HYSTERESIS - THE WRITTEN PITCH:
It's important that people understand how today’s actions affect the future. This can be done in an entertaining way by presenting a couple of future scenarios in a feature film:
1. “catastrophic” in which actions in the near future, such as deep Arctic drilling, force “hysteresis” (near runaway warming) and the possible demise of humanity; and
2. “not so bad,” in which total destruction is averted by our better climate mitigation efforts.
HYSTERESIS does this through the mechanism of time travel from these harmed distant futures to our near future.
The 116-page script, HYSTERESIS, starts with a deep water Arctic Ocean oil rig explosion in our near future like the explosion in the DEEP HORIZON movie, but much worse. This releases gigatons of methane, causing warming to spiral out of control faster than it would have.
By 2273 the only habitable place is the Arctic and life is dying out there. May’s malnourished son dies and the autocratic Imperium executes her husband for stealing food. Insurgents fighting the Imperium over resources only worsen the situation.
Time travel has just been invented. The Imperium orders soldier May to go back in time to our near future and save Noah Hauke’s life. He’s a gentle soul, a recluse living in Colorado’s wilderness who writes eco-pacifist articles and books. He’s set to start working for President Tomlin when he falls down a cliff and dies. The Imperium wants want May to use Noah and gain access to the White House. Her mission: assassinate the President to prevent him from permitting the drilling that led to the explosion or they will execute her daughter Rachel in four days.
Two iconic scenes in Act Two are New York City and DC in the future:
The saucer flies over submerged New York City ruins at the strike of red dawn. Crumbling skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty jut up from the water. No people.
The saucer approaches DC. Hills of rubble and ruin denuded of life. The Capitol Building and Washington Monument stick up from a rust-brown bay. No White House. …[On Mount St. Alban] May akimbo near the saucer looks at the submerged, ruined capitol beyond Northwest DC rubble. Noah behind is shocked.
That last one would make a good poster.
While the word HYSTERESIS may be unfamiliar to most, it has the ring of “hysteria” and resonates with May and Noah’s PTSD. In climate science “hysteresis” means reaching tipping points in the warming and its effects which make difficult, if not impossible, for the system to revert to its previous unwarmed state; the warming takes on a life of it’s own from positive feedbacks in the system, despite our efforts to mitigate it.
Complications arise in Act Two. A hitman hired by an oil executive is trying to kill Noah; his fall that killed him was no accident. May misses opportunities to meet Tomlin and is mistaken for eco-terrorist Francine. And she starts to fall for eco-pacifist Noah and his ideas.
In Act Three Noah influences May to try to convince President Tomlin rather than assassinate him. Figuring her crazy, Tomlin decides to okay the deep water Arctic drilling – a year earlier than previously. Aghast May figures the future will be much worse than before and her daughter’s life will be in jeopardy.
However, when she returns to her time the future is much better with less harms, though still substantial. There’s life and civilization in the lower 48. The problem is no one in that time knows or recognizes May. She was never married and had no children. She finally gets clearance to return to our near future to work for a better future and to be with Noah, the only one with whom she has precious shared memories. But will soldier May, who fights and kills people, and eco-pacifist Noah overcome their differences to find a bit of personal happiness?
STATEMENT OF INTENT:
HYSTERESIS includes some climate science in an unobtrusive way through dialogue, character, action/description, and story. The script explores various climate effects now and into the future, various activisms, politics, and solutions.
The basis for the story is runaway hysteresis conditions from release of methane from hydrates (ice “cages”) in the Arctic Ocean. The warming we’re causing is now beginning to melt these hydrates and release methane into the atmosphere, which causes more warming, causing more release, and so on, taking the matter out of our hands to solve. For dramatic, but realistic effect HYSTERESIS starts with an oil rig explosion in the deep Arctic Ocean releasing methane even more quickly from deep sea quakes and landslides. It’s the speed of release that is the problem. In actuality oil giants are now exploring ways to get at that huge deep Arctic oil dome, which would be very risky.
HYSTERESIS’s future 250 years later is a dying world. Heroine May explains to Noah how soil in the Arctic circle, the only inhabitable place, is very poor and without adequate time to amend it crops are failing. Noah himself loses his Colorado cabin in the near future to a terrific mudslide after a mega-fire, worse than the devastating 2013 Boulder area mudslide. A knock-on effect of climate change included in HYSTERESIS is conflict and wars as suggested in academic studies and a tendency towards both despotism and anarchy, sort of a MAD MAX world.
The climate ravaged future and family deaths have hit May hard and toughened her, forcing her away from her parents’ eco-pacifist religion into a fierce soldier. Noah, a gentle soul in our near present, is a devout pacifist and recluse, into personal actions to mitigate climate change. Both are wounded persons suffering PTSD. They arc in opposite directions coming closer together, but is it enough to bring them together? The ending alludes to holistic solutions to the climate crisis – activism, government policies, AND personal efforts.