Award-winning film and documentary-maker Liz Courtney has made and directed a new 4-part series called Changing Ocean Asia which shows us how climate change is already affecting the ocean and the low-lying South-east Asian area. The series is now streaming on the Apple TV, Amazon Prime and CuriosityStream platforms.
Narrated by Dr Sylvia Earle – the most well-known marine scientist in the world – Changing Ocean Asia shows the effects climate change is already having on Geo Hazards and the Ocean Dynamics in Asia. The ground-breaking series tells us about the research work being done by the Earth Observatory of Singapore to help find solutions for the people living in the region.
The Carousel spoke with the director, Liz, and she told us she was motivated to make this documentary series because she felt it was so important to inform the community and government about what is already happening and what will occur in the future in regards to climate change in the low-lying area of South-east Asia.
South-east Asia is a unique part of the world
“South-east Asia is a unique part of the world,” says Liz, “… featuring low-lying countries, pristine islands and vast coastal habitats. Six hundred million people across the region live in low elevation coastal zones, all vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding, storm surges and extreme weather events like tsunamis and typhoons.”
“The ocean is our planet’s life support system. It regulates our climate, absorbing huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and provides us with vast stores of food,” she added. “But the Ocean is in trouble. Population growth, rapid developments in infrastructure, climate change, and events happening far away in polar regions are impacting oceans, affecting all aspects of life across south-east Asia,” Liz said.
Here you can watch Dr Silvia Earle’s keynote speech at the premiere of Changing Ocean Asia.
The four key themes of the series
Changing Ocean Asia explores four key themes around the impacts of the changing ocean in each of its four parts. Each episode covers one of the themes and these are:
- Sinking Cities of Asia
- Extreme Weather. Powerful Tsunamis
- Urban Oceans. Super Corals
- Sea Level Rise. Engineering Solutions
As Liz says: “At least 4 billion people in the region rely on the ocean for their livelihood. The ocean provides us with over 70% of our oxygen, is the fundamental element of the climate system, and drives economic and social development across south-east Asia.”
While human activity has significantly increased, so has the level of greenhouse gas emissions and Liz adds: “The ocean has moderated the effects, absorbing more than 90% of excess heat and over 30% of excess carbon emissions, but their capacity to buffer our changing climate system is impacting the health of the ocean and the dynamic mechanisms which drive Geo Hazards and Rising Sea Levels in the region.”
Liz directed the series while she was The Artist in Residence for The Earth Observatory of Singapore at Nanyang Technological University, a prestigious role which reflects her depth of knowledge on climate and sustainability, and her ability to translate science into engaging digital, television and social media content.
More about Liz Courtney:
This is not the first notable project Liz has made about climate change. In 2010 she traded in her stilettos for snow boots and went on a voyage with 40 teenagers to Antarctica for the first Global Youth Climate Summit with Prof Robert Swan OBE. The series made history by also taking the first indigenous youth to the icy continent, offering a new cultural lens on climate change. While on the journey, Liz directed a documentary about the trip for Discovery, titled Cool School Antarctica.
Liz continued to create in the environmental area. She created The Unboxed Media Group, a platform which has seen her produce and direct notable projects, including: Earth’s Survival, Climate Hunter, Amazon on Fire, Mega Melt Greenland, Cool School Antarctica and The Tipping Points.
She has always been a passionate storyteller and to make her latest series, Changing Ocean Asia, she used the skills she learnt while working in brand strategy and communication for more than 20 years. In 2015, Liz was awarded 100 Women of Influence for her role bringing youth together across the world for “Youth for Planet” and in 2016 she was inducted into the Australian Business Women’s Hall of Fame.
In 2018, Liz delivered her first TEDx talk on “lateral thinking for Climate Solutions”, and she now sits on the boards for Women for Change, The National Foundation for Australian Women and Youth4Planet. In 2019, she co-founded The Sustainable Sports Program – a platform for youth engagement at a grassroots level to engage in sustainable solutions in their communities.
Here’s another quote from Liz: “Broadcasters we need your support, social media platforms we need your bandwidth, and bright young minds we need your inspiration to help us find and create the solutions that will bring about urgent carbon reductions, and economic change that supports the re-stabilisation of our climate system, to avoid dangerous Tipping Points now on our front doorstep.”
Changing Ocean Asia will be streaming from the 31st January on the CuriosityStream platform or any one of their partner platforms including Amazon Prime, Apple TV and StarHub.