Global temperatures are rising and so are we: millions of young people rise up to demand their right to a livable planet
Available on CBC Gem


Nature of Things

Sparked by activist Greta Thunberg in Sweden and exploding around the world, the global climate protests have been some of the largest demonstrations in history. Rebellion, a documentary from The Nature of Things, is a vivid portrait of this extraordinary grassroots movement.

David Suzuki joins the front lines of the protests, meeting the youth of this generational wave — often compared to the civil rights movement of the ‘60s, the Vietnam War protests, the gay rights movement, and the women’s movement. We meet Olivia Wohlgemuth from New York, age 17, as she plasters flyers on utility poles in Manhattan; Jerome Foster, who was mocked for his lonely vigil for climate justice in front of the White House when he was 16; and Sophia Mathur, of Sudbury, Ont., who at age 11 was the first Canadian student to join Thunberg’s school strike.

Suzuki talks to veteran voices in the climate crisis: David Attenborough, famous for his BBC nature documentaries, shares his fears for the future of civilization itself; Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion movement that shut down the city of London, describes a tipping point in modern history; Bill McKibben — journalist, activist, and founder of the worldwide movement — reveals a 30-year conspiracy of the fossil fuel industry to tell “the most significant lie in human history.”

George Monbiot, a leading environmental writer, targets the media for enabling the fossil fuel industry for three decades by neglecting the climate crisis. We join actor Jane Fonda during a protest against the banks that finance the oil and gas industry, while McKibben and civil rights leader Rev. Lennox Yearwood are arrested on-camera as they occupy a branch of the Chase Bank. In New Delhi, India, we meet Bhavreen Kandhari, who, with her army of children, saved thousands of 100-year-old trees from decimation; and in Boston, we meet Varshini Prakash, whose Sunrise Movement has become a force in shaping Joe Biden’s climate policy.

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Filmed in Canada, the U.S., Britain and India, Rebellion sees Suzuki raising questions about the future of the climate movement, as the pandemic brought protests to a halt. Will the movement survive the global lockdowns or will it evaporate, as earlier protest waves have? Decades before Greta Thunberg took a stand, Suzuki’s daughter, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, was a teenager speaking out against climate change on an international stage. She reflects on the future of this generation of protest with a message of hope.

With the emergence of massive protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police, there has been a profound effect on the climate movement, broadening it to a “climate justice” movement. Yearwood considers this transformative. “We do see that this movement may have gotten it right,” he says. “It was different because we saw Black people and white people and brown people and red people…. We saw humans, at this time, all coming together, which made it different.”

Rebellion takes us from a sea of protestors in Montreal to the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and from the Bank of England’s boardrooms to the slums of New Delhi, in a dramatic and compelling journey that asks, where do we go from here in the fight for a livable planet?

Watch Rebellion on The Nature of Things.


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Nature of Things