If you’ve ever doubted the power of the printed word, strike up a conversation with one Sven Huseby, whose entire life was changed by one article in the New Yorker.
The retired history teacher found himself one day reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Darkening Sea” and the next traveling all over the world in search of answers about ocean acidification—with a documentary film crew tailing him all the way. The result is A Sea Change, a film about the largely underreported effects of excess carbon dioxide on the chemistry of our sensitive seas.
One reviewer has called it a “global warming horror documentary.” And there is certainly plenty to fear as Huseby—and the audience—learns more and more about the threat of ocean acidification. He interviews scientists who tell him 118 billion metric tons (or 118 billion VW Bugs worth) of CO2 have already been absorbed by the ocean. He watches the enamel of a human tooth quickly dissolve after sitting in a cupful of carbonated water. He listens during a conference where scientists ask each other how they missed this big issue—and whether we’re already screwed (answer: probably).
But despite all this, A Sea Change emerges as more love story than horror flick. For one, the film is centered around Huseby’s relationship with his (almost unbearably adorable) grandson, Elias, who serves as both sidekick-style comic relief and helpful narrative device as Huseby reports on the progress of his quest. The gap-toothed five-year-old is incredibly precocious and knowledgeable about the ocean environment (“no, it’s a lungfish!” he says, pointing to a drawing he’s made in the sand)—perhaps it’s an inherited trait.
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