Environmental Quality / 2013

Sustainable Works Presents Dr. Keeling’s Curve

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Sustainable Works a Project of Community Partners

Our idea is to mount the production of Dr. Keeling’s Curve, starring Mike Farrell, in 10 different venues in the greater Los Angeles area, with a focus on reaching underserved communities. Dr. Keeling’s Curve is a play that both entertains and enlightens. It is the story of how one man came to discover the impact of carbon dioxide on our planet’s health and well-being. What he learned of course, is that the rising levels of CO2 are the primary cause of global warming. As a side note, when Al Gore was an undergraduate at Harvard, it was Dr. Keeling’s Curve that inspired his interest in the environment, which of course culminated in the academy award winning film An Inconvenient Truth. Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, the senior scientist as NRDC, said the following in an interview with the New York Times in October 2012: “We are dealing with a gigantic problem and there is no one large undertaking that any individual or business or country can do to solve our ecological problems. It will take billions of people making highly intelligent choices.” So how do you get billions of people to make highly intelligent choices? By educating them; first hundreds, then thousands, than hundreds of thousands, then millions, and eventually those millions add up to billions. The power of live theater, done well, can be transformative. When I attended a performance of Dr. Keeling’s Curve at The Blank Theater, I knew Sustainable Works needed to bring this play to as wide an audience in Los Angeles as possible. By doing so, we would be educating thousands of people on the issue of global warming in a way that would motivate them to do something about the problem.


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Since 1998, Sustainable Works has educated over 4,000 residents and instructed over 5,500 community college students on issues of sustainability. We have also advised over 400 businesses so they now operate more sustainably. Specifically, they conserve water and energy, produce less waste, use less toxic chemicals and purchase greener products.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

The Blank Theater

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

We will gauge success in 3 ways:

  1. By the strength of performance attendance
  2. By audience response to a brief post performance questionnaire
  3. By contributions collected for Sustainable Works. Admission to the performances is free. However, following the example set by Panera Bread in some of their restaurants, attendees at our plays will be encouraged to pay whatever they feel comfortable paying.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

By telling the story of climate change in the form of a provocative play, starring a well known and respected actor, we will reach thousands of people who might otherwise not have been exposed to this crucial information.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

In our vision for the year 2050 Los Angeles would be the greenest city in the country and one of the greenest cities on the planet