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 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...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
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.
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Quoting Chicklit:


Why isn't anything developing?
there is a lot of shear or/and dry air.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


While El Nino may increase the number of recurvatures in a given year, one would expect recurvature of a tropical cyclone in the EATL prior to reaching the United States coastline during late September, anyway.


KoritheMan talk with me on yahoo IM we have lots of things too talk about
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Quoting Dakster:
That weather dot com has my lowest, low a brisk and chilly 75 over the next 10 days.


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.
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Well I do hope we get another fish storm or two so that we don't have to hear all winter from the downcasters crowing about the season being dead in mid September :)


lol
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076


Why isn't anything developing?
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Quoting iceman55:
garbage as****beep beep gfs models


???
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Off- Topic... he is talking movies instead of weather >:(
never seen jeff write non-weather blogs :O

Probaly in mid november he will write on this blog about the movie 2012
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Well I do hope we get another fish storm or two so that we don't have to hear all winter from the downcasters crowing about the season being dead in mid September :)


Same, but my reason is different. I just want a couple more storms to track.
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That weather dot com has my lowest, low a brisk and chilly 75 over the next 10 days.
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Quoting Chicklit:

Now that's usual for this season, isn't it.


While El Nino may increase the number of recurvatures in a given year, one would expect recurvature of a tropical cyclone in the EATL prior to reaching the United States coastline during late September, anyway.
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Quoting markymark1973:
The trough headed towards the EC on Sunday/Monday should turn that system south of Bermuda out to sea.

Now that's usual for this season, isn't it.
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Quoting iceman55:
Tonight
Sep 24


Isolated T-Storms

N/A
72°

30%



30%

Fri
Sep 25


PM T-Storms

86°
72°

40%



40%

Sat
Sep 26


Scattered T-Storms

85°
70°

40%



40%

Sun
Sep 27


Isolated T-Storms

86°
71°

30%



30%

Mon
Sep 28


Partly Cloudy

89°
67°

10%



10%

Tue
Sep 29


Sunny

82°
63°

10%



10%

Wed
Sep 30


Sunny

82°
64°

0%



0%

Thu
Oct 1


Sunny

80°
67°

0%



0%

Fri
Oct 2


Scattered T-Storms

81°
68°

50%



50%

Sat
Oct 3


Scattered T-Storms

81°
61°

no cold air


The forecast high temperatures during most of those days are well below average, even if the nighttime temperatures aren't terribly cold.
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486. JRRP
430
Alt 164
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Quoting ElConando:


Tallahassee bud


Darn...
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Quoting Dakster:


Is that for SOUTHFLORIDA?


Tallahassee bud
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Quoting Yalahaman:
Where's the love? I am not feeling it tonight! I go now. Good night!


Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 12 Comments: 6010
Quoting ElConando:
woah a low of 60 on tues and 62 on wed. Nothing earth shattering but nice cool morning doesn't hurt :).


Is that for SOUTHFLORIDA?
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Quoting IKE:


Suppose to turn NW, then recurve.


only unless it deepens
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
woah a low of 60 on tues and 62 on wed. Nothing earth shattering but nice cool morning doesn't hurt :).
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Where's the love? I am not feeling it tonight! I go now. Good night!
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weather dot com has the low on Tuesday for Tallahassee at 60.
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Quoting Drakoen:
Nice tropical wave with surface observations confirming a broad low level circulation. Upper level winds are favorable for development but there is dry air west of the area as seen on water vapor imagery and satellite imagery.


A steadily organizing CV Tropical Wave. Will it form...only time will tell. I would expect NHC to state that it has become better organized, and further development is possible over the next few days at 8 pm
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472. IKE
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
IKE I hope we get some cool air here too--our forecast lows are down to mid 60s middle of next week.

Does that east African wave have any prospects?


Suppose to turn NW, then recurve.
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To set the record straight - I will back up my statement. Here is the link to Dr. Gray's 2009 Forecast, issued December 2008. Link

He states:

14 - 7 - 3 and an ACE of 125 (a NTC of 135)


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469. IKE
The kind of extended discussion I like to read...from Mobile,AL...

"THE NEXT BIG TROUGH QUICKLY FOLLOWS THE FIRST...DIVING SOUTHEAST INTO
THE NORTH CENTRAL CONUS SUNDAY NIGHT. A STRONG COLD FRONT WILL
QUICKLY MOVE TOWARD THE REGION...ENTERING THE NW CWA BY EARLY MONDAY
EVENING AND CLEARING THE COAST BY DAYBREAK TUESDAY. RAIN CHANCES LOOK
VERY SLIM ALONG THE FRONT GIVEN THAT THE DEEP LAYER MOISTURE IS
SCOURED OUT BY THE PRECEDING TROUGH. AFTER ONE MORE VERY WARM DAY
MONDAY...MUCH COOLER AND DRIER AIR WILL FILTER IN FOR THE TUE-THU
TIME FRAME. HIGHS TUE-THU GENERALLY IN THE LOWER 80S...A FEW DEGREES
BELOW...HOWEVER GIVEN THE STRENGTH OF THE FRONT WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED
TO SEE SOME LOCATIONS NOT MAKE IT OUT OF THE UPPER 70S. LOWS WED
AND THU MORNING PROGGED TO BE IN THE MID TO UPPER 50S WITH LOWER 60S
ALONG THE BEACHES. NOW THAT SOUNDS REFRESHING."
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Quoting hurricaneseason2006:


*yawn*


And Hurricaneseason2006 runs away with his tail between his legs like a kicked dog... Or like WS does when actually challenged to back up his statements...

Maybe you two are the same...
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465. JLPR
suddenly the blog got very quiet :P
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Quoting hurricaneseason2006:


You could of fooled me.

Second, some people predicted this inactivity very well thank you and third only one organization was prediting above normal activity. Dr Gray and NOAA was predicitng around 10 named storms. See how much you can learn by just reading.


We will just have to agree that we disagree.

IIRC, It was only just before the season at the earliest that the TOP range of 10 named storms were predicted. Since you seem to have all the answers, please post the link to Dr. Master's archived blog where 10 named storms were first predicted. I know it wasn't in October of 2008.

I remember a May forecast where they(*) said it wasn't going to be a hyperactive season, but since "we were in a time of increased tropical cyclone activity" it should still be an above average season. It wasn't until El Nino, Shear, and SAL took a foothold that the predictions were lowered. BTW, they were lowered on several occasions, again, if my normally photographic memory is functioning correctly.


If I am wrong, you will have a sincere and public apology...

* - They = NOAA and Dr. Gray's group.
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462. JLPR
CV Tropical Wave seems to be in mostly moist environment right now but it is very dry to the west, it needs to continue to moisten its environment and isolate itself from the dry air

dry air (mid level)
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Yellow Circle coming at 2am

Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 179 Comments: 20448
Quoting JLPR:


lol I will send that answer in a mail =P
sensible user could get offended by the simple word lol


True. Just like call an adult male of a certain ethnic group "boy" and it is an egregious insult. To another group, it is a term of endearment.
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Pottery WARNING rain on the way.
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456. JLPR
Quoting Dakster:


WS, Your spanish is as bad as your weather forecasting... You want to know why I put the line on top of the N, because you don't?

I don't really know how to answer that.

JLPR -

CoƱo is not neccessarily a bad word. It is an acceptable FCC word, so it should be ok here.

BTW, What does bicho mean to you? In Miami it means mosquito.


lol I will send that answer in a mail =P
sensible user could get offended by the simple word lol
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Quoting ElConando:
hacer tu vas al la bano weather student?

Does the coriolous effect work on the toilet or no.


ROFLMAO....

Quoting hurricaneseason2006:


Your just like your brother Drak, a total idiot. You know what the forecaster meant but you choose to be niaeve. Typical.


First, Drak and I are hardly related. Second, the REAL Hurricane Forecasters that are internationally known for their ability to predict how active a Hurricane Season will be, can't get the prediction right several months before the start of the season.

Let;s just take THIS SEASON for example. They were still predicting an above average season in the May forecast... And what do we have so far? The looks of a very INACTIVE season with a very low ACE.

I wasn't bashing the poster - I was criticizing a MET, talking out of class...
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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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