Climate Change Across America
An Epic Film
Four Years in The Making
16,000 Miles From Texas to the Arctic Ocean
Below is a taste of what we were up to in 2018 as an ongoing update to the bigger Climate Change Across America film project. So far we have 43,000 miles of production in the can, with at least two years to go. It’s a big continent, and the impacts are only getting more extreme. The photos below are the teeniest tip of the iceberg. Climate change is far worse than presented in the media because the perceived debate has created a public mentality that broadly believes climate impacts are in a large part natural variations in weather. It’s obvious if one gets out in the wild and one knows what the science says that this is not true. But not everyone has the skills, the equipment, the motivation, the stamina. The story has to be told.
But it comes at a cost. Our nonprofit is an independent science education organization. This a rare thing that has few possibilities for funding. We are almost completely funded by our founder and the more he works on climate the less he can work on engineering to pay for all of this. Our pockets are flat. We have extraordinarily work to do to follow up on our scouting of the California catastrophes last year. And now, we lost our drone.
Our newest piece of filmaking equipment was lost out in front of an extreme thunderstorm about 7 pm on the 10th as we were attempting to get footage of these increasingly extreme storms that have become so common lately. We spent four days on Padre Island three weeks ago filming dune erosion from sunny day tides and there was a gale warning offshore. The drone warned of high winds, they were almost certainly steady at 35 mph (gale force winds are 39 to 54 mph). We flew anyway, the surf was running up against the dunes and eroding badly. (See our beach report and videos here) So, we thought we could handle the winds with this storm. Thinking again…
Everything went well for three or four minutes. At about 350 feet, the view of the wall cloud was phenomenal and it filled the horizon from east to west coming in from the north.
When the gust front hit I was doing one last mega-pan and watching my control screen when my daughter who was watching the show asked urgently, “are you going to be able to get it back?” I looked up and the bird was gone. Looking at daughter, she pointed and the aircraft was moving south fast, obviously straining to stay stationary. Winds were clocked at 78 and 81 miles an hour at ground level with this storm around town. The aircraft was at 350 feet.
By the time I ran to the corner the bird was out of sight. Autohome landing was not functioning, the wind was too strong. The controls were pushing her north at the max but she was headed south at 25 mph. A minute later it started to rain and control connection was lost. She had traveled nearly a mile. I’ve looked for her twice at the last GPS location and downwind of there a half mile. The search zone was in the the woods, about 60 percent dense forest. No joy. It’s quite plausible controls disconnected but flying continued, towards the Gulf of Mexico as fast as the tempest could push.
Documenting extremes is expensive. We have spent $17,000 on maintenance on our the Chevy Suburban ice melter in the last four years, that we cannot do without because our work takes us into the four-wheel drive wilderness where many climate impacts are found. We broke her frame on the Dalton Highway somewhere north of the Arctic Circle this year, another $1,000 dollars.
You can donate here, we have very little funding that does not come out of our own pockets. Our photo tour of our big 16,000 mile filming trip to the Arctic is below. A summary of the trip is here, our Instagram video summary is here.
Photo Tour of Our 16,000 Mile Observation From California to the Arctic in 2018
Please tell your friends with philanthropic resources that we need funding to complete this film. Thanks.