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.