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.