The Annapolis Film Festival is thrilled to announce the premiere of the highly anticipated documentary feature film, “Canary,” on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023, at 7 pm in the Bowen Theater at Maryland Hall in association with the Goldstein Cunitz Film and New Media Center. Doors open at 6:30 PM. Tickets are available now. A cash-only RUSH LINE will be available at the door if tickets remain.
Dr. Lonnie Thompson, “the closest living thing to Indiana Jones” (says Harvard geochemist Daniel Schrag), blew the world away with his death-defying expeditions to the highest mountains on Earth. Over the course of nearly 70 expeditions to the highest and most remote places in the world, Lonnie spent more than four years of his life above 18,000 feet—more than anyone else on the planet. His extraordinary expeditions involve bringing six tons of equipment to the highest glaciers in the world to drill ancient histories from the ice. Lonnie’s findings include climate histories that go back hundreds of thousands of years, records of ancient volcanoes, and, most importantly, definitive evidence of human-caused climate change, the greatest threat we’ve ever faced to our civilization.
Lonnie grew up in poverty in a coal mining town in West Virginia. There, he developed an interest in science, after learning to predict the weather while using a weather station he built in his family’s barn. Though Lonnie wanted to be a scientist, he was destined for the coal mines. But when his dad suddenly died, Lonnie realized that life was too short for him to spend it in the coal mines. With everyone telling him not to get his hopes up, he worked four jobs to make enough money to send himself to college.
“No scientist has taken bigger risks”Vice President Al Gore on Dr. Lonnie Thompson
At Ohio State, Lonnie studied coal geology. One summer, he got the opportunity to go to Antarctica to study ice cores, which changed the course of his life forever. At the time, paleoclimate scientists focused only on glaciers closer to the North and South Poles. Lonnie dared to ask why no one was drilling ice from the glaciers sitting away from the poles on the tallest mountains in the world. The top scientists in the field told him those mountains were “too high for humans” and drilling ice cores there was impossible. Lonnie went anyway. After ten years of trying and failing, he finally defied the naysayers and brought back a historical record from the Quelccaya glacier in Peru, up at 19,000 feet. In the process, Lonnie opened up an entirely new frontier of scientific exploration and changed our understanding of the climate. One of the first people to study these glaciers, Lonnie became one of the first people on the planet to witness climate change firsthand when he came upon a massive lake that had formed seemingly overnight. The melting was so devastating that Lonnie spoke in front of Congress to start ringing the alarm bells of climate change. His plea to Congress fell flat, so he decided that more evidence would change their minds. Now that the lower-elevation glaciers had melted, Lonnie needed to go to higher and deadlier places to get evidence. Over the next decades, Lonnie pushed himself to greater heights but grew frustrated. He constantly risked his life and amassed literal tons of evidence of global warming, but nobody was changing their behavior. At this moment, Lonnie received a wake-up call: his doctor told him his heart was failing and he needed a heart transplant. Lonnie said, “You’re telling me this heart that has gotten me to the tops of all these mountains needs to be replaced? I don’t think so.” The man telling the world to listen to the facts on climate change ignored the facts about his failing heart and continued his expeditions.
Lonnie’s denial caught up with him. After a near-death experience, Lonnie was revived and hooked to a machine to stay alive. Unable to go to the mountains that he loved, Lonnie realized how susceptible we are all to denial when we are told difficult news about things that affect us and that he needed to listen to his doctor and get the heart transplant. This near-death experience allowed Lonnie to realize that data and facts alone are not the answer. The denial of human-caused climate change is as much a human emotional problem as it is a factual one and if Lonnie was going to make a difference on this issue, he needed to tell his story and allow himself to be more of an advocate.
Though Lonnie still explores the mountains, he now has a new lease on life. He now spends his time talking to large groups of people from China to South America to West Virginia, telling his story and how a kid destined for the coal mines became one of the leading climate scientists in the world. The story about his heart now shows everyone that we can all deny in the face of climate change. His story shows the importance of facing seemingly impossible challenges head-on and not giving up until we win: a lesson we all need in facing climate change.
For more information about joining the Annapolis Film Society for $100/year to receive early ticket access and discounts on festival passes, invitations to special receptions and screenings, or to sign up for our free newsletter visit www.annapolisfilmfestival.org. To purchase tickets $15/each to “Canary,” the Annapolis Film Festival, you may also visit our direct link at: https://annapolisfilmsociety.eventive.org/films/64ee42b629142f006cc33f87