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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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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Quoting tornadodude:


I agree with you guys


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.
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LOL...i guess you are all inept! ;)
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Thank you :)
I have been saying that for years.


I agree with you guys
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
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).

What if the globe cooled over the next 50 years? These things just cannot be predicted and assess on the amount of info we have. Some say earth was once hotter than it is now.


Thank you :)
I have been saying that for years.
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Quoting gator23:

you were already flagged, but hey i flagged you again.


so, when it is Christmas, do you flag people for wishing you a happy holiday?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Quoting Orcasystems:
Crud... Global warming... Religion... and Pentium 90's....


Just shoot me now :(


I believe it's safe once again!! New TOPIC!! The TROPICS!! LOL!!

And by the way, someone's has been watching old Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd cartoons!!!
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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).

What if the globe cooled over the next 50 years? These things just cannot be predicted and assess on the amount of info we have. Some say earth was once hotter than it is now.
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146. Murko
Quoting tornadodude:
76-

I know you said you arent meaning any offense, but you are basically calling anyone who doesnt believe in man made GW and believes in God scientifically inept.


I think that people who don't believe in man made GW just haven't read or understood the evidence. Same goes for people who believe in the christian god, or that the Abrahamic god is "love", or in the literal truth of the bible. People who can't evaluate the evidence, or base their beliefs on dogma are scientifically inept IMO.

It's nothing to be ashamed of. Some people just don't have the necessary scientific training and so are more open to received opinions. I have no weather forecast training and so I'm weather inept!
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Quoting Bordonaro:


Artic and Antartic ice cores have been carbon-14 dated, melted an analysed!! We're warming!!!


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?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Quoting pearlandaggie:


sounds more like a person than a computer! LOL i actually had to look it up! ;0


Put it this way... my first programming language was "machine" language.. then we got fancy and moved onto "Basic"

But enough about my age... I am putting all my hope and energy into the Africa Blobs and the Caribbean .. we need something to happen
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I find the whole GW/Climate Change debate hilarious. People can't even agree on whether or not it exists, so do you really think anything will ever be done about it? ESPECIALLY on a global scale?

Use the Louisiana wetlands as an example. it has been proven beyond doubt that LA has been losing its wetlands at an alarming rate for decades. LA has been to the US congress countless times over the last 30 years asking for help in restoring the wetlands yet NOTHING EVER GETS DONE.

Without guaranteed proof of man made climate change nothing will EVER be done about it...and even then you will be lucky to have anything done in time to prevent permanent irreversible damage.

Environmental issues are great fodder for politicians but when it comes down to actually acting on environmental problems it is a completely different story.
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Quoting clwstmchasr:
I do not understand why the NHC has put recon on standby for 2 days out yet do not even mention the area in the TWO. Any logical reasoning behind it?


Is that a "Jeopardy" question for $200?? The answer is, "What is the Federal Government/NHC guidelines"??
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Quoting gator23:
I have flagged anyone talking about religion

HAPPY ROSHASHANA to all, and you too, Gator!
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138. hercj
Quoting clwstmchasr:
I do not understand why the NHC has put recon on standby for 2 days out yet do not even mention the area in the TWO. Any logical reasoning behind it?
yes they need a 24 turn time in order to put the crew in "Crew Rest".24 hour turn time. sorry.
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Greetings, from 11n 61w. Trinidad.
Looking at the wave east of here, and hoping for some rain.
Temp is 95f, and it has been there or thereabouts for a couple weeks. Very dry, for this time of year.
Bring it on>>>>>>>>
Member Since: October 24, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 24390
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Quoting Orcasystems:


My first computer was actually a Timex Sinclair.


sounds more like a person than a computer! LOL i actually had to look it up! ;0
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Quoting tornadodude:


how far back do our temperature records go? can we accurately assume that this is the most extreme temperature increase that a planet that is supposedly billions of years old has ever seen??


Arctic and Antarctic ice cores have been carbon-14 dated, melted an analysed!! We're warming!!!
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Nora....
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Quoting pearlandaggie:
117. oh, come on, Orca! LOL...I'm sure you'd have substituted a TRS80 or similar, but for me to do so would have been disingenuous.


My first computer was actually a Timex Sinclair.
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Quoting iceman55:



HERE COMEING MJO


The MJO rising when the iceman cometh.
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Quoting Unfriendly:


Just to clarify:
I am agnostic (spiritual, but not religious)- and believe that there is some higher power; who are we to say who they are? I also am an extremely logical and scientific person - I look at the facts, not speculation or theories, and then make a decision based on what I see. I see the temperatures during the 20th century increase worldwide, at a rate basically unmatched. I see a DIRECT correlation between temperatures rising and the amount of CO2 measured in the atmosphere. Therefore, GW (or climate change), is real, and because we are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, it is increasing temperatures. This is science, not specualtion, and that is why I posted what I did.



yep were just going to stop all climate change!! 75 average all the time no matter what sound good?
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some people are brainwashed way too easily...
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117. oh, come on, Orca! LOL...I'm sure you'd have substituted a TRS80 or similar, but for me to do so would have been disingenuous.
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Quoting Unfriendly:


Just to clarify:
I am agnostic (spiritual, but not religious)- and believe that there is some higher power; who are we to say who they are? I also am an extremely logical and scientific person - I look at the facts, not speculation or theories, and then make a decision based on what I see. I see the temperatures during the 20th century increase worldwide, at a rate basically unmatched. I see a DIRECT correlation between temperatures rising and the amount of CO2 measured in the atmosphere. Therefore, GW (or climate change), is real, and because we are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, it is increasing temperatures. This is science, not specualtion, and that is why I posted what I did.


how far back do our temperature records go? can we accurately assume that this is the most extreme temperature increase that a planet that is supposedly billions of years old has ever seen??
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Tropical Update

Good Afternoon all
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Weekend Outlook Posted:
South Florida StormWatch
(main site)
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correlation is not necessarily causation...
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Quoting Unfriendly:


Just to clarify:
I am agnostic (spiritual, but not religious)- and believe that there is some higher power; who are we to say who they are? I also am an extremely logical and scientific person - I look at the facts, not speculation or theories, and then make a decision based on what I see. I see the temperatures during the 20th century increase worldwide, at a rate basically unmatched. I see a DIRECT correlation between temperatures rising and the amount of CO2 measured in the atmosphere. Therefore, GW (or climate change), is real, and because we are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, it is increasing temperatures. This is science, not specualtion, and that is why I posted what I did.


OK, that's COOL!!!
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Crud... Global warming... Religion... and Pentium 90's....


Just shoot me now :(

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Quoting Bordonaro:
Post 76!!

I happen to believe in God and that GW is a problem!! GW is caused by both NATURAL causes and MAN MADE CAUSES!!


Just to clarify:
I am agnostic (spiritual, but not religious)- and believe that there is some higher power; who are we to say who they are? I also am an extremely logical and scientific person - I look at the facts, not speculation or theories, and then make a decision based on what I see. I see the temperatures during the 20th century increase worldwide, at a rate basically unmatched. I see a DIRECT correlation between temperatures rising and the amount of CO2 measured in the atmosphere. Therefore, GW (or climate change), is real, and because we are pumping CO2 into the atmosphere, it is increasing temperatures. This is science, not specualtion, and that is why I posted what I did.
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Quoting Orcasystems:
Its days like today that I really wish something little was heading toward the CONUS.


its days like today that I wish I had more homework.....

ok maybe not that, but it gets old when everyone "debates" GW on here. let's "debate" whether this year's el nino is going to actually strengthen or if it will continue to pretty much be non existent
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Quoting Bordonaro:
Post 76!!

I happen to believe in God and that GW is a problem!! GW is caused by both NATURAL causes and MAN MADE CAUSES!! How much MAN is contribuing is the DEBATE worldwide!! It probably would be WISE if mankind, in all our "supposed glory", use technology to CONTROL CO2 EMISSIONS!!!

The $64,000 Question is, "Are we going to PUSH environmental systems that help control CO2, past a point of no return or not? IF we do WHAT kind of WORLD will this become"????

When you cut down the Amazon rain forest, burn and sell the wood, WITHOUT replanting, you're creating a problem! When India and China burn coal for fuel, without effective environmental controls, you create a problem!! When the Great USA uses fossil fuels, "Partying like it's 1999", even with strict emission contols, we have AIR POLLUTION problems plus being the largest CO2 emitter in the world, we have a problem!!

I'm a little late to the party -- but BRAVO and THANK YOU. (What a relief...someone else who sees it's not an either/or situation. Bless you.)
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Its days like today that I really wish something little was heading toward the CONUS.
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Quoting Bordonaro:
NEW TOPIC EVERYONE!!

Does anyone think that Tropical Wave off of CV will develop into anything meaningful?? What about the AOI at 30N 65W??

Let's just DROP GW PLEASE!!!!!!!


good call
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
NEW TOPIC EVERYONE!!

Does anyone think that Tropical Wave off of CV will develop into anything meaningful?? What about the AOI at 30N 65W??

Let's just DROP GW PLEASE!!!!!!!
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AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI
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Quoting pearlandaggie:


that was back in the day when a Pentium 90 was state-of-the-art! LOL
\

haha wow
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
.
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107. IKE
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT THU SEP 24 2009

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

A TROPICAL WAVE LOCATED JUST WEST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS IS
PRODUCING DISORGANIZED SHOWER ACTIVITY. SOME SLOW DEVELOPMENT OF
THIS SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS IT MOVES
WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT 10 TO 15 MPH. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...LESS
THAN 30 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING
THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER BEVEN
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LOL @ 102.

stop lookin' at me, swan!
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Quoting PcolaDan:
Yea, I can see I'm going to avoid the blog until there is a new one. Flames will be flying in here.

Me >


That poor smiley face is real thirsty isn't he!!
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.