I saw Al Gore’s latest film today. I remember seeing his original film, an Inconvenient Truth about decade ago. In the intervening time I, as well as the world, has changed so much.
While the first film followed the pattern of alternating good news and bad news with a conclusion of how to take action this itteration felt like it focussed more on the direness of the current situation while the good news felt more like an ill-fated attempt at balance. The conclusion was also not a happy ending.
The film was not released in any of the larger cinema chains. I went to see it in a small cinema of one of the smaller, more independent chains. Even so there were only a handful of people at the screening. I’m not sure if weekend morning screening was too early for most people or if that is an indication that the message of the film might not have such a broad appeal anymore.
The film use a similar setup to an Inconvenient Truth, bits of Al Gore’s presentation are interspersed with clips of him traveling around the world meeting with various people on the front lines of the climate change predicament. A large part of the film focuses on the Paris Climate Conference, COP21.
I couldn’t help feeling that if the champion of climate change, Al Gore, is starting to feel the strain that we are in in dire straits. Seeing various of the effect of climate change in quick succession as well as hearing the ardent voices from the denier camp leaves me feeling hopeless. I’m not very optimistic by nature and the existence of this film in itself shows me that in 10 years we have not risen to the occasion and met the climate change predicament head on. If anything we are now worse off with the United States having removed itself from the already tenuous Paris Climate Accords.
In conclusion I think it was a good film, the message was clear and there was no sugarcoating of the solution being just around the corner. I’ve heard the quote that problems have solutions and predicaments have outcomes. Climate change then is most definitely the predicament of our age.
I recently had the opportunity to see an advanced screening of the film The Age of Consequences. The film is based on a report, of the same name, that was released by CSIS, the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Using voice overs, interviews, striking visuals and news footage the message is clear: the world is facing serious challenges.
By interviewing mainly retired US armed forces personnel, the film aims to avoid audiences dismissing the climate change issue as a left-wing only concern. I appreciate that the film does not frame the climate change issue as a distant problem, somewhere in the future, but makes it a tangible event in the present. The Age of Consequences is already here.
Judging by the frequent sighs from the audience, this news made people feel very despondent. To counter this collective depression, the film has a scene towards the end that is almost a cliché for films of this nature – sweeping helicopter shots of rows of wind turbines and fields of solar panels. A voice-over states how this is a crisis but also an opportunity.
The film ends, the lights are switched on again, a few people check their phones to see if they missed any important messages. The seriousness of the situation has been firmly impressed on the audience, but there is no clear guidance as to what they should do next.
This is probably one of the biggest flaws of this film and others like it. The problem is clearly outlined along with the long term consequences, but the roadmap of how to navigate away from the crisis doesn’t seem to have been created yet.
Maybe once this film has its mainstream release it can galvanize action on a large scale. Until then, all we can do is try and minimise our own contribution to the problem and sigh for the scale of our predicament.
I’m not sure if there are any readers here who are fans of speculative fiction dealing with peak-oil, but if there are I can heartily recommend the Inter States series by Ralph Meima. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book Fossil Nation and I am waiting in anticipation for the release of the second book in the series. Here is an idea of what to expect…
A historic migration begins, triggered by Hurricane Rhiannon but accelerated by deeper currents. With winter approaching, hundreds of thousands take to the road in search of safety, potable water, reliable sources of food, and shelter. Their numbers overwhelm infrastructure and governments, roiling politics and changing the demographic character of regions forever.
With the 2040 election only days away, events whip from one surprise to another. A dispute flares around disaster relief offered by China and the European Union. Supporters and opponents dig in along partisan lines. The President is held in contempt, and arrested by a council of national unity. Despite an initial spirit of cooperation, multiple competing claims to federal executive authority arise, precipitating a constitutional crisis. Oligarchs see threats and opportunities in the emerging disorder, and act to protect their interests.
Carried along in the migration are the Trudeau-Kendeil and Daniels families. They have banded together for a harrowing journey of many days from Washington, D.C. to the homes of charitable relatives in New England, in search of the security a family needs in these lean times. Their route takes them through communities coping in diverse ways with economic hardship, an unstable climate, and the swelling numbers of migrants.
A colleague from Jack Trudeau’s past appears with an explanation of the unraveling around them. Grounded in energy science, his letter addresses the federal government’s dysfunction in the face of the crisis, and the new, more assertive role that state governments are quickly assuming. Prepare for abrupt, discontinuous change, he warns.
Challenges multiply as the families travel north. Election Day arrives while they are still on the road. Voter turnout is low among populations side-tracked by the storm and migration. Then, tragedy strikes in the families’ midst, overwhelming plans and driving home a harsh lesson about options and consequences in a world riven by competing realities and relentless resource scarcity.