17 November 2009

Why don't we save ourselves while we have the chance?

We just finished watching The Age of Stupid, which does what few provocative documentaries about climate change have managed (I’m thinking of Al Gore and the slow boiling frog, which is about all I can recall from that film): broadcast from an imagined future earth, the culmination of our (impending) self-lead demise is made plain through a convincing splice of actual archival footage that brings the evidence together in a continuity never before afforded us. The film's tagline cuts right to the chase: "Why didn't we save ourselves when we had the chance?"

Michael Moore has a talent for assessing some of our biggest denials about a controversial issue and then methodically severing our most beloved strongholds on fatal ignorance in short order. Although he is often criticized for taking liberties with the truth in order to better serve his own agenda, this doesn’t make that agenda false, any more than unfulfilled promises make a member of the elected a poor politician (maybe not the best example).

This film, amazingly, is not another Michael Moore initiative as I'd first believed, but one that was written and directed by British born Franny Armstrong. So before the (anti-?)conspiracy theorists get all bent out of shape, they should probably know that there is more than one good storyteller who is fighting for humankind's wellbeing.

I don’t necessarily believe that things are as black and white as Armstrong portrays them, though I have a strong feeling that unless we cut emissions to practically nothing, and quickly, we are pretty well doomed to whatever fate a planet suffers when it runs out of the stuff that makes its inhabitants live (we can see microcosms of this occurring the world over right now – no need to wait for some ambiguous Armageddon).

So tonight I am powering off this computer, the television, and the fan we leave on in the bedroom that drowns out Bruce’s snoring and simultaneously keeps Hartley from waking to every little sound and me from dreaming that I am asleep in a crypt (it is that dark, silent and airless in our bedroom without the fan). I am going to brave the wrath of our neighbours when we invariably get our recycling all backwards (I geddit, no plastic fruit punnets or cereal boxes) and I am going to look into ways of sustainable living that we can achieve now (cutting travel, turning off lights) and ones we will need to work towards in the future (compost toilets, solar panels).

Bruce thinks I’m on another tangent that’s due to fizzle out by morning, but I am deadly serious. The idea of Hartley suffering some future, sickly world that I didn’t lift a finger to try and save, or that his children might not even live to see any world whatsoever, makes my heart shrink into a tiny, wrinkled pea of grief.

I haven’t had a chance to look at the website yet, but apparently www.notstupid.org has some practical tips for turning things around, should enough of us feel moved to rise to the challenge. You can wait for someone else to take initiative and do it for you, but unfortunately there are probably more of you out there than you think.

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