Terry Spahr Screens Documentary at European Sustainability Gathering
While most of us in the United States were gearing up for the Memorial Day weekend, Earth Overshoot Executive Director Terry Spahr was screening his documentary, 8 Billion Angels, for some of the 2,500 “CityChangers” from 400 cities around the world attending the Urban Future Global Conference (UFGC) in Oslo, Norway. The event, which launched in 2014, is Europe’s largest event for sustainable cities and emphasizes its belief that the best hope for solving urban challenges are people, not technology, driving positive change.
After screening 8 Billion Angels at the Vega Scene theater, Spahr took part in a filmmaker Q&A, during which he shared his inspiration for making the documentary, and stressed the need for “CityChangers” to factor in population when formulating emission-reduction strategies. The audience responded with questions about the role of “efficiencies” in achieving sustainability, as well as praise for the film’s emphasis on family planning, girls education and women’s empowerment.
“Innovative and forward-thinking people are putting their heart and energy into projects to make our cities better places to live in – for us and for future generations. Let’s listen to them, share their ideas and start acting,” said Gerald Babel-Sutter, Founder and CEO of the UFGC.
UFGC was created to foster the exchange of ideas between cities, to establish a set of best practices and to spur innovation, cooperation and competition. Some of the more interesting titles of conference sessions included, “We’re so fu**ing late: status of our CO2 reduction efforts”; “Scrap the chatter: Getting the job done!” and “Cutting emissions: leadership makes the difference.”
“One of the concepts that I tried to help the CityChangers present understand,” said Spahr, “is that efficiencies and the technologies that create them can only go so far and often result in greater growth into and depletion of the natural reserves that sustain us as a planet.”
For instance, although fuel-efficient cars burn less gasoline per mile, the lower cost at the pump tends to encourage extra driving. There’s also an indirect rebound effect as drivers use the money they save on gasoline to buy other things that cause more material and resource extraction and produce other greenhouse emissions, like new electronic gadgets or vacation trips on fuel-burning planes.