The new WPSU documentary “Managing Risk in a Changing Climate,” isn’t technically a suspense film — it’s just that nobody is sure what’s going to happen next.
That has more or less been the point of the entire endeavor, the fruits of which will premiere at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night at The State Theatre.
WPSU produced the documentary in collaboration with the Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management (SCRiM), a research group connecting scholars from 19 different universities — centered at Penn State — and five research institutes from across the globe.
If you don’t know what’s going to happen, if you don’t know how bad it’s going to be, how do you prepare?
What kind of mischief does a group like as this get into together? Why, exploring sustainable, scientifically sound, technologically feasible, economically efficient and ethically defensible climate risk-management strategies, of course.
“This is a problem faced by many communities around the world,” Klaus Keller, director of SCRiM and a professor of geosciences at Penn State, said.
It’s also a problem that is a lot more visual than it sounds. The filmmakers decided to turn their cameras on coastal Louisiana, where communities like New Orleans still have to contend with the realities of rising sea levels and sinking land.
Director Kristian Berg said that he worked with researchers to determine the best way to illustrate the kind of intricate problem-solving that goes into developing a working climate strategy.
“If you don’t know what’s going to happen, if you don’t know how bad it’s going to be, how do you prepare?,” Berg said.
If you understand what’s going on, maybe that’s an important step.
The finished documentary explores a few of the methods — like mechanized marsh creation or the replanting of cyprus swaps — which have been employed to combat changing climates. According to Keller, the overall success of these strategies will be determined by their ability to adapt in the face of new information.
He hopes that the documentary helps audiences gain a better understanding of the ways in which scientists are doing exactly that.
“If you understand what’s going on, maybe that’s an important step,” Keller said.
Following the screening, Keller and Berg will participate in a question-and-answer panel discussion with Penn State scientists Richard Alley and Erica Smithwick.
Tuesday’s premiere at The State Theatre is free and open to the public. Those planning on catching the documentary at home can tune into WPSU at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.