New DVD ‘Conflict and Climate Change’

3rd October 2013 - by Ellen Teague

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“An extraordinarily good resource, and a hopeful one about engaging with the issues of conflict and climate change”,

was how the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) described a new DVD ‘Conflict and Climate Change’. Columban JPIC has supported and been closely involved with the production of the DVD.

Conflict change dvd cover

Speaking at the offices of the NUT in Central London on 2 October, Christine Blower said the NUT was “delighted to be associated with the DVD and with the Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW)”, which produced the 18 minute DVD in collaboration with Kevin Mayhew Publishing. She particularly liked the “excellent” cartoons which will get young people talking about the root causes of climate change and links with conflict. “Many children and young people are concerned about climate change” she said, “and this resource gives them some excellent ideas for classroom discussions on how to make sure that the effects of a changing climate aren’t made worse by war and violence”.

Several prominent political leaders, scientists and academics voice their concerns on the need to tackle climate change and reduce the risk of conflict and war in the 18-minute DVD. They include former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of Ireland MARY ROBINSON, SALEEMUL HUQ of the International Institute for Environment and Development, PAUL ROGERS, Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University, Indian environmental activist VANDANA SHIVA, and MARY COLWELL, an award winning broadcaster specialising in the natural world, who advises the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on environmental issues. Young environmental and peace activists show what they are doing to build a more sustainable and peaceful world.

A packed room of around 60 people attended the launch. The evening was chaired by Bruce Kent of the Movement for the Abolition of War who said, “it is highly likely that that the struggle for resources and migration pressure will become more challenging as climate change takes effect, but we must resolve potential conflict by negotiating, not by picking up guns or dropping bombs”. He pointed out that the £100bn currently allocated to updating Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system would “go a long way if spent on sustainable housing”. He thanked filmmaker Bob Walters, who formed a production team with Valerie Flessati and Ellen Teague of Columban JPIC, and the latter also produced a resource booklet to accompany the DVD. “We made a big effort to involve young people in the DVD and offer practical examples of what they can do to tackle these problems” said Kent.

Another speaker was Stuart Parkinson of Scientists for Global Responsibility, who appears in the DVD and lives in an eco-village in Lancashire. “The debate should be moving on now from ‘Is climate change really happening?’ to a focus on what we can do about it” he said, reflecting that “we are not doing nearly enough, and this is why this DVD is so important”. He felt it ironic that the military has recognised the security threat posed by climate change, starting in the United States with a Pentagon report in 2004, but “the response is often buying more weapons to defend borders”. The video points out that the numbers of environmental refugees will increase by millions as climate change makes increasing tracts of land unliveable.
The DVD and accompanying resource booklet for schools and adult groups – such as Justice and Peace Groups – highlight the danger of climate change leading to conflict at regional and global levels. The DVD is timely in the light of last week’s UN report where scientists said there will be more extreme weather and rising sea levels as a result of climate change, pointing out that they are 95% certain humans are the dominant cause. The report, from the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change, has prompted renewed calls for global action to control emissions of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases. Teachers in the audience on Wednesday felt there should be more debate on fossil fuels in the classroom

Christian groups have given financial support to the DVD production, including Columban JPIC, Jesuit Fund for Social Justice, Religious of the Assumption and the Christian Peace Education Trust. A scientific advisor was Sir John Houghton of the John Ray Initiative and a former head of the Met Office, who has advised the churches on climate change awareness and action. Present at the evening was Kevin and Barbara Mayhew who supported the project from the start. And Fr Joe Ryan, whose parish in North London became the first two weeks ago to be awarded the Live Simply Parish Award, alongside Barbara Kentish Westminster Justice and Peace worker, who welcomed the new resource. Also present was Sr Louisa Poole, a member of the Srs of St Louis, who sits on the Board of Operation Noah, the ecumenical organisation which last week launched its new campaign ‘Bright Now-Towards Fossil Free Churches’. Pax Christi staff Pat Gaffney and Matt Jeziorski said they would be advertising the DVD to Pax Christi members.

The DVD and booklet are published by Kevin Mayhew and cost £8.99 (DVD and Booklet) directly from or 0845 388 1634