Tuesday, 18 March 2008

The 11th Hour

Yesterday I saw a preview screening of the 11th Hour which is on release at the Apollo Cinema in London later this week.

I went to the screening fearful that the film would instill more gloom into audiences already growing weary of doom-mongering from notable figures around the world. Instead as the film passed its opening and bracing sequence, it started to make a lot of sense...

Yes, there were a lot of frightening images of drought, famine, flood and death, as well as sobering statistics of unsustainable world growth. But amid this were voices that spoke with authority and certainty without preaching in any way. They were people from all industries and backgrounds - people who knew that the truth about the damage that we've inflicted on the planet. But the voices were unnaffected by the media, and spoke with passion and reason at the same time. They're largely not celebrities but people who've been working to find solutions to the planet's woes.

The film starts to address profound issues that other films, books and documentaries have failed to address. These are not just about climate change or the effects of our behaviour on the planet, but instead our relationship to nature and ourselves. The film clearly questions any separation between humans and the environment - we are in fact inseparable. We are also vulnerable in the grand scheme of things. So as a result all we are doing is speeding up our demise whilst being a relatively young species.

The film shifts the emphasis of the climate change debate to focus on what we're doing that's different to our pre-industrial ancestors. What we're doing now that didn't happen before is releasing the ancient energy of the sun that was previously not released. In other words, our ancestors lived by the energy of the current sun and not the ancient sun which of course is not renewable. In unleashing this locked up energy, the population of the planet has rocketed to unbelievable proportions. Even in my grandparents' lifetimes, the population has increased over 5 times over. This just isn't sustainable.

Having spent the weekend with a friend's baby, I started to question what the future of that young baby would be. If the world continues to deplete resources I genuinely felt afraid and unless things change, I started to question if I should myselfin the future bring a new person into a world which can't sustain it.

A moment in the film which had resonance with my mission, was when they talked about our relationship to our homes. Something has brewed a kind of hatred toward our surroundings. Instead our consumer behaviour has taken over and tried to fill this gap and define who we are. As more people have grown tired of the constant bombardment of commercial imagery and brands, they are rejecting the notion of working more to buy more. And suddenly the idea of frugality is one that is appealing, and welcoming in a fast-paced, individualistic society.

So is there a reason to be cheerful? Very much so. Well if you consider the planet as being another living being with rights too, then the planet is all ok in the long-term. Humans will be gone, but as the film finishes on, the earth will regenerate eventually, and life-in whichever way possible-will return. For humans though, all isn't lost. The film talks about what we can do - even if it's at the 11th hour, we still have a chance. In fact some commentators even say that this is the most fascinating era to live in. A chance to completely rethink the way we live and our relationship to the planet. As long as we keep in mind these possible solutions, we have a chance.

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