In 2018, the Californian town of Paradise was destroyed by a wildfire. How did it happen? Could anything have been done to limit or even stop the inferno?
Global warming has made the risk of wildfires greater than ever before, and there are people who believe that we are doing all that we can to stop them. As Trip Jennings tells Matthew Sherwood, however, he was tired of hearing this message. And so, he spent five years researching wildfires. The result is Elemental, a documentary that reveals there is more that we can do, and in some cases, easily, as well. Paradise could have been saved.
Trip’s research has taken him from a flight over a wildfire to special hangers where scientists burn replicas of homes in order to observe the fire’s behaviour. He has explored how America’s indigenous people have responded to fires, and met fire survivors, as well as many experts who share their knowledge in the film.
It would be easy for Elemental to be a pessimistic film, full of anger about what has happened and is happening, but that is not Trip’s way. He tells Matthew that we need to forgive ourselves and evolve our way of thinking. As part of that, he outlines specific ways in which we can make our homes, and our lives, safer. He also stands up for forests. They may be lethal when set alight, but they also have a critical role to play in the life of planet earth and Mankind.
“... it's things like boring, non-sexy details that we should think of as doing important climate adaptation work... we shouldn't be thinking about, oh it's just drudgery... we should be thinking about these things as how we adapt as a society to climate change, which is the challenge of all of the generations that are present right now on Earth” – Trip Jennings