The Age of Stupid--a movie review

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:45 PM GMT on September 24, 2009

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I attended an interesting film premier Tuesday night--the international release of the anti-global warming pseudo-documentary The Age of Stupid. The movie opened at 440 theaters in the U.S., plus hundreds of theaters in 63 other countries, for a total viewing audience organizers estimated at one million people. This was a Guinness World Record for largest simultaneous movie premiere, according to the organizers. The evening began with a live satellite simulcast beamed from New York City, hosted by Gideon Yago of MTV/CNN fame. We were treated to live interviews with British director Franny Armstrong, producer Lizzie Gillett, as well as movies stars like Gillian Anderson (X-files) and Heather Graham ("we need to stop climate change, or else we're screwed"). Some humorous moments were provided by several protesters pretending to be corporate CEOs, who wore Model X7 Survivaballs as they rolled down the recycled pop-bottle green carpet (survivaballs' motto: "while others look to Senate bills or U.N. accords for a climate solution, we look to our best engineers"). We also heard rock star Moby perform on a sound stage powered by four bicyclists peddling on an specially-designed stationary bike rack. Very cute.

After about twenty minutes of these preliminaries, the 92-minute long Age of Stupid movie began. It opens with some beautiful computer animation of the Big Bang and four billion years of evolution, terminating in the year 2055. As the animation screeches to a halt, we are shown jarring scenes of London drowned by rising seas, Las Vegas drifted over by sand dunes, Sydney burning (eerily appropriate after yesterday's fiery red-orange skies spawned by Sydney's record dust storm), and a ruined Taj Mahal in a scorched landscape. I thought this was a bit overdone, since it is highly unlikely that climate change will be able to cause any of these effects by 2055. The scene then shifts to a futuristic building in the ice-free Arctic, where actor Pete Postlethwaite stars as the curator of an archive of human knowledge. He begins looking at old documentary footage from 2008 and asks the question, why didn't we stop climate change when we had the chance?


Figure 1. A flooded London in the year 2055 in The Age of Stupid.

The rest of the movie is a documentary, shot over the past four years in the UK, Nigeria, New Orleans, Iraq, Jordan, The Alps, and India. Six separate stories are followed:

Alvin DuVernay, a Shell Oil scientist who rescued 100 people after Hurricane Katrina
Layefa Malemi, a woman living in Shell's most profitable oil region in Nigeria
Jamila and Adnan Bayyoud, two Iraqi refugee kids trying to find their brother
Piers Guy, a wind farm developer fighting the anti-windfarm lobby in England
Fernand Pareau, 82-year old French mountain guide
Jeh Wadia, a businessman starting a low-cost airline in India

The six stories are interwoven and told in multiple sections, with jumps back and forth to curator Pete Postlethwaite in the future, who is viewing these documentary clips on his futuristic video screen. I found this creative approach to story telling a bit disorienting, but give the film maker credit for trying something innovative. Interspersed with the documentary footage are some fairly compelling animations. My favorite was an illustration of how America's excessive consumption is responsible for at least 1/4 of China's greenhouse gas emissions, since we buy so much cheap junk from China (which often ends up back in a China landfill). A lot of preaching goes on in the movie, with the film maker criticizing our excessive consumerism and our willingness to fight wars over oil. I thought the most compelling story of the six documentary pieces was the tale of the Nigerian woman living in the toxic mess that the oil industry has made in Nigeria. Cheap oil at the pumps in America has huge hidden costs that we don't appreciate.

While the movie did have some interesting sections with messages Americans need to hear, I thought overall the movie was too long and too dull to be worth spending a full-price movie admission ticket for. At least one of the six documentary sections should have been cut--92 minutes is too long for a documentary. It's pretty hard to make a gripping documentary movie about global warming, and The Age of Stupid and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth are not gripping. You're better off viewing these at home on DVD. Rating: two stars (out of four).

After the movie, the live simulcast from New York City resumed, and we heard speeches from Kofi Annan, former U.N. Secretary General, who called climate change "Perhaps the biggest challenge we face today". Also speaking was the President of the Maldives, an island nation mostly situated less than two meters above sea level. Sea level rise from climate change is a huge threat to his nation, and the president made a pledge to make his nation the first country to be carbon-neutral, by 2020. We also heard from the scientist who heads the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra K. Pachauri, who affirmed the movie's contention that we need to have global emissions of CO2 stop increasing by 2015 in order to avoid dangerous climate change.

The Age of Stupid as part of a media blitz
The release of The Age of Stupid this week was timed to bring visibility to the climate change issue and help mobilize public opinion in advance of the crucial U.N. Climate Change Conference, which will be held December 7 - 18 in Copenhagen, Denmark. At that meeting, the leaders of the world will gather to negotiate an agreement to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The new agreement will be the world's roadmap for dealing with climate change, and the stakes are huge. The Age of Stupid is key part of a major push green lobby push this week to publicize their key goals:

1) Reducing the 3% per year increase in CO2 emissions we've seen this decade to 0% by 2015.
2) An 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.
3) An eventual return to CO2 levels of 350 ppm--well below the current level of 388 ppm.

Activists are targeting the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh this week as part of their effort; four Greenpeace protesters hung a "Danger: Climate Destruction Ahead, Reduce CO2 Emission Now" banner from a Pittsburgh bridge and dangled beneath the bridge for two hours yesterday. Greenpeace activists were also present as I walked out of the Age of Stupid premiere Tuesday, gathering signatures in support of a petition to urge CO2 controls be agreed upon at the December Copenhagen conference.

A return salvo from the fossil fuel industry and its allies is coming in the next few weeks. They have their own British film maker, Ann McElhinney, who has created a documentary titled, Not Evil Just Wrong, which premiers October 18. They've stated their goal of beating the record for simultaneous theaters airing a movie premiere set by The Age of Stupid. I'll be sure to write a review on Not Evil Just Wrong when it comes out.

Tropical update
There is a new tropical wave that moved off the coast of Africa yesterday that is generating some disorganized thunderstorm activity over the Cape Verdes Islands. This morning's QuikSCAT pass showed an elongated circulation two hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verdes Islands. Wind shear is a moderate 10 - 20 knots over the disturbance, and some slow development is possible over the next few days. The disturbance will have to overcome some dry air to its west, though. None of our reliable computer models are forecasting tropical storm development over the next seven days.

Jeff Masters

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Wow, I didn't realize that I was a dumb republican hick just because I live in Texas. Texas is a pretty large state and there are all kinds of people living here... just like everywhere else.
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202. personal attacks occur when someone is not winning the discussion. that's just the way it is...
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Quoting Bonz:
I'd be curious to see this movie, but it doesn't appear to be available on DVD until JANUARY and it's not showing in my area. I never heard of it before today.

How stupid is it to have a "World Premiere" (selected parts of the world, not my part) and then have to wait months to see the movie?



Cuz they want to brainwash the undeducated overseas to make them believe,
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Quoting PcolaDan:
As my grandson says: "Wheeee, this is fun".


I'm not gonna lie, I do enjoy a heated debate every now and then, and I dont understand why more people resort to personal attacks instead of using scientific and logical arguments.
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Back to mode.
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Quoting mikatnight:


DING! The proverbial nail on the head...

Hi All,
Looks like a "heated" discussion...


it is quite heated with all the flaming going around, but good afternoon
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Quoting presslord:
what I don't understand is...people complaining about blog topics...to the best of my knowledge, no one is forced at gunpoint to read or participate here...change the channel if ya don't like the show...


DING! The proverbial nail on the head...

Hi All,
Looks like a "heated" discussion...
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Personally, whether climate change is real or not, I would not dismiss it, as the future depends on it. If it is real, we may already be too late to do anything. This planet is basically over populated, not being cared for, used as a trash can, and because it does not affect the individual they don't see the problem. I really wish the remaining Native American cultures would come forward and teach about mother earth. We need a new way of thinking. Too many people with head in the sand and just do not care. In a sad way economic disaster has actually helped people get in touch with the natural world, by planting gardens, raising chickens, etc even in urban spaces. Learning sustainability for all will help with the climate and feed people.
I am leaving for the day so don't bother flaming me, I wont know before the next blog goes up on Fri....
Just my 2 cents worth and yes I am an enviromental nut and proud of it.
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press, this one is for you:

Sheriff Branford: The fact that you are a sheriff is not germane to the situation.
Buford T. Justice: The Germans got nothin' to do with it.

i'll probably get banned for that one. sorry!
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Poor Glen Beck. Even on the weather blog he gets bashed. I wasn't aware you could use the kind of language gator was using. Glad I didn't have my 14 year old checking the blog today for weather information. I am assuming he is gone now???
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Quoting presslord:
you're right..."Germaine" is one of the Jackson 5...


call us even? lol

Quoting hercj:
I will agree with one thing he said. You are ok Tornado.


thanks :)
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LOL @ 187. press, you kill me!
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190. hercj
Quoting tornadodude:


haha yeah
I will agree with one thing he said. You are ok Tornado.
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weather456 can you post the MJO map
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Quoting hercj:
I was born and raised there and a grad of A&M. I am now in Gainesville and I teach at UF. I put up with that all the time.


yeah, just dont let it get to you
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you're right..."Germaine" is one of the Jackson 5...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
186. hercj
Quoting tornadodude:


makes me feel awkward... the only nice thing he said was about me, and I was born in Texas and lived there for 8 years..
I was born and raised there and a grad of A&M. I am now in Gainesville and I teach at UF. I put up with that all the time.
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Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:


So he insulted you by insulting where you are from and then complimented you later on


maybe he should be a politician lol


haha yeah
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Quoting tornadodude:


makes me feel awkward... the only nice thing he said was about me, and I was born in Texas and lived there for 8 years..


So he insulted you by insulting where you are from and then complimented you later on


maybe he should be a politician lol
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Quoting hercj:
Nope typical man of the left.


makes me feel awkward... the only nice thing he said was about me, and I was born in Texas and lived there for 8 years..
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182. hercj
Quoting jrweatherman:
Typical Gator - always whining.
Nope typical man of the left.
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Typical Gator - always whining.
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180. hercj
Quoting BurnedAfterPosting:


Urban Meyer is that you? LOL
Oh man that was funny.
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Quoting RitaRefugee:
Oh, one more thing. Happy Rita-versary. 4 years.

RitaSurvivor: You all have my heart. My first disaster assistance deployment. I went to train for Katrina and wound up working Rita instead. Thank G-d, or I would have folded like a leaf.
Rita Survivors Rock!
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Quoting presslord:
tornado...find me one credible tropical meteorologist who says climate is not germaine and I'll cede the point...


I believe you meant "germane," but I agree, climate is intertwined with meteorology. presslord: 1 Tornadodude: 0
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175. hercj
You know Gators23, I went back and read the posts. Not one person said anything inappropriate to you. You are a man of the left and therefore attacked. You got it handed to you when you did and now you are leaving. I am going to miss you. NOT!!!!!
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Quoting sullivanweather:


HAPPY ROSHASHANA to you too!! WooHoo! LOL


Whoo hoo, indeed, thanks, Sully, that's pretty funny. My husband's Irish-American and a Sullivan clan grew up on the corner.
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tornado...find me one credible tropical meteorologist who says climate is not germaine and I'll cede the point...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting presslord:
what I don't understand is...people complaining about blog topics...to the best of my knowledge, no one is forced at gunpoint to read or participate here...change the channel if ya don't like the show...


I compare this to MTV (music television) always doing reality shows etc. why not change the channel name to RTV?
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what I don't understand is...people complaining about blog topics...to the best of my knowledge, no one is forced at gunpoint to read or participate here...change the channel if ya don't like the show...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting RitaRefugee:
Oh, one more thing. Happy Rita-versary. 4 years.


has it really been that long! man, seems like yesterday!

that NWS radio announcement will forever be burned in my memory...

"Rita is now a dangerous Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale."
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RitaRefugee: "One comment on GW and I'm back to lurking. If we're to blame for GW this time, what is to blame for last time? Mammoth farts?"

Mammoth SUV's...?
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If the people promoting all this mess actually believed it,
they wouldn't do the things they do.

I'll believe it when they do.

The science fiction movie says:
"apart from setting a forest on fire, flying is the single worst thing
an individual could do to cause climate change,"

And then the directors and promoters immediately get on planes,
and fly all over the world promoting their movie.

You can't possibly actually believe,
and then do that.
It's all about making money.

.
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Oh, one more thing. Happy Rita-versary. 4 years.
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

HAPPY ROSHASHANA to all, and you too, Gator!


HAPPY ROSHASHANA to you too!! WooHoo! LOL

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Quoting Bonz:
I'd be curious to see this movie, but it doesn't appear to be available on DVD until JANUARY and it's not showing in my area. I never heard of it before today.

How stupid is it to have a "World Premiere" (selected parts of the world, not my part) and then have to wait months to see the movie?



They introduced this movie at this time for a couple of reasons:

1. The upcoming conference to replace the failed Kyoto treaty (which was signed by Clinton, and never passed by the House/Senate). Gotta "raise awareness" now.

2. Makes it eligible for next year's academy awards. Trying for that oscar.

So here's the deal. Man is unable to accurately tell the "global temperature" with the current measurement systems in place. Four different org's are trying, and they can't even agree on what "normal" or "zero" is.

One is run by a self-proclaimed activist, who uses his name and job title to make statements calling for civil disobedience.

One is run by someone who won't even let other scientists see his data, using every trick available to keep his data secret.

Two are satellite based, which means that they only have about 30 years or so of data to play with.

So who actually knows how much the temp has gone up, and whether the current temperature rise is "unprecidented" over the last million years?
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161. Murko
Quoting Weather456:
I dont understand whats the big fuss. Earth's climate is always changing and yes man is contributing to some extent, but these climatic processes are greater than man in both spatial (large scale) and temporal (millions of years, while we only hundreds of years of data)


The fuss is because in the past we didn't have billions of people living in vulnerable areas. The processes involved in warming the planet also have a feedback effect, so loss of ice means more thermal warming, which means more loss of ice, which means more thermal warming, for example. So whatever little we can do is worth it. The CO2 levels and temps have shown an almost exponential rise since the industrial revolution, so I don't think there can be much doubt about man's effect.

BTW, through ice cores, we now have data going back millions of years, not just 100s.
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

You're a mensch, TornadoD- (loosely translated, a standup guy.)


thanks :)
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How has the MJO maps
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Then stand bye to get flamed..it happens everytime... I just wish they would take it to the GW Blog... where it belongs. I know I know.. Jeff put it in his Blog so its fair game.


It's part of it, those who believed the world was round got flamed. I stated my opinion-


I agree that we are warming, but the main cause is questionable. I'm not saying that man doesnt play a role in it, but I do believe that earth goes through cycles as well. It is a very bold statement for someone to say that this is the fastest temperature increase the earth has ever experienced. I do think that cutting down on emissions, saving energy, and "going green" are smart ideas, but only if they do more good than bad. The less pollutants, the better, and we have the technology to effectively decrease the output of these gases. I see no reason why we shouldnt try to conserve fuel and energy. It is part of responsibly using our resources. Now, should we fight about the cause, or actually do something about it?
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Then stand bye to get flamed..it happens everytime... I just wish they would take it to the GW Blog... where it belongs. I know I know.. Jeff put it in his Blog so its fair game.


You can get flamed but that does not mean you have to get burn. :) meaning, dont respond.
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Nora might have company soon....

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Quoting tornadodude:


so, when it is Christmas, do you flag people for wishing you a happy holiday?

You're a mensch, TornadoD- (loosely translated, a standup guy.)
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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