Friday, August 9, 2019

Planet of the Humans Coming Film Release

ETA: Here's my actual film review after sitting through it all!

Jeff Gibbs, a close associate of Michael Moore, has directed a new doc about the problems with green solutions to climate change. The doc isn't out yet, but the promotional material suggests it will reveal how solar panels and electric cars are making the situation worse. So NOW what do we do??

There's still cutting back on (or eliminating) beef in our diets. George Monbiot says we need to eat what uses the least land resources possible, and beef uses the most. It doesn't appear that the new film debunks that one.

Based on articles about the film, they take down Bill McKibben for supporting biomass and other environmental groups for getting in bed with corporations. They use as a deterrent to renewables the fact that the Koch brothers are making money off them. But they would be idiots not to invest in all sides of energy, so that's not remotely a good argument. A tie to a corporation isn't necessarily a problem for the earth.

CounterPunch reports (it's really weirdly written) that they say,
"Forget all you have heard about how “Renewable Energy” is our salvation. It is all a myth that is very lucrative for some. Feel-good stuff like electric cars, etc."
They report that all renewable energy sources use fossil fuels in their production: "none of these could exist without fossil fuels". I don't think that's a surprise for anyone. The idea of using solar panels was never to eliminate all fossil fuel use, but to dramatically decrease its use. I'm not sure if they present information that suggests using solar panels is just as bad as burning coal for energy, but the sound bites are making that implication. I've been praising renewables all these years for having less impact from cradle to grave, not zero impact. I look forward to seeing the film (and scrutinizing their sources) to see if I need to change paths.

Non-Fiction Film offers a clearer look at what the film suggests,
The ultimate problem is that there are too many people consuming too much. . . . Gibbs sees climate change as symptomatic of a larger problem - overpopulation and consumption of Earth's resources. . . . putative solutions to our global environmental dilemma, such as switching to renewable sources of energy, building more wind farms and electric cars, offer false hope. . . . the development of "alternative energy" sources like wind, solar and biomass has not, in fact, led to a reduction in consumption of fossil fuels. "Building out an electric car and solar and wind infrastructure and the biomass, biofuel infrastructure, is going to run us off the cliff faster," Gibbs declares. "Because it's an additional round of mining and destruction that does not replace the one [fossil fuels] that's already destroying the planet!" . . . "Environmental groups have been collaborating on the lie of growth by helping us pretend that there will be 'green growth.' As if you can have wealth or stuff that doesn't destroy the planet. News flash: that's an impossibility of physics and biology," the director tells me. "There is nothing you will ever have in your life that's not an extraction from the planet earth. And so we've all lost touch with that."

To avoid the potential extinction of the human species, Gibbs believes nothing short of a radical reordering of perspective is needed. "There are too many people consuming too much for a finite planet to support. Infinite economic growth is suicide," he remarks. "We must take back the environmental movement from the corporate interests that have taken it over and we must convene and begin to plan how we're going to humanely, lovingly, sustainably re-vision how we live." . . . "Why don't we provide family planning to everyone in the world? That's not even on the environmental agenda," he states. "Why aren't we sharing our resources here with those people that don't have enough so they don't have to chop down a tree to live?... We need to change the laws in this country and the world so that corporations are not allowed to be addicted to infinite growth. We run the planet, there's no reason they should be allowed to do whatever they want." . . . if you were really worried about climate change you'd be demanding that we have an interstate bus system and an interstate rail system that would plummet our carbon footprint, not more individual electric cars."
I completely agree with population reduction and with the end of growth. We need to buy less and expect individual transportation to be a thing of the past, for sure. And I'm not sure if we will ever do that. GHGs rise every year despite all we try to do to slow it down.

There's a poignant bit at Doom for DummiesGail Zawacki writes,
"There is a man who lives on the other side of my village (it is said) who one day, setting out for errands, inadvertently ran over his child as he backed out of the driveway. Ever since I heard this tragic tale, I have thought I can imagine the moment that, thunderstruck with horror and frozen in disbelief, he gazed upon that little mangled body. I think I know the ferocious dread that overcame him when first he realized that the car of which he was so proudly enamored - that quintessential symbol of success, the pinnacle of modern technology and shiny avatar of individual freedom - was the very same mighty instrument of folly that had literally crushed the one thing most important to him - his progeny, his future. 
I suffer his tumultuous and inconsolable grief because that is how I greet every new day since abruptly I came to understand that the splendid, intricate, exquisitely entwined tapestry of life is unraveling."
This bit from Atwood's Oryx and Crake also fits nicely:
 “As a species we’re doomed by hope, then?” By hope? Well, yes. Hope drives us to invent new fixes for old messes, which in turn create ever more dangerous messes. Hope elects the politician with the biggest empty promise; and as any stockbroker or lottery seller knows, most of us will take a slim hope over prudent and predictable frugality. Hope, like greed, fuels the engine of capitalism."

h/t Gail

ETA: Here's my actual film review after sitting through it all.


Anonymous said...

I'd be OK to wait to see if the movie presents a fair balance about the situation.
a. Are we in crisis?
b. What are our options?

If presented with the option of buying a brand new internal combustion engine vs an electric car, knowing the impact of making it is the same, I'll choose an electric.

What gets trickier is the ongoing pressure on everyday consumers to make choices that they're not willing to make when we really need ways reverse the downloading of 'externalities' from companies to our day-to-day life.

Other ways that we need to think more about our daily lives:
Too much sprawl? Intensify.
No bike lanes? Force developers to follow new rules that maximize pedestrian/non-auto transportation and dedicated lanes.
Too much CO2 to make our food? Encourage local, organic produce and ways to make your own, including preserved products. People can't tend cattle in their backyard, but they sure as heck can grow a tomato or two.
Still too much C02? Find the culprits and shut them down. Don't like losing a few jobs? Retrain people or let them retire early.

It's embarrassing that someone associated with Michael Moore is resorting to saying that trying to make a few choices to improve the outlook for our planet are 'bad'. What worries me is that the context might be with pro-union folks (which Michael Moore tends to be) that simply don't want to see never-move-forward Big 3 auto companies go broke.

The Mound of Sound said...

I know of a lovely cave within spitting distance of a good fishing stream that might suit a zero-emissions lifestyle that is if I could persuade the current tenants, with their golden fur, amber eyes, long teeth and big tails to vacate the premises.

I think it was Tolstoy who wrote a book, "What then must we do?" That's the perfect question for our multi-faceted dilemma. What must we do? It's not that hard to figure out. Our species must, by design or happenstance, shrink to the point where we once again live in harmony with our very finite planet. We've reached the point at which the myth of 'sustainable growth' is exposed. We need to embrace what Lovelock once called 'sustainable retreat.' Only we're not about to do that.

From everything I've read I think we will see changes in the course of the 2020s that will show that we've left everything too late. You won't find a politician in North America with a viable chance of assuming power that will endorse retreat. Like Trudeau they're all disciples of neoliberalism that mandates perpetual, exponential growth. It's nihilistic as hell but that's all they know. We can sit here and grouse about it but that won't change a thing. We have succumbed to complacency and we will pay for that.

Marie Snyder said...

Anon - I'll wait for the film for further commentary, but the promos sound daunting. I don't think they're pushing gas cars over electric, though, but for more bus usage - and, yes, more bike lanes!

Mound - I agree. We will see that it's all too late long before that 12-year window is up.

Anonymous said...

I have read that it takes 9 nuclear power plants to produce the electricity for our cellphones. So here is a good start. Unglue the iphone from your ear and save the earth.

Water power probably is a good alternative - sea, rivers. for the fish just construct high tech fish ladders and stop dumping chemically treated sewage in the rivers - when raw sewage dumped into our river we could fish, now there aren't even minnows or crayfish or suckers....
Mixed with air - waterfall, rapids, dam - only diptheria is still alive ( get your vaccination). Rotate crops ( more small or big farmers letting one third of your land lay fallow each year allows the land to naturally regain its fertility with out using polonium contaminated artificial fertilizer - the Bible says to do this, it may cut back this years profit but long term you don't have to borrow $$ till you lose the place). Stop being so damn greedy - the rich are NOT that happy as you think they are - the Bible ( don't try for fast wealth - take it easy don't buy it if you have to ruin your life by maxing out your credit card ( the borrower is slave to the lender Proverbs?). Don't vote for the person who offers you the most - they are lying to you. Look for someone who tells you that you are going to have to ship in to help your neighbors - novel idea I know but don't whine. In short "we have met the enemy and he is us".

Marie Snyder said...

Anon, if you compare watts and power consumption, cellphones are negligible, but I appreciate the point that we have to learn to do without a lot of the luxuries that now appear to us as necessities. A four-crop rotation (rather than leaving land fallow) can help the soil and eliminate pesticide and fertilizer requirements, but then, beyond lost profits, I'm not sure we can grow enough food - particularly if we're feeding cattle. Eliminating meat production of all kinds might do more to help that cause, but then there will be a massive backlash by the public who love their surf and turf.