I just got back from the global premiere of a climate change movie called Age of Stupid. The experience was amazing, to say the least. First, I’d like to review the movie. Then, I’d like to review the state of the world in relation to climate change.
The movie itself was brilliant. The premise is simple: in the year 2055, the world has been devastated by the consequences of human generated climate change. Society has collapsed entirely, and the systems of life as we know them have largely unraveled. One man remains as caretaker of a collection of humanity’s relics and an archive of their knowledge. The film follows his narration as he reviews clips of the recent past (our present day) and wonders why people in the “Age of Stupid” didn’t do more to prevent the apocalypse.
Tonight’s screening was a huge worldwide event with a short pre-show and a longer post-show consisting of interviews and commentary on the subject of climate change. Unfortunately, I missed most of the pre-show and the first 15 minutes or so of the main event due to technical difficulties at our local theatre. I did see enough of the film, though, to be thoroughly impressed.
On the one hand, the film is intensely and transparently didactic. It’s an unabashed call to action on the issue of climate change. Active disbelievers in human-caused climate change will find it abhorrent, and some snobby film critics who dislike any overt politics in a film will say it’s too preachy.
On the other hand, it’s also very entertaining and compelling. It mostly consists of clips about the present day contributions to climate change, both good and bad, but the framework about a future apocalypse works well and emphasizes the seriousness of the information being presented.
The blend of individual people’s stories and global implications make the film’s narrative compelling, creative, and highly relevant.
After the film, there was a series of brief live interviews on the subject of climate change. There was a lot of chaos throughout the post-show due to a mix of technical difficulties and seeming disagreements as to who was supposed to speak when. The material itself, though, was pretty amazing.
Speakers included former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the President of the Republic of Maldives (the first climate neutral nation), someone from MoveOn, a British politician whose name I forget, and others.
First of all, I found it very impressive that important political officials like Kofi Annan and the President of the Maldives were actually there in person at the event. I also was impressed at how strong and well-stated all of their arguments were in favor of taking action on climate change in order to avoid the dire consequences on the horizon for both humanity and the planet. Finally, I was amazed and excited and taken aback by the confrontational attitude that one of the film’s creators took toward the British politician who had been invited to speak. He’s supposed to be leading their government’s action on climate change, but apparently he’s not going far enough, so the filmmaker kept challenging him and asking him why he wasn’t doing more to improve the agreement being formulated for the next climate meeting in Copenhagen this December.
All in all, the film premiere was an amazing experience, marred only by the 15-20 minutes of local technical difficulties at the very beginning. Unfortunately, almost all of the people who came locally gave up on the film due to these technical difficulties. And I can’t say that I blame them — I was about to leave myself when the video resumed! But luckily, I stayed long enough to see most of the film and be part of the global phenomenon.
And that brings me to my review of climate change itself.
I won’t speak much about the details of climate change because the film says more than I can or should in a single blog entry. Seeing this film, though, drove home to important points that I feel cannot be overemphasized.
The first is that our current situation is dire. Human-caused climate change has already started, and in order to keep it from spiraling out of control, we need to ensure that the global temperature doesn’t rise more than 2 degrees Celcius above the pre-Industrial Revolution temperature. And in order to do THAT, we need to ensure that our global carbon emissions peak in 2015 and rapidly decline from then onward.
This is serious business. In order to achieve that goal, we’ll have to work together internationally to change the entire direction of our economies and societies within a matter of several years. If we don’t achieve this unprecedented shift, then we will likely reach the tipping point soon. The destabilization of both climate and society will accelerate, and the systems of life as we know it will rapidly collapse within my lifetime.
This may sound very gloomy — and in fact, it IS very gloomy. This is the greatest threat to life on this planet that our species have ever witnessed.
The good news, though, is that there is still time for action. We are the source of this problem, and we must take action to resolve this problem, if only for the sake of our own survival.
The film itself is a striking example of the power of grassroots campaigns to create something inspired and transformative. Age of Stupid started as a small independent project and evolved into the largest simultaneous showing of a film in human history. It was funded by grassroots organizing, promoted by social networking, and made possible by communications technology which didn’t even exist 10 years ago. We have an increasing ability to network and communicate with each other on such globally vital issues, and an increasing power to take meaningful action both as individuals and as active citizens in our respective cities and nations.
There are many ways to take action. The makers of the film are encouraging people to take action through the Not Stupid site:
I’ll also have more news and more ideas for action soon. In the meantime, check out Age of Stupid when you get the chance, and do whatever it takes to change the present and the future for the better.
Each of us may at times seem small in the presence of local, regional, national, and international systems of power. But each of us in our own way can make a difference. And with our powers combined, we can change the world.