Tri Beta, the national biological honor society, is hosting a screening for an environmental awareness documentary.
The film, Racing Extinction, sheds light on the underground world of endangered species trade. A team of investigators go undercover to showcase horrific cases of animal cruelty and the impact of carbon emissions on marine life.
The film features Leilani Münter, a professional racecar driver. Münter will participate in a Q&A session with students after the screening, which will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Homsey Hall in Sarkey’s Science and Mathematics Center.
Münter is one of the top female professional racecar drivers in the world and an activist for environmental protection. She is an ambassador for the National Wildlife Federation and was named the No. 1 Eco Athlete in the world by the Discovery Channel’s Planet Green network, according to her website, leilani.green.
She has lobbied at Capitol Hill for environmental legislation, in addition to becoming an electric car advocate and driver-on and off the track-and a protester against the hunting of dolphins. She also adopts an acre of rainforest for every race that she runs, and she is on the board for the Ocean Preservation Society.
Her slogan is: “never underestimate a vegan hippie chick with a race car.”
“When I started racing, I was able to use my voice as an athlete to talk about this issues that I cared about,” Münter said. “It helped me amplify the activism message.”
Münter said she focuses on three main points of environmental awareness: electric cars, vegan diet and overpopulation. She became a part of the film to raise environmental awareness on a larger platform.
Münter said she has been passionate about environmental issues since she was a kid.
“I remember trying to get people to recycle when I was in grade school,” Münter said.
“Earth is a finite planet,” Münter said.” She has a finite amount of resources. She has a finite amount of land. The more people there are, the more animals we are going to lose, the more wild places are going to be cut down. We are really trashing our own backyard.”
She said she hopes people can be educated about the issue of environmental harm.
“It’s hard for people to see the big picture,” Münter said. “My hope is that the younger generation like students at OCU who come to see the movie will share it and will make changes and influence people around them.”
Dr. Terry Phelps, professor of English, worked with Michael Anderson, the film curator for the Oklahoma Museum of Art, and Charlie Amis, a representative for Racing Extinction, to show the film at OCU.
Phelps said Münter volunteered to participate in a Q&A in conjunction with the screening.
Phelps said he hopes many students and people from the community will watch the film and learn more about the issues.
“I read some years ago that, even if we were to stop all the pollution, the damage has already been put in process, and it’s going to happen—and we’re not stopping. It’s going to get worse and worse,” he said.
The film focuses on a topic that many people aren’t aware of: illegal poaching and endangered species trade, Phelps said.
“This film does a really good job at showing some of these atrocities,” Phelps said.
Wildlife trade is second only to the drug market in respect to illegal trade, according to the movie.
Madison Snow, biomedical junior and member of Tri Beta, said it’s important for people to know about environmental issues.
“Racing Extinction is about the harmful effect that humankind has had on other species, which could potentially lead to the loss of diversity. It’s important that we spread awareness of this issue, and providing a public viewing of Racing Extinction is one way of doing so,” she said.
Laura Jardine, biomedical senior and Tri Beta president, said she hopes the film will motivate people to act on environmental awareness.
“Tri Beta is hosting this event because we really care about sharing important science with the OCU community. This human-caused extinction event is a growing problem, and awareness and education are the first steps to dealing with it,” she said.
Photo provided by Munter and taken by Scott LePage.