Locally produced film explores effects and options

“Comfort Zone,” a feature-length documentary exploring the effects of climate change in Upstate New York, will be screened at three local venues: Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in the Grange Hall 1, 58 W. Main St., Fredonia; Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. in Jewett Hall 101 on the SUNY Fredonia campus; and Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the SUNY Incubator at 214 Central Ave. in Dunkirk.

The film was produced and directed by Rochester residents Kate Kressmann-Kehoe, Sean P. Donnelly and David S. Danesh.

“Comfort Zone” takes an in-depth look at what happens when global climate issues come to one’s backyard. The film candidly examines the pragmatic reality of climate change effects on everyday life in Upstate New York. The film’s locations include iconic Upstate New York sites such as Letchworth State Park, Braddock Bay, the Highland Park Lilac Festival and the Finger Lakes.

What does climate change mean in a region where it may not seem like an obvious threat? Upstate New York is not concerned with rising sea levels, and many wish its climate was a little warmer. But the search for answers to how our region is affected by this global phenomenon and what we can do about it offers no easy answers.

“There are a lot of things here we take for granted that could be gone and it would be a very different place,” co-producer Kate Kressmann-Kehoe said. The film highlights how Western New York residents’ daily lives will be affected, from winter sports, to lake levels, to food and gardening. In Buffalo, summers could include an average of two weeks over 100 degrees.

Arming the community with the right information was a goal for the filmmakers. “I want to see us do the right thing as a society and we are not going to do the right thing if we don’t have the right information,” Sean Donnelly notes.

Local experts have this to say about global climate change:

“If we take New York and we warm it up four degrees that’s like moving it .to almost Virginia.” – Art DeGaetano, Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University.

“I used to teach my students in introductory classes that when we had climate change issues, that these were things that could take hundreds of thousands of years. We now know from the ice core records that decade time scales can be involved, which changes everything.” – John Tarduno, Professor of Geophysics, University of Rochester

And the film doesn’t shy away from the difficulty of changing course. “The threat to our way of life is huge. Everything we do is completely dominated by the use of fossil fuels. It’s pulling the rug out from under all of us.” says Rochester-based author Bob Siegel. “If the people on this planet need to change the way they live, how will they? I believe this is the burning question of our time,” Dave Danesh, co-producer said.

“Comfort Zone” bravely conveys an inspirational message for the community, urging everyone to stay engaged and aware of the world around us.

All three screenings are sponsored by the SUNY FACE Center and the Unitarian Universalists Congregation of Northern Chautauqua. For further information or questions, please contact Dr. Sherri A. Mason at 673-3292 or mason@fredonia.edu. Running time: 67 minutes.