilst groups of huskies and malamutes howl up the ice whipped sky.

Life feels slow; parents’ faces fill with concern; children sit restless. Something has happened within the village; something has hindered their community spirit.

“As the sea levels rose, all of the people and animals tried to escape to higher ground. Finally there was no Earth or people to be seen.”

The school teacher writes on the board, “What is our future?

Sarah Gavron, director of the documentary, explores this question in The Village at the End of the World, and finds that the answer could well be an unsettling one.

Admittedly, it’s hard to imagine a sad life here. The village is picturesque; something out of a dream. Quaint houses are covered in blue, yellow and red paint. Large, dry mountains surround the village, and where the mountains stop, cold water and vast ice caps take over.

But we find out that the village is at risk. The heart of the community, a fish factory, has been shut down, forcing locals into unemployment and making their sheer existence a struggle.

Families are moving to the nearest towns, in the hope of finding work, pushing Niaqornat further into danger. If the village’s population falls below 50, the entire community may have to be relocated.

The film ties together the lives of three warming, diverse characters. The first to be introduced is Ane Kruse, the oldest woman in the village. She lets viewers into the changing life of the Inuits, explaining how a village that once operated on nothing more than burning seal and whale blubber and community spirit, had slowly dissolved into families scattered across towns.

She admits that she is scared of being left behind; abandoned.

The next inhabitant we meet is Lars, who makes it clear how the village makes for a very lonely life for teenagers.  There are no internet cafes or restaurants or many girls, he explains; just the shop in which he works.

This simple life is reflected within the answers that the school children provide when asked about their career desires. Most said, “Working at the shop.” Other answers included becoming fisherman and one wanted to become a pilot. The teacher’s reply to the latter was that the child would need to leave the village to achieve such a goal.

Lars also explains how suicide in the village had increased, while showing viewers a music video of a group of rappers expressing the difficulties of Greenland life.

He is poised by Google maps: a blessing yet a burden that shows him the wonders of New York. His eyes are fixated on the brightly lit advertisements, people dodging between yellow taxis, suits, briefcases and a never-ending line of restaurants and bars.

The western world has showcased to Lars that he can have more, and its heavy influence is branded across his t-shirts and through his choice of music. It has fed his unhappiness in life; it has made him want more and want better.

Another life we follow is that of Ilanngauq, an outsider who moved into the village after meeting his wife online. We follow his journey as a sewage collector. He is another one concerned for the village’s future and said in the film, “If the village continues with its resources, it will run out. The village will close down.”

We see his life turn around, though. Capable of speaking both English and Danish, he acts as tour guide to the cruise ships that bring tourists into the community. This represents a glimmer of hope for the village, with tourists purchasing seal fur lined purses and hand painted plates.

Hunting is still the main driving factor behind the survival of the village, where hunters are said to “travel the waters not knowing if they would return.”

But the impacts of climate change have taken their toll on hunting in Niaqornat. The ice has become so thin that it’s now extremely hard and increasingly dangerous.

“The ice has become much thinner, so hunters are losing their lives”, says Ane. She explains how seeing polar bears was once a regular occurrence; but not anymore.

The villagers’ chance of getting valuable food resources has become hindered by the disappearing frozen sea ice.

Throughout the documentary, we see the village spirit ignite, pitching together to save the fish factory – in a fight to allow the community to become its shareholders. They wrestle for the heart of their community to pump once again.

You’ll have to watch the film for yourself to see if they succeed or not.

The Village at the End of the World is out today (Friday May 10) in UK cinemas. See here for screenings near you.

Further reading:

Chasing Ice: climate change portrayed in devastatingly beautiful fashion

Thin Ice: inside climate science

How old is the climate change debate?

Government ‘must listen’ to chief scientific adviser on climate change

‘We need to tackle the root causes of inequality and poverty’

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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