mechilling new video released by fridays for futurethe youth-led climate movement inspired by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, filmmakers capture how escalating wildfires have ravaged California’s picturesque landscapes in hopes of sparking an urgent call to action.
In the short video, titled “I Love You, California,” the camera slowly pans over the aftermath of the megafires: apocalyptic scenes of smoking canyons, communities reduced to rubble and lush hillsides that were once blackened moonscapes. The film is soundtracked by a haunting rendition of the California state song, accompanied only by the sounds of the hushed, whispering wind.
“California’s regional anthem, adopted in 1951, celebrates the beauty of California’s rich and diverse natural landscape, from redwood forests to natural exports of honey, fruit and wine,” the filmmakers said in a statement. “Today, these lyrics sound more painful than joyful to residents who are forced to watch these same forests and grain fields burn year after year.”
Fires have always been a part of the landscapes of the western US and are an essential part of many ecosystems that evolved alongside them. But the climate crisis has raised the bar, fueling a brutal new kind of wildfire more likely to leave devastation in its wake.
In the past six years, the state has seen its eight largest fires on record, 13 of the 20 most destructive firesand three of the five deadliest fires.
The film’s release coincides with the global climate strike, a set of international demonstrations culminating around youth-led demands for lawmakers to act, launching on Friday. Centered around the #PeopleNotProfit theme, this year’s actions include calls for transformative justice reparations to address systemic inequalities exacerbated by the climate crisis.
While the video is only part of the actions organized in the US, it highlights how life in the most populous state in the US has already been marked by dangerous environmental changes that are expected to intensify in the coming years. .
“The climate crisis is no longer an abstract future or news about a distant country. It’s here, it’s now,” Katharina Maier, national coordinator for Fridays for Future US, said in a written statement, urging others to join the movement.
Rising temperatures have intensified drought conditions in the western United States, leaving parched plants primed to burn. Dry and dying vegetation has become tinder that spurs the flames faster and higher, creating conflagrations that cannot be controlled.
These types of fires are increasingly damaging to the environments they once helped, and far more dangerous to the communities in their path. As conditions change, fire season has also increased the strain on resources and fatigued first responders. The problem is expected to get worse as the world continues to warm.
“Growing up in California, it’s impossible not to see the devastating effects of fires on everything around you,” said Kiyomi Morrison, a second-generation California native and junior art director at Fred & Farid, the Los Angeles-based agency. Angeles who produced the video in collaboration with Fridays for Future. Hers is the voice that echoes over the images, and she hopes it will inspire action towards a different future.
“As just one of the dire realities of climate change,” he said, “I hope this can bring more awareness to the current path we are headed on.”