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The way people live, the cars used by humans, their need for more farmland and their love for all things plastic are putting a hurt on ecosystems all over the world. According to an online article in The Guardian, human activity, all by itself, could be responsible for the extinction of nearly one-thousand plant and animal species to date–most of them, over the last century (Hance 13). The 2008 film The Happening, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, features Elliot Moore (played by Mark Wahlberg), a science teacher, and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel), and is set in Pennsylvania farmland. A threat to humanity occurs after a series of violent, inexplicable deaths occur across the country and Elliot and friends must escape from the grasp of the invisible killer. As the plot unfolds, it was discovered that the invisible killers were the trees and plants in the Northeast section of the U.S. The film reveals that the plants release neurotoxins that cause people to kill themselves because of years of pollution and global warming that has negatively affected the ecosystems. Analytical viewers recognize M. Night Shyamalan’s disaster movie The Happening as a masterfully constructed film about an environmental phenomenon occurring because of human behavior and their inability to accept their part in environmental upheaval, a theory that was discussed and presented in the film. Because of its focus on plants and scientific reasoning, the film invites scholarly attention to the way that it presents compelling scenarios and an analogy to a real-life phenomenon–algal blooms (also known as red tides). In the innovative scholarly anthology The Landscape of Hollywood Westerns, editor Deborah A. Carmichael scrutinizes the importance of nature and popular films, in hopes to enlighten readers on the important role that the natural world plays in American Western films. Carmichael, associate editor of Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies, uses land, landscape, and ecology as the central motif for explaining the relevance of Western films (Parschall 4), also seen in Chapter 2 of the anthology: “Nature Conquering or Nature Conquered in The Wind (1928)”, written by Freedonia Parschall and Robert G. Weiner. Parschall and Weiner eloquently compare and contrast the element of wind as a prevalent component in the film and book The Wind. The two authors note that the portrayal of nature as harsh and uncivilized in The Wind is used as a stage for viewing nature “as something that deserves to be subdued by humanity” (Parschall and Weiner 51). Parschall reveals that the wind is a character, both in the film and in the novel, just as the wind is personified in The Happening in order to express the plant’s backlash towards humans unappreciation of all the benefits that the natural world provides for free. The authors unveil that the aspect of nature was central to the plot and the wind, dust, and sand are used as a precursor of evil (Parschall 53). Similar to Letty in The Wind, the characters in The Happening become frantic as the wind begins to enter homes and cars (Parschall 52). The wind exhibits the harsh natural environment that “humanity is always trying to conquer” (Parschall 51); in the film The Happening, humanity cannot fathom the idea that, after years of human misbehavior towards the environment, plants could be responding defensively by releasing toxins into the wind. Instead, both main protagonists in The Happening and in The Wind, do not comprehend that their behaviors were the leading cause of the environmental upheaval that occurred.In the thought provoking scholarly book Communicating Nature, Julia B. Corbett explores and elaborates on how influential everyday communication is to individuals’ perceptions of the natural world (Corbett 30). Corbett, professor in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah and former reporter, develops her claim by considering all levels of communication, from miniscule and ordinary conversations to communication produced by various outlets that influence public perceptions, such as media outlets, political agencies, and educational organizations (40). In the context of the book, Corbett narrows in on land-based ethics as a means to identifying the root causes of humanity’s prevalent treatment of and relationship with the natural world (40). Through her analysis of human communication and perceptions of environmental responsibility, she finds that humans are more and more likely to become blinded towards their own faults in environmental upheaval (Corbett 41). Corbett analyzes A Sand County Almanac (1948) by Aldo Leopold and concludes that Leopold makes a case for “land ethics”, as he recognizes that humans have duties and obligations in their treatment of the natural world (39). Corbett acknowledges Leopold’s consideration that “human actions should not damage the ‘holistic integrity’ and healthy functioning of entire ecosystems” (39). Leopold’s philosophy is a case that is expressed in the film The Happening, as Elliot and Alma become sympathetic towards the trees and plants. Corbett makes a strong case for attributing value to entire functioning ecosystems, as the ideology Corbett presents calls for intrinsic value of all biological life (including grasses and trees) (39). Corbett includes an example of coastal forests continuing to exist and function autonomously, unless disturbed by some other force (like humans) (39). As Corbett so eloquently phrases, “the shift from humans-as-integral to humans-as-nonessentials in the functioning of the natural world is a significant one” (40). Similar to Shyamalan, Corbett expresses that in order to solve environmental problems, individuals need to form a deeper understanding about how they communicate with other individuals about the natural world and how influential human behavior is on the environment. In the innovative scholarly journal  “Harmful Algal Blooms in Asia”, Patricia M. Glibert investigates the insidious water pollution phenomenon of algal blooms with effects on ecological and human health (Glibert 1). Glibert, Professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, presents compelling details about the paralyzed, poisoned shellfish (due to global distribution of harmful algae) throughout southeast Asia, Europe, and South America (2). The Happening references a variety of scientific phenomenon, including the “red tide” phenomenon, or algae blooms–a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in freshwater or marine water systems, and is recognized by the discoloration in the water from their pigments–which indicates that marine plant life have begun releasing toxins in response to environmental conditions. Glibert goes into detail about the effects of harmful algal blooms on humans, of which there are many (3); The algal blooms, that result in harmful health effects to humans, were found to caused by humans, as man-made pesticides and other chemicals people use wash into the oceans (5). Glibert reveals that the algal blooms release an extremely potent neurotoxin (3). Just as in The Happening, people must attempt to avoid inhaling the toxin released by the natural phenomenon (in the films case, the toxins that the trees release). Glibert presents her findings because she understands that the general public is blind to their effects on ecosystems and humans’ health. Glibert’s findings bridge the gap of what is not known about the causes and effects of algal blooms; this uninformed preconception by the general public is expressed in The Happening by Dr. William Ross, as he states that “plants and trees just can’t pick up and move when they feel threatened, like other species. They have only one option, to rapidly evolve their chemistry” (The Happening). Glibert’s research serves as a forum for critical study; she states that to address the needs of reversing the events of algal blooms, biologists, chemists, public health officials, climate scientists, and more are required to contribute to find a solution. Still, Glibert leaves on a similar note that The Happening ends on: “ecosystems and human health will likely continue to be affected by harmful algal blooms worldwide at an escalating pace” (12). The Happening also concludes with a similar message stated by Dr. William Ross: “The toxin released deaths were an act of nature, and we’ll never fully understand it… This was a prelude; a warning, like the first spot of a rash. We have become a threat to this planet. I don’t think anybody will argue that.” Glibert’s article serves to convey the message that humans will continue to be affected by environmental phenomenons as long as they continue to not take responsibility and change the way they live. In the fresh and incisive scholarly book Environment, Society, and Natural Resource Management, Geoffrey Lawrence et al., critically reviews the effects that social sciences have on natural resource management and insists that there be a greater social science presence in the management of how people and natural landscapes interact (5). Lawrence, Professor of Sociology at the University of Queensland, examines that increasingly, “few environmental problems can be solved without considering the social context in which they arise from” (Lawrence). The expert contributors explain that new concepts and approaches to natural resource management can positively contribute to introspection in human beings; They describe how the social sciences are used as a means to underline social concerns as well as to foster greater involvement, cooperation, and integration among community members, natural resource managers and researchers (Lawrence 10). By incorporating detailed case studies from Australasia and the Americas, the authors illustrate how different social science perspectives are used to influence individuals’ opinion on environmental issues. Lawrence finds that new forms of ideology expressed in the social sciences can be beneficial to paradigms of thought in regards to environmental upheaval (4); he states that a greater understanding of how natural resources are used can make cause humans to take responsibility for their effects on the environment. This edited collection is driven by the need for “robust and adaptable theoretical and methodological approaches that are appropriate to the understanding and governance of human-environment relationships” (Lawrence 2). As seen in The Happening, profound introspection is needed to bridge the gap between environment and society.At first look, the film is understood and acknowledged for its action and “jump-scare” scenes; Through deeper analysis, the keen viewer can appreciate the film’s representation of a natural phenomenon (toxin released by trees) and the film’s expression of opinions about human behavior and the environment. Most clearly conveyed is Shyamalan’s idea of using a film expected to be an action, terrorist, thriller film and creating quite the opposite, seeking to compel people to recognize the impact that their lifestyles can have on the world. Shyamalan uses the wind as a factor and concludes that “there are forces that work beyond our understanding” (The Happening).  Works like Communicating Nature, “Harmful algal Blooms in Asia”, Environment, Society and Natural Resource Management, and The Landscape of Hollywood Westerns, explore the detrimental effects of human behavior and although they all offer a different approach to analyzing environmental issues, all of them are inclined to examine the way that throughout the years, humans have been unable to accept their role in environmental upheaval. The film The Happening is an excellent depiction of the subtle power environmental themes have in thriller films.

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