Mountainfilm Blogs: October 2012

Halting Species Extinction: The Price Tag

In 2010, Mountainfilm in Telluride examined the issue of extinction for our Moving Mountains Symposium. The list of endangered creatures has been growing for generations, a crisis E.O. Wilson and other scientists say is caused by human destruction to natural habitats.

World governments have committed to try to halt the extinction of species and safeguard important biodiversity sites for nature by 2020, but this promise hasn’t seen much serious number crunching. Until now.

A recent study, published in Science, sets the price at $80 billion per year — the sum of $4 billion annually and another $76 billion to protect and manage key habitats.

The Food Movement: California’s Prop 37

Come November 6, in addition to the national election and other state ballot issues, a few million Californians will vote on food. California, long the rebel state that paves the way for the rest of the nation, has Proposition 37 on the menu ballot, which would require that genetically modified (G.M.) foods carry a label.

It seems a simple concept to let people know what they’re eating, but as food author, journalist and activist and Michael Pollan writes in an article titled “Vote for the Dinner Party,” Big Food doesn’t see it that way:

Joel Cohen Video: An Intro to Demography

Mountainfilm in Telluride 2012 focused on population, and although the Moving Mountains Symposium is over, we’re not closing the door on the discussion. It’s a many-layered subject and affects most every ecosystem on the planet.

In this video, Joel Cohen, a professor of populations at Rockefeller and Columbia Universities (who couldn’t make it to our symposium), outlines the complexity of the topic while simultaneously simplifying the difficult subject.

Before you begin, a few caveats:

  1. The video is 43 minutes.
  2. The intended audience is students who might consider demography as a course of study, but the sales pitch on either end is brief.

If the caveats deter you in any way from setting aside 43 minutes to watch, here are a few incentives to counteract them:

Mountainfilm in New York City: An Unlikely Locale?

Since David Holbrooke started working as the festival director at Mountainfilm in 2007, he’s split his time between New York City and Telluride, Colorado. This weekend, his two different worlds will collide when Mountainfilm on Tour visits New York’s Lincoln Center for three days of films and guest speakers on October 19-21. Below, he describes what New Yorkers will appreciate in Mountainfilm’s upcoming programming.

Mountainfilm travels all over the world — Brazil, Chile, China and Norway in just the last month — but New York City is, at first glance, an unlikely locale for the festival. Aside from the obvious physical landscape, there are also profound cultural differences. As someone who has lived in both places, however, I know that there are more common interests than one might think.

Wilderness Crunch: Northern States Feel it Most

We love the outdoors at Mountainfilm in Telluride, but a new study, “Outdoor Recreation in the Northern United States," shows that America's growing population and increasing interest in the outdoors is straining state and federal recreation areas, particularly in the northern states. The research, commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service, looks at 20 states in the north — extending from Maine to Minnesota and from Missouri to Maryland — and concludes that while the area’s population growth was less than the rest of the country, there will still be a conflict for land and water resources, especially when it comes to outdoor activities.

In this northern region, approximately 90 to 94 million people age 16 and older engage in outdoor recreation that ranges from hunting and fishing to orienteering, kayaking and mountain biking. The most popular activities are pretty tame: walking for pleasure, family gatherings outdoors, viewing/ photographing natural scenery, visiting outdoor nature centers,gardening or landscaping, and picnicking.

Good Work in Progress: A Dispatch from Chile

Peter Kenworthy, the executive director for Mountainfilm in Telluride, is in Chile right now for the International Rural Film Festival, which is part of a larger nonprofit, Fundacion Altiplano, that aims to support and sustain the culture and economies of small Andean communities in the northernmost parts of Chile. He shares the following from his adventures:

Wolf Hunting Season: A Vicious Cycle?

This fall marked the opening of wolf hunting season in five states: Wyoming, Idaho, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Montana. Listening to the controversy between ranchers and conservation groups over the species can leave a person enraged, numb or simply wondering why we can’t all live in harmony on this massive chunk of land.

The gray wolf, which was hunted to near extinction until the 1930s and 1940s, has mostly rebounded, thanks to Federal and state endangered species acts. Its numbers now run around 5,000 in the lower 48 and a little over 11,000 in Alaska (where, as Mother Jone’s reports, they’ve never been protected).

A recent NPR story about wolf hunting discusses how the wolf population in Montana has grown dramatically, even with hunting. This year, wildlife officials there have abandoned the statewide kill limit and almost doubled the length of the season.

Mountainfilm Commitment Grant: 2012 Winners

2012 marks the third year since we launched our Mountainfilm Commitment Grant program. Our goal is to help creative individuals tell stories that represent the spirit of Mountainfilm in Telluride. We’ve watched the number of applicants grow each year and been impressed by both the quality and diversity of the proposals. This year, the five grantees are working on films that range in subject from climbing to gold mining:

2012 Mountainfilm Commitment Grant Winners