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Friday, February 20, 2009

Filmmakers take viewers under water for an eco-lesson

It's better down here where it's wetter
Filmmakers take viewers under water for an eco-lesson

By Katherine Monk, Canwest News Service February 19, 2009

You might think Howard Hall is a little light-headed from all the helium mixtures and recycled air he's been breathing for the past 20 years, but the world's most respected filmmaker in flippers is dead serious when he says we're playing with extinction.

"We've seen dramatic decreases in large fish populations around the world. The habitats are threatened, the oceans are warmer and we've been overfishing too long. Over the years, these shifts have been tremendous, but we can't see them on land because all the evidence is under water -- where only a few people have the privilege of bearing witness to the devastation," he says, smiling.

"It's important to educate people about what's happening in these environments because so much of what we take for granted comes from the ocean, and not just fish -- but all manner of natural life. It's the ocean that absorbs most of the greenhouse gases, but even at that, they're close to absorbing all the CO2 they can. We're closing in on the point of no return."

Hall has seen the devastation up close. Over the past decade, he's watched coral reefs bleach out and die. He's witnessed the dramatic decline in shark populations thanks to the growing popularity of shark fin soup. He's also seen the media deflecting the blame away from modern technology and human causes, and back to the natural world.

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