It’s a virtual sound and light show on April 26 that DamTRUTH believes will leave you affected emotionally, informed substantially and motivated helpfully. The light comes from an award-winning documentary – Damned to Extinction – about the plight of Southern Resident Orca whales in Puget Sound.
The sound comes from four experts – in economics, engineering and biology – who will make it clear that the four dams on the lower Snake River are causing the near extinction of the Chinook salmon the whales depend on for their survival.
The two documentary makers have written books, won awards, and shared an abiding love of the outdoor and wild rivers. Damned to Extinction features Ken Balcomb, an Orca researcher, who’s been studying the southern residents for more than 40 years.
The documentary shows how four deadbeat damns choke off thousands of miles of high, wild and pristine river and stream habitat on what was the largest Chinook-producing river on earth. The pictures are spectacular: Orcas breaching, a mother carrying her dead calf for days, the wild, rocky coastline.
But it’s the soundbites from a young girl, enchanted by the mammals, who knows them by number and name, that are unforgettable. She’s in a boat, the Northwest coast in the distance, camera in her hand, an Orca in her sight. She says quietly , ”My first favorite was J-28, Polaris. She died. My second favorite was J-34. He died.”
The whale scientist has the answer. Eighty percent of the Orca’s diet is salmon, says Balcomb, and the best way to bring them back is to get rid of the fish-killing dams 500 miles away. Studying whales is science. Removing dams is politics and Balcomb says, defiantly, mixing the two has become his most important work.
The panelists who follow the documentary will talk about some of the politics: how millions of dollars have been spent by taxpayers on studies whose recommendations have been ignored and how the power produced by the four dams flows when it’s not needed, costs more than electricity from other sources and requires subsidies from the BPA.
DamTRUTH hopes you can join in for the free showing and that the words and pictures move and motivate you to join us in the battle. It’s more than the fish. It’s about the future, about a free-flowing river, Orca whales and the people who like to watch them, name them and love them.
Join Meaningful Movies Bellevue for the 2019 documentary film Dammed to Extinction, followed by guest speakers who will address issues raised in the film. Open to all ages. You can copy this zoom link into your calendar for April 26.