Monday, March 16, 2009

The Age of Stupid

Do we need another misery movie?

Review: The Age of Stupid - premiere at Leicester Square and 65 cinemas across the country.

In The Age of Stupid Pete Postlethwaite addresses us from the wrecked planet of 2055 and asks how we could be so stupid as to let climate change destroy humanity. He flicks through endless archives showing us the obvious clues to catastrophe from 2009 and before. It seemed a long film, partly because technical problems meant that about 30 minutes of footage was played twice. Partly, too, because it replayed the breast-beating and lamentations already seen in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Leonardo di Caprio’s The Eleventh Hour, The Day After Tomorrow and all the rest.

What these films lack, and that includes the live debate following The Age of Stupid, is a credible call to action. Watching this film you might conclude that the best thing to do is to run your car on chip fat, live self-sufficiently on a small holding and protest against the nasty nimbies who oppose wind farms. It goes without saying that there’s not enough chip fat and not enough smallholdings. The effectiveness of wind farms is also very much in doubt. After the film Pete Postlethwaite pledged to give back his OBE if the government approved the proposed new Kingsnorth coal-fired power station. Ed Milliband was there to respond, but they let him off extremely lightly by not once mentioning government support for Heathrow’s third runway. Surely that’s a much more powerful national political issue than some power station down in Kent.

Sustainable economic growth is still possible in a low carbon economy, but if we are going to solve this problem we must all drive less, heat less and consume less. Life will be very different - potentially much more pleasant - if we take the low-carbon route. The Age of Stupid has missed the opportunity to show what ordinary people can do to safeguard our future, and to show what sort of future we can all enjoy if we act now. Certainly the showing raised enthusiasm both in Leicester Square and in the cinema where I was, but I fear that people will be rushing off to protest, rather than rushing off to change their lives.


Compost John said...

Shame on you Anthony!
I am sure that although The Age of Stupid did repeat some of the science and themes seen in other climate change films (after all, it is a film about the same subject!!!) it puts it in a context which will grab people and connect with them, and they will be more likely to take action. The neccessary actions are detailed in many places.

I would hope that you will encourage people to see the film, as it WILL help move the debate forward and WILL help people make low carbon choices.

If you tell people the film is 'big stupid. what do you suggest to them they go and see to make then understand the urgency of the situation? What is your alternative? In the absense of being able to put a key in someone's ear and switch on something which then allows them to engage with the subject, this film is probably the next best thing.
Yours, John

DBoomer said...

Hi John/Anthony,
As someone involved in the "green space" for many years - involved in trying to influence busines towards sustainability, I always approach media events (films etc) with some scepticism, including al Gore's shameless misrepresentation of climate science.
I wonder, John, what you mean by "help move the debate forward". My experience from attending numerous climate change conferences is that there is far too much emotive posturing- this includes Sir David King liking climate change to puting your children on an aircraft with a 10% chance of it crashing!
With regard to people, I have been involved in behavioural change for many years and have found that you can fit virtually all into somewhere within a standard statistical bell curve - a small % are green, a small % are anti and the majority waddle around the middle depending on various factors but the main one being economic.
Both please keep up the good work. Remember that honest debate sharpens the science and blind acceptance produces poor and inaccurate science.