Sea Change

A new documentary stirs an upwelling of concern for the world’s oceans.

April 27, 2015

After a 2007 screening of his highly acclaimed documentary Sharkwater, Rob Stewart became flummoxed when an audience member asked, “Why make a film about sharks if the world’s fisheries will be depleted by 2048?”

Good question.

Fast-forward to 2015 and Stewart’s latest work, Revolution, takes a deep dive into the collapse of fisheries worldwide. The Canadian filmmaker heads to the reefs of New Guinea, some of the most biodiverse waters on earth, now threatened by ocean acidification and climate change. Marine scientist Charlie Veron—a.k.a. The Godfather of Coral—warns that what happens in the ocean doesn’t stay there. In the distant past, mass extinctions at sea have always found their way to land.

In the 90-minute film, viewers trek to scenes of heavy carbon pollution all over the world, from the massive tar sands mines of Canada to the destructive slash-and-burn operations of Madagascan rainforests. 

But as the title suggests, Revolution is not all doom and gloom. The movie takes a turn in Cancun, Mexico, after the largely uninspiring 2010 U.N. convention on climate change. Stewart finds solace in young protesters who were urging world leaders to take action. He finds more like them on the island of Saipan, where young environmentalists encouraged the government to limit shark-finning in that part of the Pacific.

The revolution has begun, narrates Stewart. “You’re a part of it now, and you’re going to win.” And we’d better. As Veron says, “What the oceans do, the terrestrial world will follow.”

Photo: Rob Stewart

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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