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Film explores attitudes to climate change ‘tipping points’

14 Jul 2010

A provocative new film asks internationally renowned climate experts, global campaigners and environmental activists to assess the value of issuing climate change deadlines, ultimatums and points of no return.

Beyond the Tipping Point is a film by Dr Stefan Skrimshire
Beyond the Tipping Point is a film by Dr Stefan Skrimshire

Called ‘Beyond the Tipping Point?’, produced and directed by Dr Stefan Skrimshire from The University of Manchester, the work is launched this week (15 July) at the University’s Manchester Museum.

Interviews include a Met Office international climate expert, Bangladeshi social justice campaigners; Plane Stupid activists, Buddhist leaders and protestors at last year’s UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

In addition to the film - which will be seen for free in schools, universities and community centres - a book called "Future Ethics: Climate Change and Apocalyptic Imagination" edited by Dr Skrimshire, is published by Continuum later this month.

The film and book are the result of a three year research project funded by the Lincoln Theological Institute, based in the University’s School of Arts, Histories and Cultures.

Some of the contributors argue that ‘shock and awe’ will force the public to take action. Others say activists must be more careful in the way they communicate.

Also discussed are why so many people are disinterested or think we aren’t able to change our behaviour to combat climate change.

One interviewee argues that the fight has been lost – so we should focus our attention on adapting our neighbourhoods to combat the unavoidable effects of rising temperatures.

Dr Skrimshire, from The University of Manchester said: “This film forces viewers to confront these important issues – perhaps for the first time.”

“But it is not another film about the science or the facts about global warming, nor is it a manifesto for taking a particular course of action.

“Rather, it is an attempt to probe the deeper questions that allow us to make sense of our decisions.

He added: The film asks what people actually mean when claiming it is ‘too late’, whether it be for the human species, civilization, or simply the lifestyles to which we have become accustomed”.

“Do the apocalyptic tipping points we all read about generate despair, or galvanise political responses to crises?”

The film ends with three “futures” described by 11-year-old Maria Colares who lives in the Amazon region of Brazil.

Either the Amazon, she says, will have clean air for its inhabitants, or polluted and undrinkable water.

Her final future is a world so polluted, the only option will be to find another planet to live on.

Notes for editors

A DVD of the film is available by contacting Stefan Skrimshire at


For media enquiries contact:

Mike Addelman
Media Relations
Faculty of Humanities
The University of Manchester
0161 275 0790
07717 881567