“We wouldn’t be the first life form to make itself extinct. But what would be unique about us is that we did it knowingly. What does that say about us?” – The Archivist, The Age of Stupid (Peter Postlethwaite)
This new documentary film is set in 2055, a little less than half a century on from today. Pete Postlethwaite plays a man living alone in a devastated future, looking back at our world of today and asking why we didn’t save ourselves when we still had time. His character is not the last survivor, as is often misquoted: groups of individuals are seen in the devastated scenes preceding Pete’s introduction and the camera pans past a large, populated refugee camp. Many people are left alive, but there has clearly been a collapse in both the human population and the structures of civilization we know today.
In the world depicted in the film, the inhabitants are suffering the results of all the cumulative emissions that we have already put into the atmosphere (between the start of the industrial revolution in1850 and today, 2009), plus additional emissions which will have been added over the future decades – during which, according to the conceit of the film, humanity continued with its business-as-usual fossil fuel use and did not make dramatic emission reductions. This conceit is, again, not a work of our scriptwriters’ feverish imaginations, but is currently considered the most likely scenario: according to the International Energy Agency’s standard forecast, emissions will be 45% higher than today as early as 2030. Over the last decade or so, the rate of emissions increase has nearly tripled.
The film is pessimistic in the sense that it examines in imaginary hindsight from the vantage point of 2055 why humanity failed to reduce its emissions – but, more than fifteen years since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed, we should already be asking this question. From a policy-as-usual perspective, it is a reasonable supposition that we will probably keep on failing. (This is not to suggest fatalism or denial: the film is a clear cautionary tale, and one which is already backed up by a campaigning effort aimed at inspiring its viewers to become climate activists – visit the ‘Not Stupid’ website, www.notstupid.org) – review by Mark Lynas, author of “High Tide” and “Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet”
This is a must see film! We will organize a screening here in Cape Town as soon as we can get hold of a copy. So watch this space! In the meantime, for more information visit The Age of Stupid.
The 90 by 2030 Team.“The very fact that the crisis is taking place within our generation, that it’s happening right now, means that we are tremendously powerful people. So this position of despair and I can’t do anything and there’s no point is completely illogical, it’s exactly the opposite.” – George Monbiot, Journalist & Author