Global warming and globalization are two phenomenons that have gained worldwide attention over the past few decades. These two occurrences have had significant impacts on the environment and mankind.
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The 2005 film “Time and Tide” produced by the National Geographic channel under the directorship of Julie Bayer and Josh Salzman seeks to address these two major issues in a particular country. The film is set in the island nation of Tuvalu, which stretches for 700 miles in the South Pacific. It focuses on how global warming and globalization have affected Tuvalu within a period of 2 decades.
The film follows sixty expatriates living in New Zealand who embark on a two-month trip to their home island of Funafuti, the capital of Tuvalu. When this group arrives in their native city, they realize that it has undergone major changes in the 20 years that they have been away. Climate changes have caused the level of the ocean to rise with devastating effects. The rising sea has submerged part of the island leading to the displacement of many of the people who lived by the shore.
Global warming is considered a major catastrophe facing the world today. However, many people do not seem to make a connection between global warming and their lives since these changes are at most times affecting places that are far away.
Furthermore, we are not directly affected by global warming’s adverse impacts and we fail to see how our lifestyle here affects people elsewhere. The film brought to my attention the real image of people who are affected by the rise in sea level. By witnessing the difficulties that people faced because of rising sea levels, the film helped bring the issue closer to me.
The other major theme addressed by the film is globalization. The returning expatriates realize that the island has experienced great western influences. These influences have extended to the capital’s economy and its culture.
An analysis of the comments and the emotions expressed by the individuals in the film concerning the current state of affairs in Funafuti brings a greater understanding of how globalization affects people. From the film, I have come to understand that while the reality of globalization is ignored by people in the developed world, it is changing the lives of many in the developing nations.
The high degree of westernization caused one of the expatriates to lose interest in Tuvalu. This occurrence clearly shows that maintaining cultural identity is important especially for the older generation. The film reveals that in spite of the expatriates concerns about the effects of globalization, western ideas and values have been reaching Tuvalu rapidly.
Major investments by foreign companies altered the landscape of the capital. Due to this interaction with people from outside the country, locals have grown to believe that money is the ultimate source of happiness. As a fisherman in the film laments, “A brother would sell fish to his brother now”. The identity of the community is rapidly being changed by external forces.
In spite of the concerns and frustration expressed by many elderly citizens of Tuvalu about the effects of external forces, I am of the opinion that the ancestors of Tuvalu anticipated these changes. The lyrics from a traditional song assert that “make the right decisions, now you are now a part of a global village, go with confidence, and do not panic, never look back”. This suggests that the ancestors of Tuvalu viewed globalization as an opportunity to join the global village and make positive changes.
To me, one of the positive changes alluded to in these lyrics is that people will have more opportunities to go outside Tuvalu. While some of the older generation citizens might see this as a negative change, I believe it is positive. When people have opportunities to go outside of their countries, they are able to perceive good and bad points about their nation that they did not notice before. In this way, globalization helps people to be more appreciative of their local culture and traditions therefore fostering unity.
The film also brought to my attention the fact that the culture of a developing country such as Tuvalu is more resilient and able to withstand changes to a greater degree. We tend to think that local traditions in the third world countries will be wiped out by Western culture. It is true that outside forces are a lot more powerful than internal forces as the leader of Funafuti mentions. However, they can coexist in a society if efforts are made to maintain these cultural identities.
The story in the film was narrated through the eyes of a group of expatriates from Tuvalu. It helped increase my awareness of what is happening in Tuvalu and caused me to consider how countries could confront global warming and globalization.
For Tuvalu, the solution to the climate change problem is for the country to join the United Nations and urge the international community to reduce the threat of global warming for future generations. On the issue of globalization, the country will have to sacrifice some of its traditions in order to benefit from the rest of the world.
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The nation of Tuvalu will have to recognize that cultures are constantly changing and being recreated as part of an ongoing process. The country’s culture should therefore be ready to be shaped by external forces. The film was successful in increasing my awareness of what is happening in Tuvalu. It made me understand why local traditions and the environment are to be valued and protected.
Julie, Bayer and Josh Salzman, dir. Time and Tide. National Geographic Channel, 2005. Film.