02 December 2022

Climate ‘short’ featuring UEA academic goes viral


    By Tara Greaves, Research Assistant, School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication, UEA

    If we are going prevent catastrophic climate breakdown, we are going to need to use every tool in the box. For eco-philosopher and activist Rupert Read that includes finding new and innovative ways to engage with the large number of people who want to play their part but can’t or won’t go as far as gluing themselves to roads or throwing soup over art. 

    In a bid to inspire and energise the ‘moderate flank’, as he describes them, Prof Read, an Associate Professor of Philosophy, applied for and received a grant from UEA to commission a short film with members of the team behind the 2009 documentary film, The Age Of Stupid

    Out of the Ashes builds on Prof Read’s work, including his book This Civilisation is Finished, and promotes the message that while climate breakdown is upon us, if we act now, it's not too late to influence how bad things get. The 2 min and 20 second short was released on November 7 2022, to coincide with the start of the CoP27 climate summit in Egypt.


    Prof Read, a former spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion and co-director of the new Moderate Flank Incubator, said: “This is a very exciting project but, more than that, I hope it will highlight this most critical of issues in a new and innovative way that will help more people understand what we are up against. 

    “The idea is to raise awareness of different possible climate futures – bad ones and better ones – to help people imagine what the future could be like, depending on what we do now.”

    The short was written by Franny Armstrong, who is also executive producer, and was shot in London in October against a green screen before Martyn Pick, director of live action/animation, and his team worked to bring it to life. It has been viewed more than 250,000 times since its release across various social media.

    He said: “As academics we have a responsibility to not just sit on the sidelines. Having a moderate flank emerge in the academic world, where academics take action AS academics on the crisis, is crucial. Most of us are not going to lie in roads or glue ourselves to art like those in the radical flank but we are going to commit to use our teaching and research to get serious about there being a future.”

    As well as doing work with the general public, Prof Read has also taken his awareness building into the classroom – and believes all academics, whatever their field, have a responsibility to talk about this issue.

    He was pleased to see the emergence of Faculty for a Future, a community of academics who feel a duty of care over Earth’s colliding social and environmental crises – and want their work to better meet them through creativity and action.

    Faculty for a Future also aims to transform the institutions in which they work “to push management and funding practices to embrace and embody urgently needed societal transformation”.