(2009) Having just helped defeat a proposed windfarm near her land in the UK because she said it would spoil the view, a NIMBY woman tells the interviewer that "of course" she understands the threat of climate change and supports alternative energy. This is one of the film clips stored in the Global Archive - along with all the remaining digitized books, documents, movies, plus pickled specimens of animals - in the Arctic north of Norway in 2055, following the total collapse of civilization, which the archivist (Pete Postlethwaite) has collected as a cautionary tale for another intelligent species, if one exists. "We could have saved ourselves," he says regretfully of the extinction of our species: "We did it knowingly."
As a moral choice during the first decade of the 21st century, Piers Guy, who designs windfarms, and his wife Lisa on their farm in Cornwall are attempting to reduce their energy needs as much as possible after a skiing trip in the Alps with 82-year-old mountain guide Fernand Pareau, who shows them how a glacier they came to see is rapidly thawing; the couple decide to forego a flight for their wedding anniversary because that is the worst activity an individual can do to the planet.
Among the few who understood the unequivocal science of climate change and tried to warn of tipping points that led to the eventual disaster was Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet and High Tide, calling for an 80% cut in greenhouse-gas emissions and establishment of a low-carbon economy by 2015 or else. Meanwhile in India, Jeh Wadia, a wealthy industrialist with the noble aim of eradicating poverty in his country, began creating a low-cost airline, which could send jets flying over the snow-depleted Alps.
In New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck, Alvin DuVernay, a petroleum engineer (who considers himself to be an ecologist and environmentalist) and his 80-year-old father remained in his home until the water rose too high, after which they launched a boat and rescued over 100 people; Du Vernay lost everything except two oak trees and his empty plot of land. In Nigeria the "resource curse" of increasing poverty is evident where Shell Oil and the policies of a corrupt government have contributed to war, rape, pollution, destruction of the environment, and disease among the masses; Lafeya Malini relates her personal tragedies. For centuries Africa had been pillaged of its natural resources and its human workers; the cheap labor of black slaves was replaced in the 19th century with black oil.
In the early 21st century in the Middle East - clip of Glenn Beck declaring "not WMD, it's OIL" - liquid energy was determined to be worth fighting for; Adnan and Jamila Bayyoud, children of an Iraqi refugee family whose father was killed by American soldiers, repair and sell second-hand American shoes on the streets of Amman, Jordan. Oil companies weren't simply in bed with the government (re-election and next-quarter profits took precedence over protecting the planet's environment): in effect they were the government.
After all the other Isms, the most powerful ideology on the planet became Consumerism with everyone wanting to live by high-energy Western standards with large homes filled with modern appliances, gas-guzzling cars, air transportation. Awful weather - hurricanes increased in intensity; the ice caps melted and the continents shrank as their coasts were inundated by rising oceans; floods and forest fires raged out of control; desertification eliminated more arable land - and the indiscriminate burning of oil without regard to future generations denied the survival of future generations.
I expect director/writer Franny Armstrong's documentary will largely be preaching to the choir (which needs to get off its backside), exhorting us to question our collective values. There's been plenty of talk but little actual change for the better. Are you willing to make sacrifices, such as accepting individual carbon rationing and paying higher electricity bills, toward a global oil cap in order to make possible reduction and equality of energy distribution? Or will you rely upon prayers and hope for a miracle?
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