The call for Kid Reporter applications is now open! Click here to learn more.

Helping a Planet in Peril

Batfish play a key role in eating algae that otherwise destroys coral reefs.
Batfish play a key role in eating algae that otherwise destroys coral reefs.

Batfish play a key role in eating algae that otherwise destroys coral reefs.

When he was 22, Rob Stewart traveled the world for four years. He wanted to call attention to the mistreatment of sharks. His 2007 film, Sharkwater, documents the cruel practice of removing sharks’ fins for profit and leaving the animals to die. In his latest documentary, Revolution, Stewart takes on an even bigger challenge: climate change.

The Canadian filmmaker says that climate change has harmed people and places everywhere: “It is stronger than any government or corporation. If we educate people, they will make better decisions” about conserving natural resources.



According to a recent report by a United Nations panel on climate change, “The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen.” These developments are endangering crops, wildlife, fish, and even people. Droughts have led to water shortages in the United States, Australia, and Brazil, among other places.

Stewart says that the consequences of climate change will be irreversible unless people take action, especially young people. “It’s up to kids to be the moral compass of society,” he believes, “to say, ‘Guys, this is not right.’”

Many kids took action after seeing Sharkwater. Elementary school students in the Northern Mariana Islands, for example, got their local government to ban the sale of shark fins.



Felix Finkbeiner, 17, of Germany is also part of the “revolution” to save the planet. In 2007, Felix started a youth group called Plant-for-the-Planet, whose motto is “Stop Talking. Start Planting.” The group raises money to plant trees, which absorb pollutants and release oxygen back into the air. So far, Plant-for-the-Planet has planted nearly 200 trees around the world. “Future generations are the ones who will be suffering the most from inaction,” Felix told me via email. His goal is to plant millions of additional trees.

“When we started four years ago,” Felix tells Stewart in Revolution, “we thought we had to save the polar bear. We thought we had to save the environment. But soon after, we found out that it’s about our future, that we have to save our own future.”

Learn more about Revolution, which opens in theaters on Earth Day.

Photo by Rob Stewart