Planet of the Humans 

The over-the-top reaction of Elizabeth May made it certain that I would have to actually watch this.

And I’m not sorry I did.

The main messages (which bizzarely the very poor Guardian reviewer almost completely missed in a relatively favourable review) are that there will not be any solution to the various problems of human impact until we defuse the population bomb and that any technology which might help but can be misused for profit will be so misused in the context of a “free market” capitalist system.

Like much of Moore’s work (but also unfortunately also just like much of the work of those who are now squealing like stuck pigs), the film is polemical and manipulative to a fault, and crosses the boundary into dishonesty at various points. The fact that, as a ten year project, it includes much that is out of date, is not in and of itself a failing, but the movie’s failure to acknowledge changes that happened several years ago is one. For example Bill McGibben’s endorsement of biofuels was reversed several years ago – well after he was first challenged on the topic by Gibbs, but long before the movie actually came out. And I don’t think that acknowledging this would have reduced the impact of using biofuels as an example of how easy it is to overlook hidden weaknesses (especially ones involving vulnerability to abuse for profit) and pick a wrong horse when desperate for a techno-fix.

Another failing is the confounding of environmental impact of construction and back-up of one energy source with that of the fuelling of another. Just because there is such an impact does not necessarily negate the benefit of a proposed alternative. But the need to properly account for ALL impacts has often been ignored by the proponents of “climate friendly” alternatives.

The smug and smarmy manner of Ozzie Zehner playing “gotcha” with solar and wind projects doesn’t help matters (but he seems a lot less offensive in the live chat session that accompanied the movie’s release)

Anyhow, what I find most interesting about all this is the lengths to which people will go to make it all about them and miss the very clear actual point of the exercise.

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