The department of international studies informed students of the harm industrial waste can cause in its showing of “Manufactured Landscapes” in the John L. Grove Forum last Tuesday.
The latest film in the “Environment in a Global Context” series followed Canadian photographer, Edward Burtynsky, as he visited countries like Bangladesh and China. He sought to showcase the effects that major manufacturing plants have on the different environmental landscapes around the world.
Jonathan Skaff, director of Shippensburg University’s international studies department, and professor Robert Stephens of the international business department hosted the film.
Stephens was particularly eager about showing the film, saying that it will change students’ perspective on the world.
The start of the documentary set a gloomy tone that it retained throughout the rest of the feature.
The first five minutes of the film consisted of the sound of machines, and the sight of hundreds of people at work in a Chinese factory.
The film displayed many troubling scenes and images. These instances included pictures of trash that looked as if it spanned for miles, as well as video of factory workers sifting through heaps of dangerous metal scraps, looking for recyclable material.
“We come from nature and have to understand what it is,” Burtynsky said. “If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.”
Burtynsky described how he got lost in Pennsylvania one day and ended up driving into a coal mining town named Frackville. This experience inspired him to get involved with photographing different environmentally-affected landscapes across the planet.
The film revealed that 50 percent of the world’s computers end up in China to be recycled and used for materials.
China poorly discarded the e-waste, which caused the toxic materials inside the waste to end up in the ocean. This led to the contamination of China’s water table, which is the level below the ground’s saturation.
The film took viewers to Bangladesh to show the harsh conditions of workers. The young men tore apart ships and had to remove sludge from the bottom of oil tankers.
Burtynsky explained how the mere need for oil can visually affect a landscape.
“No matter what we do, we just can’t get enough [oil] to supply the world demand,” Burtynsky said.
One of the last issues the film highlighted was the work that went into China’s famous Three Gorges Dam. The Three Gorges Dam is the largest dam in the world and took 17 years to build. Chinese workers labored for 30 yuan, or $4.45 a day to build the dam.
“It’s just work. It’s all for our country,” one worker said.
The Chinese government invested a lot of energy and resources into building the dam. They tore down whole cities to make way for the barrier.
Clouds and fog obscured the sun, which was seldom seen during the movie. This contributed to the grim undertone of the documentary.
The next movie in the “Environment in a Global Context” series is “Land of Hope,” a movie about a nuclear incident driving a family away from their home.
The department of international studies will show the movie on Feb. 19 at 4 p.m. in the Grove Forum.