We are living through a climate change crisis, and many parts of the world already feel its adverse effects. The future holds increased competition for scarce resources, which will undoubtedly displace and disenfranchise many. These issues can get extremely overwhelming, making most people feel helpless, small, and unsure of what to do. While many want to do something about it, there seems to be no hope of finding and implementing lasting solutions. Yet that is precisely what Patagonia's latest film, "The Scale of Hope", provides. It is an inspirational film that frames how one person can rise to the climate change challenge positively and proactively.
The film's subject is Molly Kawahata, a former climate advisor to the Obama White House. She is also a dedicated alpine climber who dreams of climbing higher and more challenging summits as she continues to hone her climbing skills. This desire to overcome seemingly impossible situations is mirrored in her lifelong passion for helping the environment and alleviating the effects of global climate change. As she works hard to prepare for a climbing expedition in the Alaska Range, Molly is also working on a hope-centered strategy and narrative in addressing climate change. And in a life-affirming twist, her mental health struggles allow her to find a way.
Molly lived with undiagnosed bipolar disorder for about a decade until she got the confirmation on her second day at the White House. It was never a source of shame, and after getting treatment, she fell madly in love with ice climbing. Discovering that she had an extreme-leaning personality indirectly helped her re-frame how she was personally addressing climate change.
While working at the White House under President Obama, Kawahata went on a mission to make climate messaging optimistic versus the decades of extremely bleak, apocalyptic and desperate warnings. People are more likely to respond when they see the health and benefits of reversing climate change vs their "impending doom", which is what much of the messaging has been about. She realized that while the climate crisis is urgent, humanity can solve it via a zero-carbon economy, and this message needs to spread to everyone.
We join Kawahata as she visits the Topaz Internment Camp in Utah. It is where, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the US government interned Japanese Americans, including her grandparents. This poignant visit cements her long-held belief that for authentic positive climate action to take place, current policies and systems must change so that their effects can trickle down to the global population. Someone in the White House decided that rounding up Japanese Americans was policy and everyone down the line made it happen. The same can work for the environment.
For this to happen, people, regardless of color, race, political beliefs and religion, must register and vote for climate-conscious government officials. Kawahata is now spreading the word to younger people about the importance of climate policy and participating in politics and social discussions via social media, specifically Instagram and Tiktok.
Directed by: Josh "Bones" Murphy