The documentary explores the devastating effect of climate change on our world, and our collective resilience in the face of its collapse. A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to complete the film, which is in the final stages of production.
After four years of filming, editing and research, “Once You Know” is nearly complete. If all goes according to director Emmanuel Cappellin’s plan, the project will raise $110,000 by 6:18 p.m. (CET) on December 29. The campaign has so far generated $50,800 in online donations, or enough to at least complete the last two shoots and editing.
The timing of the documentary couldn’t be more pertinent. In recent months, a slew of studies have been published detailing the devastating effects runaway climate change will have if drastic action isn’t taken immediately. Economies will collapse, infrastructure will literally crumble, and millions will be forced to flee their homes.
The sheer scale of disaster is hard for many of us to grasp. It’s too big, too scary, too abstract. Even more overwhelming is that it will likely happen within many of our lifetimes: a United Nations report found that if emissions continue to rise, the world will see severe damage as soon as 2040.
In the face of such a grim prognostic, it’s easy to feel that individual efforts to reduce energy consumption and limit waste are pointless, especially when our world leaders seem unwilling to take meaningful action. Which is why Cappellin’s film is so important. At a time when many of us feel powerless, “Once You Know” offers us a coping strategy of sorts: together, we shall overcome.
Cappellin doesn’t mean to overcome all of the consequences of climate change. He, like many experts, concedes that it may very well be too late to stave off economic disaster and a collapse of global exchanges due to energy depletion. Instead, his film focuses on our collective ability to confront the challenges ahead and adapt by turning to one another for support.
“What is extremely dangerous is this phenomenon happening in an individualised society,” Cappellin said. “We’ll have to fall back on smaller political entities, such as communities and bio-regionalism.”
It is a powerful narrative that takes us on a journey around the globe, from Cappellin’s native France to China and the United States – where he spent much of his adolescence and young adult years – as he searches for an answer to the question: how do you live in a world on the brink of collapse?
His quest leads him to some of the world’s leading climate and energy experts, who discuss the awful reality we all face in the decades to come and the choices we will have to make.
“The film makes a very dangerous bet, because it’s trusting people,” Cappellin said. “Leaders are making the calculation that it’s better to not say the full extent of what is wrong, because people will panic and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have had a very different experience with people. What I see is the opposite of what world leaders are saying. Churchill once said ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat’… that is the kind of political courage we need today.”
In other words, we are not as powerless as many of us may feel. We can rise to the occasion, so to speak, if we work to strengthen our communities and shift toward a more local mode of living.
“Once you accept that there is no more ‘away’ for food, waste and energy, bio-regionalism becomes a necessity,” Cappellin said. “My film is about what comes after you accept and have mourned the death of the fossil economy. This has to be the fight of our generation and of generations to come.”