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Documentary on global warmingpremieres in Aspen on Earth Day

Joel Stonington

An HBO documentary, which a local expert on climate change wrote, will premiere in Aspen as part of Earth Day festivities. Susan Joy Hassol, a climate change analyst who lives in Basalt, wrote “Too Hot Not to Handle” and will answer questions at the Given Institute at 3 p.m. Saturday, in conjunction with a screening of the documentary.”It’s the basics presented in a pretty powerful way,” said Dan Richardson, global warming project manager for the city of Aspen. “It lays out the problem of global warming. They have some of the leading scientists describing the situation. They have some good case studies of businesses that have acted on it and provide some inspiration.”Hassol has worked a great deal on interpreting scientific language for the general public.”We produced a film that’s really a primer on global warming,” said Hassol, who also wrote “Impacts of a Warming Arctic” and has testified in front of the Senate at the request of Sen. John McCain. “I’ve been working on the issue of climate change for 15 or 20 years,” she said. “My role is to integrate and synthesize all these scientific disciplines. I translate science into English.””Too Hot to Handle” will premier on HBO at 7 p.m. Saturday, which is Earth Day. However, 10 cities that have voluntarily adopted Kyoto Protocol regulations will get a premier of the film a few hours before it shows on HBO; one of those cities is Aspen.”It was very important to me that the film discuss solutions, that this not just be the-sky-is-falling type of film,” she said. “It’s a man-made problem, and there are man-made solutions. Half the film is devoted to solutions.”Even so, she said the film stays away from politics as much as possible. Hassol said specific mention of Kyoto is not in the final version, even though she felt it was important. “There was an effort not to want to alienate anyone,” she said, though she said politics is an essential part of solving global warming. “We need to have a law in this country that makes it no longer free to dump carbon into the atmosphere,” she said. “Why wouldn’t you do that? It’s so cheap to burn fuel and burn coal. The costs of climate change are not built in to the costs of burning fossil fuels, and they should be.”However, the film does not include those points. “I raised the idea,” she said. “Their eyes glazed over. You just can’t do everything in one hour. It was tough. There were a lot of things I wanted to include that we couldn’t.”Even with the restrictions on some of the material, she is excited about the solutions presented, from energy efficiency to new technologies.”We have an enormous challenge, yet it’s not an impossible challenge,” she said. “It can be addressed. We can’t stop it cold. This is definitely the largest challenge humanity has ever faced.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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