By Jerilynn Tucker, Sustainability Film Series
What happens when the masters of spin, of the distortion and misrepresentation of information, go to work on public threats like toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, or climate change?
Confusion and doubt.
And that’s the point, as explored in the film “Merchants of Doubt,” set to screen Tuesday, Feb. 25, at Grave’s Hall on Hope’s campus. Described as “a satirically comedic, yet illuminating ride into the heart of conjuring American spin,” the film has been honored at major national and international film festivals.
It is part of the Free Film Series promoting a sustainable approach to our environment and offered through a collaboration of the Hope College Green Team, Hope Student Activities Committee, Macatawa Creation Care, Citizens Climate Lobby, and the League of Women Voters of the Holland Area.
The series seeks to inform and encourage the public to get involved in helping move our local economy towards a sustainable future. The event begins at 6:30 with networking and collaboration among citizens interested in creation care, sustainability and clean energy. The film screening is at 7 p.m.
A panel discussion afterwards will include Hope College professors Dr. David Myers, Dr. Lauren Hearit, Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger, and Dr. Greg Murray, bringing perspectives from their fields of psychology, communications, religion and biology.
The film reveals how, even as the U.S. led the world in research on public health issues, a loose-knit group of high-level, politically connected scientists campaigned to spread doubt and confusion. Even as some scientists uncovered truths about the dangers of DDT, tobacco, acid rain and global warming, these “merchants of doubt” spread disinformation to the American public over a period of four decades.
The movie is based on the widely read, highly praised book “Merchants of Doubt,” published in 2010 by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. Oreskes has a Ph.D. in geology and the history of science and is professor of history and science studies at Harvard University. Her work came to public attention in 2004 with the publication of “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” in the magazine Science, in which she wrote that there was no significant disagreement in the scientific community about the reality of global warming from human causes.
Erik M. Conway has a Ph.D in history and is the historian at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
The final movie in the series for the 2019-20 year, on March 31, will be “WALL-E” a PIXAR and Disney film that topped Time’s list of the Best Movies of the Decade in 2008. The movie, great for children and adults, follows a solitary trash compactor robot left to clean up garbage on a future, uninhabitable Earth.
Jerilynn Tucker is a member of the Holland Area Chapter of the League of Women Voters, the Citizens Climate Lobby, and the film series planning committee. The retired school psychologist at Holland Public School has had a long-time interest in social and environmental justice.
If You Go: Sustainability Film Series
What: The film “Merchants of Doubt”
When: 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 25
Where: Hope College Graves Hall, 263 College Ave., Holland
Next Film: “WALL-E” on March 31
This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.