Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Aubrey Coats is a correspondent and activist for science and science education. An exhibit designer by day and grad student by night, Aubrey is always looking for the next excuse to talk about anything from; tips on how to survive in a real Jurassic Park to the ever-controversial planetary status of Pluto. Be it an authority on dark matter, or a TV scientist, she is tenacious in her search for what’s under the surface. No authority is to academic for her pursuit, she seeks to help scientists take what they have worked on for painstaking hours (and have spent painstaking hours trying to explain to their loved ones) and turn it into something palatable for even the bluest of collars. Give her a topic and a large coffee and let the discussions begin! Her passion for science STEMed from an early age but was always propelled by Michael Crichton. This led her to pursuing her two biggest passions in life; science and sarcasm. Aubrey pursued a bachelor's in Anthropology at the University of Central Florida. She has had gone on different field schools that specialized in both terrestrial and underwater archaeology. Aubrey’s passion for science has led her to exploring several different fields of study including: Astronomy, Archaeology, Chemistry, Paleontology, and Anthropology. Currently, she is pursuing a Master's in New Media Journalism at Full Sail University with a focus on developing material for a series of blogs/journals that bring science from academia and into publicly accessible mediums such as: social media, news articles, blogposts, and YouTube. Aubrey enjoys writing about new and interesting topics in science, she likes to look for new ways of disseminating complex scientific papers for the layman. Storytelling is one area where Aubrey is extremely passionate. Aubrey devours books (intellectually, of course!) at a rapid rate and is just as likely to quote the latest quips from Bill Nye’s argument on global warming as she is to describe the importance of each Harry Potter house. She likes nothing more than to talk about why scientific discoveries are important and how important it is to support studies that move humans closer to a future that is better, brighter, and more sustainable.


Is Hollywood ‘Cli-Fi’ doing more harm than good?




Hollywood has created a new villain- climate change. An increasing number blockbuster flicks featuring an environmental apocalypse has culminated in a new genre known as ‘Cli-Fi’. Movies such as Geostorm,Annihilation, and They Day After Tomorrow are set around the dire consequences of extreme weather phenomena. It’s said there’s no such thing as bad press, but is Cli-Fi raising awareness or fear mongering?
Climate change has made its way to the forefront of American news and politics following the current administration’s negative stance on the subject. This has caused to activists, scientists, and now Hollywood to step forward and take a stand. Films such as Dean Devlin’s “Geostorm” are created with the intent to show the potential danger of global warming. While some applaud the efforts of Hollywood to create awareness of the problem, many researchers criticize this tactic.
The premise for this argument is that doom-and-gloom apocalyptic movies are guilty of fear mongering and are actually causing more harm than good. In Andrew Hoffman’s book, “How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate” the University of Michigan Professors breaks down the effects that Cli-Fi really has on public opinion. Hoffman argues that too many of these stories leave audiences with a sense of hopelessness as opposed to motivation, leaving people to ask, “What’s the point?” He goes on to discuss that accepting climate change as a villain can be a hard pill to swallow. If climate change is the result of humans, as most environmental scientists would argue, that makes the viewers the villains; and who really wants to believe they are responsible for the apocalypse?
A little Hollywood magic is to be expected in any blockbuster flick, butresearchers observed that audiences are more likely to blindly trust science fiction movies than any other genre. This makes audiences and less likely research the facts, blurring the lines between fact and fiction. Climate change is not the first, and certainty won’t be last problem that Hollywood has had an influence on.
reel hollywood problems.pngWhen it comes to accepting climate change, there is a deep divide in public opinion. According to Yale’s Climate Opinion Study, a majority of Americans admit global warming is happening, yet fewer than 30% believe that it will harm them personally. Further discussed in United We Stand, Divided We Sink: Why are Floridians So Divided on Global Warming? this opinion is most often formed because people instinctually believe that they see. In many Cli-Fi movies, such as “Geostorm” or Roland Emmerich’s “The Day After Tomorrow,” global warming is seen as a sudden catastrophic instance. In reality, climate change is a very gradual process that can’t be observed by looking outside a window.
Cli-fi isn’t the only one guilty of using fear tactics to get audience attention. Al Gore’s 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” shocked audiences its dramatic, and eye-opening footage of a crumbling environment. While the movie won an Oscar and received much public acclaims, it also received much criticism. In an interview with the New York Times, director for the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, Ed Maibach, accused the movie of being “100 percent about fear.” He argues that most prominent part of the movie should have been what audiences can do to reverse the damage, not just show it. Maibach goes on to praise Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing;” a comedic flick about literally decreasing one’s carbon footprint. Maibach believes that positive reinforcement of opportunity and motivation for change is more effective than fear tactics.
Hollywood has the means and influence to make a potentially positive impact on rather dismal subject, but with great power comes great responsibility. Now more than ever, is the time for pop culture to use its influence for good.
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Author: Aubrey Coats

Aubrey Coats is a correspondent and activist for science and science education. An exhibit designer by day and grad student by night, Aubrey is always looking for the next excuse to talk about anything from; tips on how to survive in a real Jurassic Park to the ever-controversial planetary status of Pluto. Be it an authority on dark matter, or a TV scientist, she is tenacious in her search for what’s under the surface. No authority is to academic for her pursuit, she seeks to help scientists take what they have worked on for painstaking hours (and have spent painstaking hours trying to explain to their loved ones) and turn it into something palatable for even the bluest of collars. Give her a topic and a large coffee and let the discussions begin!  Her passion for science STEMed from an early age but was always propelled by Michael Crichton. This led her to pursuing her two biggest passions in life; science and sarcasm. Aubrey pursued a bachelor's in Anthropology at the University of Central Florida. She has had gone on different field schools that specialized in both terrestrial and underwater archaeology. Aubrey’s passion for science has led her to exploring several different fields of study including: Astronomy, Archaeology, Chemistry, Paleontology, and Anthropology. Currently, she is pursuing a Master's in New Media Journalism at Full Sail University with a focus on developing material for a series of blogs/journals that bring science from academia and into publicly accessible mediums such as: social media, news articles, blogposts, and YouTube. Aubrey enjoys writing about new and interesting topics in science, she likes to look for new ways of disseminating complex scientific papers for the layman. Storytelling is one area where Aubrey is extremely passionate. Aubrey devours books (intellectually, of course!) at a rapid rate and is just as likely to quote the latest quips from Bill Nye’s argument on global warming as she is to describe the importance of each Harry Potter house. She likes nothing more than to talk about why scientific discoveries are important and how important it is to support studies that move humans closer to a future that is better, brighter, and more sustainable. 

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