“The Anthropologist” makes students aware of climate change

Martina Frasca

On Thursday, Feb. 13,  during common hour, a screening of the documentary film “The Anthropologist,” which focuses on the far-reaching effects of climate change, was shown in the Atrium auditorium.

The event was organized by the University Galleries, after having artist Marion Wilson develop an exhibit called “Landscape is Sanctuary to Our Fears,” which shows how the environment is changing due to various factors of climate change and the artist’s relationship to water and environments of her childhood.

Kristen Evangelista, who is the Gallery Director, wanted to do more events involving climate change following the exhibit to give students more of an understanding of the topic. Screening “The Anthropologist” was an idea proposed by Dr. Marianne Sullivan, who is in the Public Health Department of William Paterson University and does research on environmental health.

“Climate change is already affecting human health due to extreme heat, severe storms, changes in patterns of infectious diseases, and other factors,” said Sullivan. “It is predicted to have very significant effects on human health in the coming decades, so it is a topic that I want my students to understand thoroughly. I thought the film might help in this educational process and also make the impacts of climate change on people more understandable.”

The film follows environmental anthropologist Susie Crate and her daughter Katie visiting communities in different countries, such as Siberia, Kiribati, Peru and the U.S are being affected by climate change and are put into crisis situations.

In the Sakha Republic of Siberia, people rely on hay to raise their animals. Due to the temperature rising, the permafrost under the soil is melting, making hay fields flood and making the land go underwater.

The Kiribati islands in the South Pacific are only a few feet above sea level. The threat of sea-level rising puts their lives, villages, and plantations at risk. If nothing changes, their homeland will be underwater.

In Huaraz, Peru, people rely on their tropical glaciers as a source of water. As the Earth warms, the glaciers are losing their mass of ice. People direct the water to canals to run into their fields. Farmers are growing crops higher and higher and there is not much higher they could go.

The climate change that is happening affects how these people live. As the planet changes, many adjustments need to be made. Many people will need to find alternative ways of living and different ways to do things. There will be a cultural transformation for many communities.

There is a possibility that these people will have to leave their homeland, which means separating from their society, language, diversity, and culture.

The film also features Mary Catherine, who is the daughter of the renowned anthropologist,  Margaret Mead. Catherine reflects on what her mother did and the lessons she taught her growing up.

“Hopefully events Marion Wilson’s exhibit and the film can help start a conversation about what we can do to advocate for more action on climate change from local, state and federal governments and also to think more about ways that we can get involved in solutions or adaptation to climate change in our own communities,” said Sullivan.