Shattered Sky

Reviewed by: Julie Bélanger
Categories: Air Quality

Shattered Sky \ Steve Dorst and Dan Evans
Official traielr

Back in the days of big ol’ lacquered hair, aka the 1980s, the United States led the charge on saving the ozone, responding to damage caused in part by the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) found in hairspray and other aerosols, as well as refrigerants. In Shattered Sky, Dorst and Evans argue this experience provides a perfect model for tackling climate change.

An eerie sense of familiarity washes over you as you take in the footage of former presidents speaking of the perils of inaction, while industry lobbyists question the science and validity of banning CFCs with equally strong language. Any suspicions are confirmed by Michael Oppenheimer: “It carried some of the same hallmarks of the recent campaign that was funded by fossil fuel interests to undermine the science behind climate change.” Oppenheimer, a senior scientist at Environmental Defence Fund (1981-1996) is one of the many experts who appear in Shattered Sky.

CFCs and fossil fuels alike revolutionized the American economy and lifestyle. However, the direct impacts and health implications of ozone depletion were tangible. Most people still have a hard time seeing those links with climate change, explains Susan Solomon, senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The loudest public outcry since the Vietnam War led to the creation of the Montreal Protocol in 1987 and its enforcement in 1989. This regulated the phasing-out of CFCs and eventually enabled stratospheric ozone rebuilding. It is the first international agreement to address a global environmental problem and is widely recognized as an enormous success and stepping-stone.

Lessons to be learned from the Montreal Protocol include the importance of clear goals and regulations in incentivizing action. “It’s that certainty that provides a roadmap for investments in the future,” says James Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy.

The call to action isn’t exhilarating, but Shattered Sky shows that we can address climate change.  And perhaps its greatest value is that glimmer of hope.

Shattered Sky, directed by Steve Dorst and Dan Evans, USA: Bullfrog Films, 2012, 60 minutes

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Reviewer Information

Julie is an urban planning graduate student at the University of Waterloo, focusing on sustainable transportation.

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