Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Lessons from 'The Age of Stupid'

We watched the film, 'The Age of Stupid' at the weekend. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's a film about climate change and the link between our current lifestyles and the probable climate change impacts that will result for future generations.  A narrator (supposedly in the year 2055) shows actual news clips from 2008 and wonders how the people living at that time could have misunderstood climate change when the evidence was on obvious display. We also follow the stories of seven real people, each from a different country and each presenting a different perspective to a particular issue of climate-change. The film poses the hypothetical question of why we ignored the signs, the warnings and the advice of global warming scientists and essentially brought about own ruin (by 2055) through our own inaction.

On the one hand, it didn't tell my husband and I anything we didn't already know. Humans are using up the earth’s resources faster than they are being reproduced, ice caps are melting, there is very little political will at the local or global level to implement change, air travel is the most detrimental effect individuals make towards global warming etc.... On the other hand, there was something about the movie that really made an impression on me. One of the scientists interviewed mentioned that because the effects of global warming are not immediate, people find it hard to comprehend the necessity to act now. I think that's true. We hear a fair amount about climate change on the news and yet many of us are still sceptical / reluctant / lazy about doing something to help avoid the effects of global warming on the earth and on future generations.

As parents, our outlook on world issues certainly changes when there are little people to consider. You feel a sense of responsibility for your children and want to leave them the world as a good place, even better than you found it. Things that might not have interested you previously suddenly take on a significance, from politics to the environment. 'The Age of Stupid' struck a chord with me and highlighted the importance of acting now and doing everything we can, before there's no time left. We need to look ahead to assure a safe and happy future for our children and grandchildren.

Part of the reason people are not taking enough action right now is I think because it involves making choices that go against what we're used to and that disrupt our comfort zone. Take flying for example. One of my close friends saw this movie before we did and commented that whilst she recognised the concern of climate change, she couldn't envisage cutting down on her flights. She's a voracious traveller and doesn't yet have children. She's somewhere in the Carribean as I write.... I also love to travel and between us, my husband and I have close family in three different countries so not flying isn't an easy option for us. We can however make choices, like taking to the train to visit my parents in France or taking our own holidays closer to home to avoid air travel.

One of the characters in the film is a British windfarmer and you watch with dismay and a bit of disgust as his proposed windfarm in Bedfordshire is denied, mainly because the locals don't want their view spoilt. At some point, we have to acknowledge that compromises have to be made - we can't have it all. Or rather, if we try to have it all, there will be nothing left for future generations.

One of my new year's resolutions this year is to be more green. Specifically, I'm aiming to do small things like switch off the toaster, kettle, coffee maker etc at the plug each night, waste less water when washing up dishes, be more aware of our use of electricity (lighting in particular) and reduce my usage of plastic bags in supermarkets (by taking my own re-usable bags). After watching this film, I went to the Not Stupid website and was pleased to see it full of helpful suggestions of how we can each contribute to reducing the impact of global warming. It suggests you firstly sign up to the 10:10 campaign, whereby we all work together to cut the UK's carbon emissions by 10%. Each month, you'll be given a tip on how to reduce your own carbon footprint. Have a look at their checklist for some ideas to get you started. I've signed up. You should too! If you're not in the UK, have a look at their global site.

If you haven't yet seen The Age of Stupid, you can download it from the official site here. If you've seen the film, what did you think about it? What are your thoughts on climate change and cutting carbon emissions?


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  1. I'm all for going grean and if it takes movies like that one to do it, so be it. BUT...I believe that in the end the planet is much more powerful than we are. It will do what it needs to do to survive; we may not like it but it will prevail. Nature always does. These climate changes have been going on for eons, well before man even touched the surface of the Earth. Let's do what's right and trust!
    A note: global warming has been changed into climate change, which show that even scientists are revising their opinion. Fascinating!

  2. Thanks for sharing your views Maryse. I agree that climate change has been going on for eons without any major problems and I admire your trust in nature. I just wonder if nature can only take so much before there is irreparable damage....It's an interesting debate for sure!

  3. Hello again!
    A never ending debate, my friend. No one knows for sure what is going on. One thing is for certain: we do not want to end up like the dinosaurs so we'd better be careful! :)
    Moving on to your new post now.


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