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Laramie Movie Scope:
Racing Extinction

Fighting against the anthropocene extinction event

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 7, 2016 -- I'm not much of an environmentalist (it is just warmed over 19th century American and British romanticism trying in vain to recreate a past Eden) but this environmental opus won me over with its beautiful images and its message of hope for the future.

According to some estimates, 140,000 species per year are going extinct. This documentary film argues the current extinction rate is far higher than it should be and that humans are to blame for many of these extinctions, directly, through killing, and indirectly, through human-caused climate change and habitat destruction (referred to as the anthropocene extiction).

Some of the stuff in the film is truly scary, such as one scientist's estimate of a recent 40 percent drop in ocean plankton (and there are some truly amazing images of these and other microscopic ocean organisms). Plankton is the fundamental bedrock of the world's oxygen production, and of most of the ocean's ecosystem depends on plankton, too. If it goes, so do we.

The film crew goes undercover to expose the sale of endangered species in the U.S. and in China among other places. The undercover environmental cops uncover a huge stash of shark fins, used in shark fin soup. The shark population of the oceans is being decimated because of this. You can't maintain a healthy ecosystems if you remove apex predators like this.

The filmmakers go along on a sickening hunt for manta rays, revealing that they are being killed mainly because their gills are thought to be a folk remedy, and even that idea is part of a phony campaign to make money from gullible and desperate people. There is also a scary bit about the acidification of the ocean because of dissolved carbon dioxide.

The filmmakers also get into methane produced by cattle, methane being released from the arctic due to global warming, and other sources, noting that methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. One scene shows methane from an ice-covered arctic lake exploding in a fireball when lit. The movie argues that cattle are causing more global warming than all the cars in America.

Yes, this is familiar. Stop eating meat. Eat your plants. Install solar cells. Stop eating fish from the ocean. Buy Tesla cars and charge them up with solar cells. Vote for green candidates. You've heard it all before. But it is not all gloom and doom and tiny, ineffective steps. Both the romantic and rationalist view of environmentalism can be found here. There is something for everyone.

The film has a message of hope, and a unique way of delivering it. A car is made with a projector capable of putting huge images of endangered species on buildings. The filmmakers use projectors and sound systems to put their message on the U.N. buildings in New York, on the Empire State Building (now a green building) and in other countries. The images are beautiful and haunting.

According to this film, over 850 environmental activists have been killed in the past decade, because some of what they do is dangerous and they are fighting powerful economic interests. I have to hand it to these guys. They do put their lives on the line for what they believe. This movie is scary and depressing, but it also gave me some hope. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright 2016 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)