Lack of love in a hot climate

This post is about one of the ten short films in the Open University/BBC Creative Climate short film competition, made by students from UK film schools. You can see them all here on the OU’s Youtube channel.

Hot and Bothered – By Gia LaSalvia, London Film School

What will climate change do for your love life? Rising temperatures in the bedroom – but not in a good way – is the premise behind this romantic comedy. This tender and generous film asks people to stop and talk through the issues today before the situation gets any stickier. Filmmaker Gia LaSalvia explains:

Hot & Bothered is a short comedy about a husband who loves his wife.  But in this not-so-distant boiling hot future, he can’t bring himself to express his affection for her.  Thankfully, the right product has come along to solve their bedroom woes.  But is another energy-consuming device really the answer?

This project was envisioned as a light, satirical approach to the dire possibilities of climate change.  The film says that while the repercussions of a changing climate may indeed be cataclysmic, perhaps we can understand the perils if we think of how they can affect us on a day-to-day basis, intimately.

It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to imagine a future where the general public is so plagued by heat waves that it becomes socially acceptable to wear less and less clothing.  Personally speaking, I don’t want to live in a society where the general public bears all.  I doubt that most of us would like to hop on the bus and sit next to a random naked man.  Hot & Bothered is looking to poke fun at such a future, while making a comment on some of the more ridiculous potential corporate responses.

I first saw the finished film on a record breaking October day in England, sitting in shorts and T-shirt with the outside temperature hitting 27 degrees. Generally it is distracting and largely wrong to try to associate particular weather events with long-term climate change trends. But without climate mitigation strategies (cutting right down on our emissions of greenhouse gases) we can confidently expect rising average temperatures globally. Gia takes viewers to a near term future where people are adapting to these by stripping off. The British adaptation strategy is to strip down to string vests, fan hot ruddy faces, buy plenty of ice cream cones and purchase very personal cooling devices.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has sketched a number of scenarios, and most media depictions of the upper end of their range are of frightening dystopias. Plenty of climate communications have sought to coax people into support for action or behaviour change through these scare tactics. But these approaches may be wrong in two senses. In temperate and relatively wealthy Britain we are almost certainly not going to experience the worst effects of climate change. Furthermore there is plenty of evidence that anyone that was going to be motivated by fear-based messages has been mobilised already – and everyone else has switched off.

This film handles the issue very differently. It is set in an uncomfortable world where simple everyday pleasures are radically diminished. This stymied romance shows how climate change could take some of the fun out of life, but if we get on to talking about it now there is a good chance we can avoid the worst. Nobody knows how the climate system and human social systems are going to interact over the next century, and the IPCC are offering no more than humanity’s best-informed guesses at how things will turn out. What is certain is that this entertaining cautionary tale is more likely than much of the scary CGI footage of floods and drought to get people thinking afresh about the seriousness of climate change, and the value of doing all we can to mitigate risks.

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