I’m giggling as I begin writing this, because I know that for some people, credentials are everything. If I dare speak about an enviro-documentary where do I stand, where am I coming from? This is such a partisan world that one must declare one’s allegiance.
What team am I on?!!
So let me offer a few thoughts to let you know my beliefs & what I really want to see in any film about our Anthropogenic climate crisis. That’s the first one actually: that yes I believe humans cause climate change. That word “anthropogenic” means that humans are the source.
I try to be positive, but for a moment I must be negative in laying out my fears about the climate crisis. I am fearful, rarely talking to my friends about this because my expectation is far darker than what I see in any projections for the future. I have nightmares not unlike what you see in JG Ballard’s sci-fi novel The Wind from Nowhere. Wow I need to re-read this book, come to think of it!!! Will the Earth end up with winds like those on Jupiter? perhaps not this year… but we now have category five hurricanes, will there be a category six? or seven? Or Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle. Climate change is an ideal opportunity for the most extreme elements of our society to pursue evil ends. A white supremacist who hates persons of colour might relish the predicament of impoverished masses in Asia facing rising sea levels and powerful monsoons. Is it any wonder that a certain billionaire – POTUS known for his xenophobia might opt the USA out of any attempts to rein in greenhouse gases, might actually embrace climate change as his genie in the bottle that he wants to set free for evil ends?
So I hope it’s clear, I am wishing that humanity could stop the changes that seem to be bearing down upon us inevitably.
That’s the context for my response to Jeff Gibbs Planet of the Humans, a film that bears Michael Moore’s name, a film that’s now available for free online: even if I don’t believe it’s really his film.
I make the distinction because
- Michael Moore is a fine film-maker & writer
- Michael Moore is someone I admire
- Planet of the Humans is a shoddy piece of work, unworthy of MM
Full disclosure: I stopped watching it after 40 minutes. I wasn’t depressed, I was just unimpressed. The film is sloppy and amateurish. Nicely executed segues & a good soundtrack can’t compensate for weak logic in the argument of the film. It’s true that I only saw a fraction of the film, but it was enough.
It’s one thing when you’re interviewing GM management while asking tough questions about the behaviour of GM, a big monolith. It’s something else entirely to scatter questions at a bunch of people with no relationship to one another but have somewhat similar positions on climate change strategies: as though this group are somehow a monolith. Please note, they are no such thing, not even close. Even if there were a cult of climate change believers with a bible that they follow, this would be a bad strategy. But there’s no such cult.
For me the worst thing in this film is the half-assed way that they enquire about clean energy. Unfortunately the word “clean” means at least two different things:
1) Clean meaning “Not as dirty”, meaning less air pollution
2) Clean meaning “Not as likely to cause global warming through CO2 emissions”
In Ontario we stopped using coal to generate electricity. Instead we’re mostly using a combination of nuclear & natural gas. I haven’t watched the whole film, but so far they’ve made no mention of nuclear, which is an option some jurisdictions in Europe have embraced, just like the one where I live. So a big chunk is already missing.
It’s true that natural gas is still a fossil fuel so of course the purists will roll their eyes. But the removal of coal from the equation has meant fewer days when we have bad air in Toronto. It’s so much better since our former premier Wynne removed the last coal plant, that I don’t even remember what we call a bad pollution day. Is it a pollution advisory? Or something like that. Our air is cleaner! There’s less nasty content to give sensitive lungs reason to hide indoors.
So that’s one tiny improvement, in a world that is still unsafe for birds or bees or fish, where they’re cutting down too many trees and the water has funny chemical residues, even before we start adding things like fluoride.
But here’s the thing. The interviews in this film did not make it clear which objective they meant between #1 & #2, when making sweeping statements about the success in certain jurisdictions, concerning clean energy.
Yes it’s true that there are all kinds of limitations with solar & wind. And when interviewed almost everyone admitted that. Nobody except a very naïve few thought solar or wind could completely replace coal.
One can see text on a website promoting this film that says things such as “This eco-documentary takes a harsh look at how the environmental movement has lost the battle through well-meaning but disastrous choices”.
But it’s not a good film. We see musicians at an environmental gathering, and it starts to rain, and so they plug into the grid eventually. What is the point, to show that the idealists are actually liars or hypocrites? I’m sorry that’s cheap. Did they take an oath as environmentalists never to accept electricity from the grid? What a cheap shot this is, one of several…
And so, no: I didn’t watch the rest of the film. You can find it online for free if you like. But I won’t post its trailer.
I’ve already given it more than enough free publicity.