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A Plastic Ocean, the Old Man, and the Sea

Eight years after it was first conceived, five years after production began, our adventure documentary A Plastic Ocean premiered on January 19, 2017. We were entering Inauguration Weekend. A few days earlier, Christian Amanpour, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent, shared news of the film in this report. “As climate skeptics prepare to move into the White House, a new documentary is trying to wake us up to the chilling reality of plastic’s effect on our oceans,” Amanpour declared.

A Plastic Ocean opened as the #1 documentary in the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

Our timing was poetic; now it is poetic again, unfortunately so. A Plastic Ocean will screen next week at the United Nations, just six days after President Trump withdrew U.S. participation from the Paris Climate Accord.

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Mr. Trump’s action is dangerous and upside-down, informed by a dystopic vision of our world in which (I kid you not) he stated that the U.S. is a “disadvantaged” nation. Tell that to 71% of the world’s population, who subsist on less than $10 a day. Our head of state practices authoritarian, Orwellian inversion with no remorse — tragic for our domestic policy, especially perilous for our planet.

Last week I screened A Plastic Ocean at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival. One audience member, who sits on major corporate boards, proclaimed, “This is the best environmental film ever made, and I am so happy it is not political.”

Thank you for the kind words, sir, but to be accurate, our film is not partisan. The film contends that the ocean transcends partisan divides. Our waters are the source of our lives; James Joyce called the sea our “great sweet mother.” And so, A Plastic Ocean is deeply political, political in the fundamental sense of the polis, the common place we inhabit, in that the film concerns common spaces and the common good, stewardship of which is our common responsibility.

On June 6 I will be joined at the United Nations by the film’s director, Craig Leeson, Plastic Oceans Foundation US Executive Director Julie Andersen, and an audience of 600 delegates, NGO leaders, scientists, and engaged citizens. We will screen a condensed, 22-minute version of the film, a version we prepared for educational use, and we’ll have a discussion that focuses on solutions and making common cause.

On that day, I will be present as a proud United States citizen, standing with the majority of people in this nation and the world, standing on the side of common good and on behalf of our planet; I will be standing against the Old Man and the regressive regime change he represents.

You may donate to the Plastic Oceans Foundation to support awareness and further distribution of the film.

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