"We've been talking about rising sea levels and extreme weather events," said author Thom Hartmann. "Now we need to talk about extinctions."
Filmmaker Leila Conners and Producers George DiCaprio, Earl Katz, and Mathew Schmid have joined with Hartmann and writer/researcher Sam Sacks to produce a new short film - "Last Hours" - about the most extreme possible outcome of global warming.
Our planet has nearly died before. Five times in the deep geologic history of planet Earth, massive quantities of greenhouse gases have been released through the Earth's crust. One was provoked by a meteorite strike, others by tectonic and volcanic activity. In each case, these massive releases of greenhouse gases warmed the planet enough to cause global mass extinctions -- the death of more than half of all life.
"Last Hours" is a film that explores the possibility that we could be close - centuries or perhaps just decades -to tipping points that could lead to a sixth mass extinction, and relies on input from some of the world's leading scientists.
"It's almost impossible to know when you have passed a tipping point," says Hartmann. "You only see them in retrospect. So we have to do everything we can now to avoid inadvertently hitting tipping points that might lead to catastrophic methane releases." Hartmann's most recent book "The Last Hours of Humanity," goes in depth on the topic.
While climate scientists rarely study mass extinctions, geologists are quite familiar with them. And, increasingly, they are speaking out about how our extraction of carbon fuels from beneath the earth and burning of them into the atmosphere is mimicking processes that, in the deep geologic past, have caused mass extinctions.
"Geology is a patient teacher and it repeats its lessons over and over again," says Last Hours co-producer George DiCaprio. ""Last Hours' explains that the same chemical circumstances will yield the same results... there is no reason to suppose otherwise. It's time to tell everyone that global warming may cause a calamity; we have no time to waste."
"This film is meant to be an asset for the climate movement and to generate momentum for the global reduction of carbon emissions," said Leila Conners, director of the film, which was produced by George DiCaprio, Earl Katz and Mathew Schmid. Conners added, "We must move toward renewable energy and to create a real solution, hopefully well before or at the COP 21 in Paris in 2015."
Co-Producer Earl Katz added: "'Last Hours' describes the Methane Sword of Damocles that we must avoid to prevent global environmental catastrophe. Watch "Last Hours' because our last chance to save humanity is right now.
"Last Hours" is a captivating, extremely compelling appeal meant to awaken politicians and business leaders to take climate action and stop runway catastrophic climate change. Few films have managed to capture the sense of urgency as well as 'Last Hours'. In the context of science telling us that emissions need to peak by 2015 and then come down, and with politicians doing little to reflect this urgency, this is a a much needed asset for the climate movement."
Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International
"Last Hours is an alarming video that captures the state of emergency we face with climate disruption--yet at the same time we must recognize that there is real hope: the clean energy industry is rapidly growing, we are making headway in reducing carbon pollution, and by working together we can turn things around."
Michael Brune, Executive Director, The Sierra Club
"This is an important video. We have to deal with our carbon dioxide problem now, so we don't have to deal with the methane bomb down the road"
Lester Brown, Founder and President Earth Policy Institute, Founder of Worldwatch Institute
"In the 18th century, Edmund Burke wrote that 'Those who don -t know history
are destined to repeat it.' Many years later, Last Hours makes
clear how much we have to learn from our planet -s history to truly
understand the potent threat of trapped methane. This film acts as a
call to action on climate that we must heed."
Maggie Fox, President and CEO, The Climate Reality Project
"I'm happy to endorse this important film."
Robert Kennedy, jr.
"The fossil fuel industry has broken lots of human laws over the last century. Now the big laws -- Nature's laws -- are catching up to it. As Last Hours makes clear, humankind must choose to rein in its carbon emissions now, or Nature will rein them in for us."
Denis Hayes, President, the Bullit Foundation, Founder and Honorary Chair, Earth Day Network
"LAST HOURS is a jolting wake-up call for humanity about the sleeping methane giant that could kill off nearly all life on the planet if we don't act now to slash carbon emissions. Earth could not be sending us a clearer or more urgent message."
Tom Weis, President, Climate Crisis Solutions
"Last Hours is essential viewing for anyone who cares about preventing the distastrous effects of global warming."
Thu Pam, Executive Director, Rachel's Network