Biology professor Phil Dustan is currently in New York City for the 39th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards Ceremony. Dustan helped inspire an investigative documentary that cautions audiences about the disastrous effects of climate change on global oceans.
The film, Chasing Coral, is up for three News and Documentary Emmy Awards, with the film competing in the categories of Outstanding Nature Documentary, Best Documentary and Outstanding Music and Sound.
Anyone not aware that the world has lost half of its coral reefs in the past 30 years should really watch the Netflix documentary. Chasing Coral paints a grim future of an earth without coral – which means a world without much of its marine life.
Dustan is featured in the award-winning documentary, showing the filmmakers the destruction of the Carysfort Reef off the coast of Florida. This catapults the team to travel around the world to document the wide-spread destruction of coral under the water.
The College of Charleston professor has studied the Carysfort Reef since the 1970s, and has frequently thought over the years about how to advertise the grave destruction of global warming on the ocean.
“This film gave a voice to coral reefs that we haven’t had since Jacques Cousteau,” says Dustan.
In May, Chasing Coral won a Peabody Award for “bringing climate change and its deadly consequences into sharp and immediate focus.” Named for American businessman and philanthropist George Peabody, the Peabody Awards honor excellence in storytelling in television, radio and online media.
“Somehow, in spite of the scope of the tragedy, the documentary nevertheless remains hopeful, calling for engagement and urging action,” Peabody host Hasan Minhaj told the audience before presenting the award.
In Chasing Coral, Dustan positions us in the driver’s seat of climate change by asking, “Do we need trees? Do we need forests? Do we need reefs? Or do we just sort of want to live in the ashes of all of it?”
The plight of coral reefs is telling us that the oceans are in trouble, says Dustan. Without a healthy ocean, the professor asserts, we cannot have a healthy planet for humans or many other forms of life.
The 39th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards Ceremony starts at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.