Texas Tech University

Groundbreaking Documentary Heats Up the Climate Change Debate Across the Globe

Hannah Fields

May 4, 2018

Since its national March 2017 premiere, “Between Earth and Sky” has set many viewers abuzz with timely discussions of climate change and more.

Since its national March 2017 premiere at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. as part of the Environmental Film Festival, "Between Earth and Sky" has set many viewers abuzz with timely discussions of climate change and more.

The groundbreaking documentary, which is the product of the scientific and creative efforts of professor David C. Weindorf, Texas Tech Public Television General Manager Paul Allen Hunton and their teams, explores the importance of Alaskan arctic soils and how changes to that soil could soon move across the globe.

Over the past year, its message has been shared across the US and worldwide. Domestically, Weindorf has conducted direct screenings of the documentary for more than 4,000 people, with many of the screenings taking place in local movie theatres and university campuses. The documentary has also aired on PBS in 15 states, including major markets such a Portland, San Francisco and New York City. Internationally, "Between Earth and Sky" has been shown in Cambridge (England), Vienna (Austria) and Ancona (Italy).

In fact, it was at the screening in Vienna that Weindorf said he experienced one of the most poignant moments in his scientific career. During a Q&A conducted after the film, a man in the audience questioned how a documentary such as this held any relevancy when the United States has pulled out from the Paris Agreement (COP 21). In his response, Weindorf explained that the decisions of lawmakers do not always reflect the work of a country's scientific community.

"I was in front of 200 people and you could've heard a pin drop," Weindorf said. "I told him: We, as scientists and academics, stand on the side of scientific truth and there is no debate in the scientific community as to whether or not this is a real phenomenon. We know this is happening. So, politics, whatever you want to say about that you can, but I'm a scientist and I can tell you what science says. I feel firmly committed to that."

"Between Earth and Sky" has also been the official selection of several film festivals including the Colorado Environment Film Festival, the Arctic Film Festival, the Flatlands Film Festival, the Anchorage International Film Festival, and the Roswell Film Festival. However, those wanting to view the documentary don't have to set up a screening or attend a film festival to see it. "Between Earth and Sky" is available for purchase or rent through iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

As things begin to wind down, Weindorf said that he and his team are not actively working on the project any longer, but will be maintaining the documentary's website that has an available link for those interested in setting up a screening. As a non-profit educational venture, all funds from future screenings and purchases will go into maintenance costs associated with the project, such as promotion.

When asked if there might be more projects like this to come, Weindorf said that he and Hunton have a few ideas for a follow-up project, but are waiting to find the necessary funding from a philanthropic organization that would like to assist in conveying their message.

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