What do you want the future to look like? What do you hope it holds for the planet?
Greta Thunberg, Pope Francis, and numerous other leaders in the global environmental movement are asking viewers to consider these questions in a new, fast-motion short film called “Imagine for 1 Minute” by the filmmakers the McGloughlin brothers and sponsored by Conservation International, Avaaz, the World Wildlife Fund, and other environmental groups.
The film features a series of rapidly changing natural landscapes and human faces to give the sense that they’re blending together. This oneness is then reinforced by the shared narration of the film.
The cast of narrators briefly summarizes the challenges the world faces and then guides viewers toward a more hopeful idea of the future.
“How do we protect nature and save our shared home?” some of the narrators, including Thunberg, say together. “Picture that future you want. Now open your eyes. It’s time to talk about the future we want.”
The hopeful message follows a series of devastating reports about the state of the world’s biodiversity and worsening climate change. The World Wildlife Fund recently reported that more than 21,000 animal populations have declined by an average of 68% since 1970; while the UN has said that countries have failed to achieve the 20 goals of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set in 2010.
Without urgent intervention at all levels of society, the planet will continue to deteriorate. But a worsening climate crisis is not inevitable. The solution to the problem is right in front of us — ending greenhouse gas emissions and moving beyond an economic model that over exploits the environment.
That’s why the film is calling on people to imagine a better future and break away from a status quo that’s like “sleepwalking into catastrophe,” according to the World Economic Forum.
Shyla Raghav, vice president of climate change at Conservation International, told Global Citizen that the film echoes the personal reflection that has taken place amid the COVID-19 pandemic as people stay at home and economies pause. She said that this period of reflection can extend to the climate movement as well.
“Oftentimes, there’s this sense of individual paralysis narrative around climate change that’s focused on despair and hopelessness,” Raghav said. “We want people to think about how we can take this pause moment in time to envision and ultimately create a future that is more healthy, more resilient, and more just.”
The film includes individuals who have risen up to start movements, inspire political change, and force the world to reckon with the starkness of climate change.
Few people embody the power of the individual more than Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish climate activist who has inspired a legion of youth activists around the world to protest until countries stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The film ultimately suggests that everyone can take action to heal the planet, whether that’s by taking part in ecosystem rehabilitation projects, joining climate protests, calling on legislators to pass climate action bills, or raising awareness throughout their communities.
“What we want to convey here is how much potency and how much power an individual can have in shifting our collective consciousness,” Raghav added. “I think that institutions, governments, are a reflection of our individual consciousness and the only way we can create institutions that better reflect the future we want is with individual change.”
Raghav also hopes that people take the film’s invitation to dream big, to reimagine human society entirely.
“We need to shift from a culture of exploitation and extraction towards one of restoration and regeneration,” she said. “Our economy needs to be circular. It needs to not depend on consumption and extraction”
Moving beyond the climate crisis will be difficult, but Raghav also highlighted that empowering Indigneous communities can help us once again achieve harmony with the planet.
“It’s a matter of acknowledgement and giving Indigenous people their rights and the resources to be able to continue their tradition of stewarding land,” she said. “We should think of them as the leaders and us as learning from them, rather than the other way around, which has been the precedent of the past few centuries.”