Documentary channel

‘Chasing Coral’ documentary is a reminder that natural beauty comes with an expiry date

Jeff Orlowski’s timely film charts the attempts of scientists to arrest the slow death of the world’s coral reefs.

There is a scene in the new Netflix documentary Chasing Coral where the camera zooms in on the unending white of the coral reefs off the Florida coast. Shimmery, the unending beds of coral look striking even in their denuded beauty, until the narrator informs you that the white is a sign of death.

Director Jeff Orlowski, who made the 2012 documentary Chasing Ice, about the melting of the Antarctic glaciers, returns with a new production that scooped up the Audience Award for the Best Documentary at this year’s Sundance Festival. A look at the great underwater biomass and its frighteningly quick depletion, the film is equal parts scary and humbling.

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Chasing Coral.

Climate change remains a hotly debated topic, as American President Donald Trump’s quitting the Paris Accord attests. This is partly due to the unsettled science of the subject, as claims about a unidimensional global warming fail to find evidence with cyclic climate patterns. But overshadowed by the numbers and the bickering is a less visible aspect of the debate that Chasing Coral showcases.

Upto 93% of the heat energy trapped in the atmosphere by carbon dioxide (what is known as the greenhouse effect) is sunk into the oceans. The resultant temperature increase – of the order of a degree – may not be immediately discernible to humans or other land species but is striking for ocean life. It’s like, the documentary tells us, the human body temperature rising by a degree, which would be fatal.

To capture this effect, Orlowski puts together a team which comprises Richard Vevers, an advertising executive who shifted allegiance to the corals, and Zachary Rago, a camera expert and coral lover whose life’s aim is to shoot the corals in time-lapse photography.

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The art of Chasing Coral.

Indeed, the corals are a truly fascinating product of nature. They are animals that host tiny plants within them, plants that photosynthesise and provide food to the coral. They are the buildings of the underwater city, Orlowski tells us, within which thrive all manner of marine life, from the tiniest algae to the biggest fish.

With increasing temperatures, the plants stop photosynthesising and are eliminated by the coral, turning the body white, which is really the skeleton of the animal. Vevers and Rago travel to the Bahamas, Hawaii and Bermuda to capture this “bleaching”. For sceptics, the fact that this bleaching has taken place on a global scale twice since the ‘80s is a sobering thought, more evidence that climate change is a real phenomenon.

As with all nature photography, the most beautiful shots in the film are composed of underwater vistas of the corals in all their majesty. Even the dying white corals are revealed to subsequently emit a remarkable fluorescent colour, a “plea”, in Orlowski’s words, for the world to notice their plight.

The team’s final destination is Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest gathering of corals, an area that has also been affected by the depredations of warming. In 2016 alone, close to a fifth of the corals here died, a statistic that would have made heads turn if it happened to a species on land.

The ocean, from which all life began, is now giving us the signs of the disaster that lies in store for the planet should steps not be taken to halt the effects of global warming. Chasing Coral is a timely documentary, a chronicle both of the beauty that remains out of sight and therefore out of mind and of the urgent need to focus our energies on a matter that has been hijacked by politics.

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Advice from an ex-robber on how to keep your home safe

Tips on a more hands-on approach of keeping your house secure.

Home, a space that is entirely ours, holds together our entire world. Where our children grow-up, parents grow old and we collect a lifetime of memories, home is a feeling as much as it’s a place. So, what do you do when your home is eyed by miscreants who prowl the neighbourhood night and day, plotting to break in? Here are a few pre-emptive measures you can take to make your home safe from burglars:

1. Get inside the mind of a burglar

Before I break the lock of a home, first I bolt the doors of the neighbouring homes. So that, even if someone hears some noise, they can’t come to help.

— Som Pashar, committed nearly 100 robberies.

Burglars study the neighbourhood to keep a check on the ins and outs of residents and target homes that can be easily accessed. Understanding how the mind of a burglar works might give insights that can be used to ward off such danger. For instance, burglars judge a house by its front doors. A house with a sturdy door, secured by an alarm system or an intimidating lock, doesn’t end up on the burglar’s target list. Upgrade the locks on your doors to the latest technology to leave a strong impression.

Here are the videos of 3 reformed robbers talking about their modus operandi and what discouraged them from robbing a house, to give you some ideas on reinforcing your home.

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2. Survey your house from inside out to scout out weaknesses

Whether it’s a dodgy back door, a misaligned window in your parent’s room or the easily accessible balcony of your kid’s room, identify signs of weakness in your home and fix them. Any sign of neglect can give burglars the idea that the house can be easily robbed because of lax internal security.

3. Think like Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

You don’t need to plant intricate booby traps like the ones in the Home Alone movies, but try to stay one step ahead of thieves. Keep your car keys on your bed-stand in the night so that you can activate the car alarm in case of unwanted visitors. When out on a vacation, convince the burglars that the house is not empty by using smart light bulbs that can be remotely controlled and switched on at night. Make sure that your newspapers don’t pile up in front of the main-door (a clear indication that the house is empty).

4. Protect your home from the outside

Collaborate with your neighbours to increase the lighting around your house and on the street – a well-lit neighbourhood makes it difficult for burglars to get-away, deterring them from targeting the area. Make sure that the police verification of your hired help is done and that he/she is trustworthy.

While many of us take home security for granted, it’s important to be proactive to eliminate even the slight chance of a robbery. As the above videos show, robbers come up with ingenious ways to break in to homes. So, take their advice and invest in a good set of locks to protect your doors. Godrej Locks offer a range of innovative locks that are un-pickable and un-duplicable. To secure your house, see here.

The article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Godrej Locks and not by the Scroll editorial team.