I’ve thought long and hard why it is that we, as human beings, find it so difficult to take decisive action to combat the climate catastrophe we face. The answer is complicated and multi faceted but I think one of the biggest reasons is that the impact of our actions now will only be noticeable quite some time onto the future. Even the effects of climate change are not strongly evident right now, it’s mostly scientific theories about what will happen.
A while back I stumbled upon a documentary by CNN, aired in 2006, about what would happen if we suddenly had no oil. They start by assuming a massive hurricane hits the oil refineries in Texas (which has happened before), and that terrorists take advantage of this and bomb refineries in the Middle East, resulting in a 90% drop in the supply of refined oil (go here to read what Cuba did when their oil supply really did drop by 90%).
I had never contemplated the full implications of this sort of scenario. Initially things are fine because most countries have oil stockpiles, but the price of oil does go through the roof. Within a few days the stockpiles start to run low and the government starts rationing oil because they need it for the army and what not. Then things start to get messy, fights breaking out at petrol stations, then at shops as the food runs out. Eventually people are rioting and there is anarchy.
It was a very scary documentary, but what made it so scary was not just the realisation of the impact of such a scenario but the way they presented it made it seem so real. It was presented as live CNN coverage of actual events. They used actual footage from past events to recreate these realistics news reports. If you were to leave this playing on a public TV, you would scare a lot of people.
My point is that we need this sort of thing to help people understand what the impact of the climate catastrophe will be on the world. Age of Stupid does this in a way. It is set in the future (2055) when the human race is basically extinct. The narrator, as one of the last remaining humans, is documenting what led to the extinction of man using video archives and audio files. The video clips tell the stories of 4 different people in different parts of the world and how they are effecting climate change or being affected by it.
Obviously these ‘archive’ videos are of our present day and illustrate how things which we may see as normal are in fact going to lead to our destruction. It’s a serious wake up call and should be watched by everyone. It shows that we really need to start doing things differently. Offsetting our carbon footprint by planting a few trees is not going to make any difference.
With the G8 conference just over and nothing concrete to show with respect to saving the environment, we need to stop and take note that perhaps we can’t look to our leaders to solve this problem, we need to get off our bums and do something ourselves.
Catch Age of Stupid and other excellent documentaries at The Encounters Documentary Festival at the Waterfront Nu Metro until Sunday (19th).