“Unlivable Oasis,” a collaboration between ProPublica, Time, Truly CA and Univision Noticias, won the News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Science, Technology or Environmental Coverage.
Directed by visual journalist Maurico Rodríguez Pons and then-ProPublica writer Elizabeth Weil, the film provides a case study of how the growing climate crisis magnifies inequality, including in housing, the first line of defense against an increasingly inhospitable environment.
The documentary is a dystopian portrait of Thermal, a Southern California community where farmworkers live in uninsulated, sun-baked trailers on some of the hottest farmland in the world, while less than 30 miles northwest of their homes, affluent residents cool themselves in shimmering pools and on lush green golf courses. This is what social scientists call the “climate gap”: “the disproportionate and unequal impact the climate crisis has on people of color and the poor.”
The documentary powerfully visualized the climate gap using meticulously composed diptychs capturing the inequalities between the haves and have-nots. This, in combination with impeccable cinematography, sweeping aerial shots and intimate vérité footage of a farmworker’s family, created an immersive experience that helps viewers to more fully understand the climate gap.