The God Squad
February 11, 2007
This Sunday, UHC had the rare opportunity of a screening of a documentary by its writer, producer, director, and cinematographer Emily Hart.
On its surface, the The God Squad and the Case of the Northern Spotted Owl addresses the title species and others whose habit was endangered by unsustainable logging practices in Oregon, as well as the controversy caused by policies that challenged the human interests present in the area since the 19th century.
On a deeper and more universal level, this film is about how and why decisions are made. The timely issue of science versus special interests is addressed on both sides of the fence, as environmentally-focused organizations are called upon to back up their assertions of the destruction of habitat and the timber industry, in requesting an exemption to the Endangered Species Act, must demonstrate the human cost of leaving the contested area completely untouched.
The film balances Interviews with loggers of different generations, passionate biologists, and policymakers of all persuasions (the “God Squad”, whose decisions would decide the fate of an entire species) with breathtaking cinematography of virgin forests interrupted by broad swaths of clearcutting, delicate flowers in bloom, and the owls themselves, rewarding the patient viewer with a true sense of a place worth debating over.
UHC members with filmmaker Emily Hart (far right)
Ms. Hart was on hand to answer questions after the screening, which sparked some interesting discussions on some of the following:
- A growing body of precedent of public lands being best managed by people living there, who have a vested interest in balancing natural habitat with human interest.
- Recent U.S. policy on global warming characterized by a disregard for science (and potential innovation)
- The idea of natural habitat being often unrealistically exclusive of humans
- The shift in public perception of the value of one lone species. Ex.: overreliance on the owls as scapegoats rather than considering an entire ecosystem whose equilibrium is in question.
UHC looks forward to screening the film (and hopefully others, especially by Ms. Hart) to a broader audience.