Wendy J.N. Lee’s Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey powerfully connects the dots between the enormity of global warming as a phenomenon and the havoc it wreaks in ordinary lives.
The doc also pushes deeper to explore the spiritual underpinnings of the issue. In August 2010, a cloudburst dropped two inches of rain in 60 seconds onto Ladakh, India (known as Little Tibet, cradled in the Himalayas), triggering mudslides and flash floods that all but destroyed an area whose Buddhism-steeped culture is centuries old.
Scientists say the severity of the weather and its fallout is a consequence of global warming, which is laying waste to the region’s glaciers, the largest store of them outside the polar caps and the water source for 3 billion people.
To bring attention to the plight of those directly affected, as well as the larger problem of climate change, 700 activists from across the world joined Buddhist monks and nuns in 2011 for a 450-mile trek across the Himalayas to raise awareness and provide environmental education to local villages.
It’s an often harrowing journey, beset by injuries, some people’s dubious intentions, and brutal weather conditions that underscore the issue at hand.
But there’s humor and inspiration from numerous sources. The Kung Fu Nuns are especially fierce, while one of the monks makes it clear, “It’s wrong to call this a natural disaster. It’s a man-made disaster.”
Narrated by Daryl Hannah, the visually spectacular film was shot by Himalayan monk Ngawang Sodpa, using solar power.