Oscar nominee Pete Postlethwaite plays the best role of his acting career in the film “The Age of Stupid.” The movie fast forwards us to the year 2055. Pete plays the only fictional character in this riveting film. He stars as an old man living alone in a world totally decimated by global warming. His location is the High Arctic. How prophetic this makes James Lovelock’s conclusion from his 2006 book Revenge of Gaia. In an interview about this book, Lovelock provides a dire prediction for humanity: “Before this century is over, billions of us will die, and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.”
The process that brought this about is one where we allowed the environment to become an extension of human egocentric needs and values – an ego-sphere rather than an eco-sphere. In this ego-sphere we consumed mindlessly in the global economy without regard for ecosystem balance or concern about creating inequality, poverty and ecosystem imbalance. Planetary care is not on this agenda, as the film graphically shows. We see the old man in the High Arctic watching archival video footage, carefully preserved from 2008. His stark question to the viewer is: “Why didn’t we stop climate change in 2008 when there was a chance?”
The character played by Postlethwaite is the curator of The Global Archive – a digital storage laboratory located in the Arctic – the last habitable place for humans on planet Earth. The footage he views shows how global warming reached tipping points and runaway effects while at the same time humanity’s achievements are also saved for posterity. How could the human mind capable of such monumental achievements neglect to take care of the destruction happening to their lived in ecosystem? The old man shakes his head in disbelief looking for an answer. The film gives us an answer – OIL! Our dependence and addiction to it; our refusal to move away from a carbon fueled lifestyle – this is what propelled the downward spiral of devastation.
The director of the film – Fanny Armstrong – creates a montage from live news and documentaries saved from 1950 to 2008. The video record charts the steps taken by humanity into global devastation – devastating that is for human habitation and for all other species. In an artfully created mosaic, six real life characters play out the dramas of their personal stories. Their humanity and their stupidity are extant in this brilliant tapestry of human folly. What is so gripping is that we who view it are made to feel distinctly uncomfortable. Because their shadows and myopia reflect our own shadows and myopia, especially those of our political and corporate leaders. After watching this film we can no longer hide from these shadows. We are forcibly held to account. If we do not act now – this film becomes our story and the evidence is in about the question “Are We Stupid?”
In Part Two of Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves(2008) http://www.failsafebook.ca/ I write about A Failed Genetic Experiment, though I do put a question mark after Experiment. Yet if we continue to turn our beautiful rivers into sewers because of our endless greed and neglectful ignorance, there is no place on Mother Earth to sustain our present civilization. It will join the trash heap collectively created by mindless generations of humanity. If consciousness is too slow to change and make the quantum leap to a culture of sustainability then there are drastic consequences to contemplate, which are starkly portrayed in the film. The ancient ecologist on Mars studying a million years of earth history would surely note a parasitic infestation of Planet Earth that was not very intelligent. An intelligent parasite would ensure the good health of the host that supports it. And so the Martian ecologist would factor in an inevitable elimination date for our species in her star date log and may well view our civilization as a failed genetic experiment.
“The Age of Stupid” is a watershed film. You will not be the same after you have seen it. It is impossible not to be moved, and in a constructive direction of immediate action. For the latter, I refer the reader to Appendix I of Failsafe: Simple Steps To Empowerment, which provides guidelines and an action plan for the global ecological emergency. If only we can get it right – and get it right now! The best case scenario is that we get on with the task of reining in our ego and greed driven mind. This permits a Failsafe in Consciousness to kick in because the conditions and opening have been created by our choice to cultivate different patterns within our minds. Thus consciousness expansion can no longer be held back as the radical internal Climate Change has taken place. Our innate knowledge is manifest. We interconnect with a vast counter culture that is no longer a minority, no longer asleep or disempowered. We become another light shining in the quiet revolution that has over two million organizations world-wide pursuing constructive change.
Our diligent mindfulness has changed our brain structures in the direction that permits new paradigms of behavior to come into form. As cells in the ecosystem of Gaia it is as though humanity has aligned their neuronal networks with principles of ecosystem balance, ethics and responsibility. The critical mass has arrived and it amounts to a collective tipping point for our species. Once the wild, ego driven, greed driven mind is reined in then clarity and compassion are suddenly there to provide the basis for how we can be with the planet and with one another in a totally new way. This is what happens if we “Begin It Now” – the concluding words to Failsafe: Saving The Earth From Ourselves. http://www.failsafebook.ca/
I finish with Dave Hampton’s passionate thoughts about this film (Resurgence May/June 2009: 66). “The Age of Stupid” is not just a film that could change the course of humanity. I hope it will be the catalyst that gives us a second chance to create a sustainable future. I hope it will promote a mass collective awakening globally such that we are not stupid and that we choose life and reclaim our children’s birthright – the right to expect a future”
I have fourteen grandchildren. In the same vein as this film, I wrote Failsafe: Saving The Earth from Ourselves. Consider this book as archival footage from 2008 that provides hope and an action plan so that my grandchildren can enjoy a habitable planet.