The world needs optimists. Optimists like Rob Stewart: writer, director and narrator of the new documentary Revolution about the state of the world’s environmental health.
Revolution premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2012, and has been received well. In fact, it had the highest opening weekend of any Canadian documentary. Rob and his team are heading to Cannes in a few weeks to try to get wider international distribution.
They want the movie to be seen by at least 1 Billion people.
As opposed to just another droning eco-lecture, Revolution is a great travelogue, and thus adventurous and relatable. It still contains a lot of unique wildlife and marine life footage, along with powerful messages throughout.
It covers a lot of important topics: coral reef destruction, species extinction, the loss of biodiversity, ocean acidification, air and ocean pollution, and tar sand refining – all incredibly important and urgent matters. But is that enough? Don’t we have all the information we can take?
Of course, that’s not all there is. Rob founded an organization called United Conservationists, working to mobilize the public, and especially inform, educate and engage children and young people to take action and participate in conservation efforts on a number of issues, including overfishing, habitat loss, extinction, deforestation – basically, any leading destructive activities that are contributing to the environmental crisis of our generation.
The documentaries and the campaigns have had other positive effects, such as creating a positive and caring global community of people who are dedicated and focused on education, networking and activism. A community of the future.
Previously, Rob wrote, directed and starred in his first documentary, Sharkwater, which, like Revolution, is a powerful film on the dangers of marine life around the globe. As an award-winning wildlife photographer for the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s magazine, he traversed our planet’s oceans and coasts and highlighted the threats that are engendering the world’s shark population. He then campaigned for the ban of shark fin soup, a delicacy in China, which has lead to the decline of sharks (shark fins are the only part of the shark used for the soup; the rest of the body is thrown back into the sea, wasted). The decline in shark numbers affect the entire marine life network because all the species and the habitat are intricately linked.
Over the years, since Sharkwater’s release in 2006, Rob and his team have lead a crusade and witnessed some major policy changes and laws in conservation, such as entire countries banning the slaughter of sharks, and, in some cases, entirely banning fin soup.
When you travel to exotic countries, you can try local delicacies, and it’s fine within limits, he says, as they are a part of the travel experience. But know that travel can still be immensely rewarding, even better, without harming something in return for your own personal indulgence, such as exotic species or the nature.
Having been almost continuously on the road for the past 4 years, doing research for the film, filming and campaigning on pressing issues, Rob said that he is looking to take some time off after he finishes the Revolution tour. Because this is a prevalent subject (and do activists ever stop ‘working’?) I asked him if he still ever travels just for fun, to relax, to explore, or is it always for a purpose? No, he still likes to get away from it all. But he does it consciously because he is aware of his environmental impact, as we should all be.
If we all, collectively, decide to make it our priority to act responsibly, we will influence and inspire each other. We will fly less, drive less, shop less, eat less animal products, we will reuse and redistribute our stuff, we will stop using plastic bags, we will turn off air-conditioning, and so on. Small steps, individual steps do matter.
Consumption is still a BIG problem. And if we can’t bring a positive change in our lifetime, with our generation, it’s all done for. Oops, I shouldn’t have said this, he told me to approach the issue from a more positive perspective.
So, what does he suggest?
- Spread a positive message
- Exercise a constructive and balanced perspective
- Take the respectful approach
- Build awareness by working with, not against
- Motivate, do not scold
- Encourage, do not reprimand
What’s done is done, but current solutions and proactive changes can, and will make a difference. Revolution Movie is playing in a theatre near you.
Written for, and published on Travel Culture Mag.