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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555. JRRP

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VortMax1969:
If you're familiar with the workings of the federal govt. July/August tend to become tight on spending. When September rolls around any monies that are still on the books are spent in anticipation of the new fiscal year October.
It's a use it or lose it mentality. Nobody wants to answer for going over budget, but you don't want your budget cut for lack of use either. Training and a few needs that weren't high priority tend to get filled in these times.



I am extremely familiar with the procedures.
That is why I posted my comment.



I caught that. Just elaborated. :)
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Quoting Dakster:


Do you think the Dolphins will show up to the game against San Diego... The last couple of games were not that great.


they were soo close on monday, but soo far. they have to win on sunday.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
If you're familiar with the workings of the federal govt. July/August tend to become tight on spending. When September rolls around any monies that are still on the books are spent in anticipation of the new fiscal year October.
It's a use it or lose it mentality. Nobody wants to answer for going over budget, but you don't want your budget cut for lack of use either. Training and a few needs that weren't high priority tend to get filled in these times.



I am extremely familiar with the procedures.
That is why I posted my comment.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting iceman55:
Seastep wow thank i delete it.


No problem. Has probably happened at one point or another for most.
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Quoting dolphingalrules:


those are fighting words....dolphins rules


Don't shoot me, I'm on your side. The only bigger fan around here is my wife. It's just that...the Fish are having some difficulties...
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Must be really bored if they're flying into an Upper level low with a surface trough.


There might be a surface circulation.

CIMSS and ascat point in that direction.

Of course, QS is going to miss it tonight.
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Quoting dolphingalrules:


those are fighting words....dolphins rules


Do you think the Dolphins will show up to the game against San Diego... The last couple of games were not that great.
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Should've used UPS instead of FredEx...
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Quoting mikatnight:


I believe it's the San Diego Chargers this Sunday.


those are fighting words....dolphins rules
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good evening.

514. iceman55 - your ESL loop is from 9/20...
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Quoting VortMax1969:
I doubt they will fly a low-level Invest flight but it would be nice for some research flights in there!

They have a lot of unspent fuel...please put it to research guys!!



If you're familiar with the workings of the federal govt. July/August tend to become tight on spending. When September rolls around any monies that are still on the books are spent in anticipation of the new fiscal year October.
It's a use it or lose it mentality. Nobody wants to answer for going over budget, but you don't want your budget cut for lack of use either. Training and a few needs that weren't high priority tend to get filled in these times.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting dolphingalrules:
and what name is this storm



Theres nothing out there named- well in the Atlantic theres not
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fred is dead....fred is with wilma having a nice life.
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guys give it a rest about EX fred ok??? it gone he made land fall in NC and fell a part has it came in so its gone its done its POOF


can we may be stop talking about fred now and move on too some in new


that storm was a pain in the you no what too track



it came back then it POOF it came back it went POOF what a pain that that storm was


any one can we forget all about EX fred and move on???
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and what name is this storm
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
There is one impressive wave and a very impressive wave; the most impressive ones over Africa and is firing very very deep convection, and the one that emerged off of Africa already is organizing, slowly.

those waves are anywhre 10 days to 21/2 weeks ahead even 3 weeks....we should be look in the gulf
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Quoting will40:



Well they havent had much training this year


Well thats probably why they're doing it.

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I doubt they will fly a low-level Invest flight but it would be nice for some research flights in there!

They have a lot of unspent fuel...please put it to research guys!!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting VortMax1969:
The ULL is supposed to drill down???
LMAO...good luck on that!





Its not impossible for that to occur
Quoting Stormchaser2007:
Must be really bored if they're flying into an Upper level low with a surface trough.



Well they havent had much training this year
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Must be really bored if they're flying into an Upper level low with a surface trough.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The ULL is supposed to drill down???
LMAO...good luck on that!



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Quoting will40:


The one near Bermuda i think


The large ULL has been showing signs of a surface reflection

that is what the recon flight is for
Quoting VortMax1969:
Hello???

What will be near 30 and 65 on Saturday?
Please...anyone???



WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.
0915 AM EDT THU 24 SEPTEMBER 2009
SUBJECT: TROPICAL CYCLONE PLAN OF THE DAY (TCPOD)
VALID 25/1100Z TO 26/1100Z SEPTEMBER 2009
TCPOD NUMBER.....09-119

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. NEGATIVE RECONNAISSANCE REQUIREMENTS.
2. SUCCEEDING DAY OUTLOOK: POSSIBLE LOW LEVEL
INVEST NEAR 30N 65W AT 26/1800Z.

II. PACIFIC REQUIREMENTS
1. NEGATIVE RECONNAISSANCE REQUIREMENTS.
2. OUTLOOK FOR SUCCEEDING DAY.....NEGATIVE.
JWP




The one near Bermuda i think
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hello???

What will be near 30 and 65 on Saturday?
Please...anyone???



WEATHER RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS
CARCAH, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI, FL.
0915 AM EDT THU 24 SEPTEMBER 2009
SUBJECT: TROPICAL CYCLONE PLAN OF THE DAY (TCPOD)
VALID 25/1100Z TO 26/1100Z SEPTEMBER 2009
TCPOD NUMBER.....09-119

I. ATLANTIC REQUIREMENTS
1. NEGATIVE RECONNAISSANCE REQUIREMENTS.
2. SUCCEEDING DAY OUTLOOK: POSSIBLE LOW LEVEL
INVEST NEAR 30N 65W AT 26/1800Z.

II. PACIFIC REQUIREMENTS
1. NEGATIVE RECONNAISSANCE REQUIREMENTS.
2. OUTLOOK FOR SUCCEEDING DAY.....NEGATIVE.
JWP


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Brief tropical update.

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Quoting dsauder:
Jeff,
Can anyone really be serious when they imply that the difference between the target CO2 concentration of 350 ppm and the current concentration stated to be 388 ppm is at all significant?

Especially when water vapor is widely acknowledged to cause the vast majority of any actual greenhouse effect?

Could you please explain how a 3/4 degree C rise in global atmospheric temperature can possibly cause any significant melting of the polar ice caps?

That sure seems like a rather extreme stretch to me.


Good Evening, we had an EXTREMELY heated discussion about this earlier today!! Google "Global Warming", read the "for" and 'against" arguments!!

Start with this link!!!
http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/09/04/20090904climate-artctictemps0904.html
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Jeff,
Can anyone really be serious when they imply that the difference between the target CO2 concentration of 350 ppm and the current concentration stated to be 388 ppm is at all significant?

Especially when water vapor is widely acknowledged to cause the vast majority of any actual greenhouse effect?

Could you please explain how a 3/4 degree C rise in global atmospheric temperature can possibly cause any significant melting of the polar ice caps?

That sure seems like a rather extreme stretch to me.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting iceman55:
xfred 100% dead

"Ding dong FredEx is dead, FredEx is dead, FredEx is dead!!Ding dong the wicked FredEx is dead :0)!!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
Hi guys whats up
Quoting zoomiami:
I think that Fredex will be around for a while, out there, in the middle of no where, hanging out with Karen.

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT FRED EX IS DEAD OVER THE U.S.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Quoting iceman55:
no more xfred

THROW a PARTY!! Noticed those 3 awesome looking WAVES over Africa! Whether or not 1 or more of them develop is the big question!! Is the SAL going to smother them all, or will wind shear blow them to shreds!

"To be, or not to be (a Tropical system), that is the question"!! Sorry Mr. Shakespeare!! How does the long range shear forecast look for the Eastern Atlantic over the next few days??
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
I think that Fredex will be around for a while, out there, in the middle of no where, hanging out with Karen.
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Quoting iceman55:








oh wow wave
There is one impressive wave and a very impressive wave; the most impressive one is over Africa and is firing very very deep convection, and the one that emerged off of Africa already is organizing, slowly.
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511. flsky
Quoting ElConando:
weather dot com has the low on Tuesday for Tallahassee at 60.

Wow! That sounds delicious! Will we get some relief in CFL as well?
Member Since: October 24, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2045
Hi, all.
Quoting somemalayguy117:
Is that Fred-ex???
fred has been gone. if it comes it will be a new system.
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Quoting Chicklit:
Okay, one foot long post is enough...two is downright annoying. how about "edit"????
also, i really cannot stand it when politics take the place of rational thought.
my idol is albert einstein.
he was his own man, his own thinker.
never went by anyone's party line.
i'm off.
that is why i was off most of the day. all that is written will not change what people think. just a lot of arguing.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Yellow Circle coming at 2am

Is that Fred-ex???
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Quoting Dakster:
That weather dot com has my lowest, low a brisk and chilly 75 over the next 10 days.
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Quoting ElConando:


I remember having to wear a long sleeve shirt in the morning in miami for shcool with the temps in the low 70's because the wind was very high and made it feel like it was in the lower 60's. Likely also because there was no humidity either.


When daytime highs are in the very low 70's, I agree. Not during the current sauna conditions we have. I love how it rains for 5 minutes every morning. Just enough to cause steam rise off the pavement at 9am...
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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.