Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Moving Out of the Age of Stupid

Step Into The Light
Originally uploaded by ojodorado

Yesterday afternoon, there were people crying in the Kabuki theater where I had gone to see a film at the San Francisco Film Festival. One of them was a woman in her twenties who, later, spoke angrily to her friends out on the sidewalk: "No, I am NOT going to have a child. Why should I bring a child into this?"

"This", according to the film
The Age of Stupid and numerous reports by climatologists on global warming, is basically collective human suicide.

The film reports on the years leading up to this suicide from the fictional vantage point of a survivor in 2055. Sitting in a cavernous building where he has saved thousands of books and artwork as momentos of a lost human civilization, he plays documentary footage of pre-suicide years, focusing on the lives of six individuals.

These six people are our contemporaries--they are us: a man who works his entire life for the oil industry loses his home in Hurricane Katrina, a Nigerian woman decides to trade in black market diesel after her fishing business is devastated by oil exploitation, an Indian entrepreneur decides to fight poverty in his country by creating an airline while a British couple decide not to take an own airline flight on their vacation because it will increase their carbon footprint.

One of the most powerful moments in the film for me was the confrontation between a British wind power entrepreneur and the group of residents who didn't want the wind farm near them because it would 'spoil the view', even as each one of them spoke of how supportive they were of alternative energy sources and slowing ecological disaster.

In other words, many of us want to halt global warming, but only in a vague, pleasant, abstract way. When it comes to actually allowing wind farms to move in next door, or not taking that airplane trip to Paris, or not buying that plastic bottle of water when you are thirsty, it is far more difficult.

I include myself in this. Ironically, just before seeing the film I had been discussing with myself all the reasons why I should buy a car.
Now I think I'll hold off a little longer. Busses may take longer but I meet more interesting people on them than when I am driving alone.

The Age of Stupid is a powerful and effective film, ultimately not leaving us with a sense of despair but with some practical solutions for change.

Afterwards, the filmmaker was on hand to talk about how British politicians had approached her to watch the film as world governments prepare for the
/Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change which will attempt to develop a framework to move us out of the Age of Stupid and towards a more positive and sustainable future.

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