STAR shifts from soaps, sleuths to nature

  • 14/05/1993

STAR Plus, the satellite channel well-known for its steamy soaps and street-wise sleuths, is going green -- and with a vengeance. It showed a two-part series in mid-March called After The Warming and has scheduled, among other programmes for this slot, Race to Save the Planet, -- a ten-part series anchored by Meryl Streep and telecast by Doordarshan a few years ago. Beginning April 12, STAR will feature on Mondays an eight-part magazine serial called Green Pages.

Green Pages is based on individual initiatives to improve the environment. One episode for instance, deals with the sharpest method of recycling glass, the hottest tips on home insulation and the coolest way to dispose of refrigerators. In addition, celebrities share tips on the environment.

After The Warming is a futuristic film, a genre that includes the popular The Day After, which graphically portrayed a post-nuclear holocaust scenario. In After The Warming, James Burke, examines the changes that the greenhouse effect effects in the world and in changing lifestyles between 1994 and 2050.

The film conjures up a fictitious planet management authority, which seeks to discipline governments, passes decrees and succeeds, over a span of half a century, in changing the way the earth looks and the manner in which people behave.

The film describes a global carbon budget, calculated on average emissions and adult population size, that is mooted in the closing years of the 20th century. The developing world has vast spare carbon rights and they want to swap these for reforestation programmes. The advanced nations buy time, promising to cut emissions by 75 per cent by the year 2030. It is only after 1997-98 that USA, reeling under the worst droughts ever, agrees to join the international greenhouse effort.

Meanwhile, both temperatures and the sea level continue to rise. Families living in coastal areas have to flee as they are hit frequently by major tropical storms. By the year 2010, there are two million starvation deaths, two million people try to cross the USA-Mexico border and in 12,000 die in Australia as refugees are fired upon.

In 2020, global temperatures are still rising and by 2050, all the major rivers in USA and Russia run dry. The sea level also rises steadily and if you own property in Florida, well, now you don't.

But do societies begin to change their energy consumption patterns? Only because they are forced to over the first half of the 21st century. People establish small towns with local, independent solar energy systems and mini-hydroelectric dams. The deserts are dotted with solar thermal plants by 2050. There are forests everywhere and forestry becomes a growth-oriented industry in South America. Finally, wonder of wonders, Americans stop eating beef. We are told this also cuts down on methane emissions by flatulent cows! The deep ocean provides evidence that the warming has melted the polar ice caps and diluted the salinity of the Atlantic gulf stream.

But the North's extravagant lifestyles, which had contributed heavily to global warming, finally changes. There are real carbon cutbacks and life on the planet is clean, high-tech, renewable, community conscious and orderly. And, very green. But many had to die in droughts and floods and a generation had to change its ways drastically, for life to get there.

This is an interesting film and it poses a challenge to the post-Rio international community.