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:
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...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
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.


Been like this the whole season, if it isn't the winds its the SAL and vise versa. What is the shear forecast for the week?
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I'm out! You all have a good evening......BBL



3 AOI with Tropical Update
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
Quoting TampaSpin:


Don't mean to step on 456's question, but i believe by this time next year we will be back in a LaNina position or possibly Nuetral. That usually does not spell well if that is the case.


As long as a repeat of 2005's La Chinga conditions don't return I'll be happy.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
hacer tu vas al la bano weather student?

Does the coriolous effect work on the toilet or no.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting atmoaggie:

But the AGW evidence is fraught with caveats and sometimes contradicts itself. Much less the official projections or even the latest research. For example, it has been rather reasonably stated that GW would increase frequency and intensity of El Ninos. Other researchers also state that GW will increase the frequency and intensity of TCs in the Atlantic. Anyone here will tell you that both, simultaneously, is simply impossible.

All of the data caveats and the contradictory official positions say to me that we have a long way to go to fully understand the natural processes that are climate forcings, teleconnections, and the effects of changes. Changing anyone's standard of living based on a "Gee, maybe" is absurd.


What's this? Some common sense? Atmo, this doesn't belong here! Please, take that crap somewhere else, k? Thanks!
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Quoting hurricaneseason2006:


Thanks, last question. Any idea about the 2010 hurricane season. Karl, a local met here said is not looking good for next year. Any thoughts?


Holly future forecasting batman... That met must have the new experimental 12-month GFS model working. My local weatherman can't tell me whether it is going to rain or not tomorrow (accurately) and your met thinks s/he can tell how active next season is going to be...

If s/he is that good, have him/her tell me next weeks lotto numbers.

Also, Dr. Gray called and wants your mets name and number...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
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.
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Quoting hurricaneseason2006:


Thanks, last question. Any idea about the 2010 hurricane season. Karl, a local met here said is not looking good for next year. Any thoughts?


Back in March of this year, the NINO forecasts was calling for slight El Nino so I wasn't too optimistic about this year, especially the pattern that was being observed over Africa (that's why we been having some weak tropical waves). But the NINO forecasts this time around is calling for neutral conditions for 2010. I would wait for next Spring to get more reliable forecasts and the state of El Nino then but if it does verify and all other conditions seem favorable, then next year could be active. More than 80% of hurricane seasons succeeding El Nino years are usually active. But it all depends on how much, when and how fast El Nino weakens.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting TampaSpin:
Will likely become a SubTropical Storm in 2 days IMO....Convection is starting to Wrap....This is a MidLevel Low coming to the Surface.....it has good 850mb Vorticity already

I agree completly...as well as this wave that merged off of Africa is looking good because of thye large amount of convection.
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Quoting hurricaneseason2006:


Thanks, last question. Any idea about the 2010 hurricane season. Karl, a local met here said is not looking good for next year. Any thoughts?


Don't mean to step on 456's question, but i believe by this time next year we will be back in a LaNina position or possibly Nuetral. That usually does not spell well if that is the case.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
Quoting WeatherStudent:


Oyeme, como logras poner la linea por ensima de la N? Porque yo no se hacerlo.


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 -

Coño 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.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
is cono spanish for conus?...lol
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Dak...you're grounded, pal...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting WeatherStudent:


You're right, TS! My apologies. But at least give me a hint, pretty please??? :(



YES! That now makes me a WishCaster......Thanks WS!.....LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
437. JLPR
Quoting Dakster:


coño...


that word is a no-no xD
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Quoting Dakster:
I guess I better not comment on the relatively quiet tropical hurricane season we have been having...



You just screwed us all for doom.......LOL
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
The trough headed towards the EC on Sunday/Monday should turn that system south of Bermuda out to sea.
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Quoting IKE:


I just had about a half an inch of rain here in the Florida panhandle. I was thinking it might be FredEX's remnants and right after it started the Fed Ex truck stopped by to make a delivery and that confirmed by suspicions.

ROFL
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Quoting WeatherStudent:


Any potential SF threaters by then, TS? For the very last time, before the season wraps up.


I refuse to answer with such a wishcaster answer..........LMAO......Come on WS! You already know that answer without asking such a hate to say it but, "A STUPID QUESTION"!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
I guess I better not comment on the relatively quiet tropical hurricane season we have been having...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
Dell at least that is just a statement and not a warning though.


10-4 on that. A 6 something scale quake under water could raise awareness. It must be pretty deep.
Member Since: May 31, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 208
Quoting WeatherStudent:


Perturbado, ?.


coño...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
426. IKE
Quoting 954FtLCane:
OK, I'm waiting for the FredEx talk to begin now that the GW talk is done....
So what is the latest on FredEx... anyone?
lol... I need to laugh please wishcasters.... give me something I can 'reed'


I just had about a half an inch of rain here in the Florida panhandle. I was thinking it might be FredEX's remnants and right after it started the Fed Ex truck stopped by to make a delivery and that confirmed by suspicions.
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Dakster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting Dakster:
TampaSpin - So it would be safe to say that nothing out there is a threat to CONUS, in your opinion?



Nope nothing for the next 7 days.....MJO is coming in about 10days! In 10 days could be some of our most busy of the season. The cold front that is coming down has a chance of something to form on the Tail end just about the time of MJO! Season is not done with the Local bread systems that will be coming in 10 days if condtions (SHEAR) are favaorable....which has not been the case 99% of the year.

Need to watch the GOM and Caribbean during that time.
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
you had to say something Dak didn't u -_-
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Dak!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting 954FtLCane:
OK, I'm waiting for the FredEx talk to begin now that the GW talk is done....
So what is the latest on FredEx... anyone?
lol... I need to laugh please wishcasters.... give me something I can 'reed'


Fred-ex is gone. But it did leave a legacy, a very interesting, funny and alot of lessons were learned :)
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
For the bermuda feature, ascat supports a surface L also.

50km

25km
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This is looking very subtropical to me, looks like transformation could already be underway.

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Sorry presslord...
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Quoting hurricaneseason2006:


Wow, you are correct. Do you expect development here and with the CV wave?


Both areas has the potential but the CV wave seems to be the one taking advantage of that potential. However, this feature (CV wave) will have to battle some dry air and shear to its north and west.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
TampaSpin - So it would be safe to say that nothing out there is a threat to CONUS, in your opinion?
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
OK, I'm waiting for the FredEx talk to begin now that the GW talk is done....
So what is the latest on FredEx... anyone?
lol... I need to laugh please wishcasters.... give me something I can 'reed'
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exactly
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
From my blog

AOI#1 is likely to become a SubTropical system over the next 72hrs. Don't know that it will get a name but, it will not be a threat to the ConUs! It is a MidLevel spin that is showing some sign of Tropical Development. It does have Vorticity at 850mb and showing some Convergence and Divergence. Shear is actually low in its immediate area but, is surrounded by much higher shear in all directions. This has a low chance of becoming a SubTropical Storm in 72hrs with no worries to the ConUs as it moves out to sea!

Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20443
409. Murko
Quoting atmoaggie:

For example, it has been rather reasonably stated that GW would increase frequency and intensity of El Ninos. Other researchers also state that GW will increase the frequency and intensity if TCs in the Atlantic. Anyone here will tell you that both, simultaneously, is simply impossible


Of course, I bow to your superior knowledge, as I am a weather noob, by just for argument's sake, is it possible that you could have a higher frequency of el ninos, which would give us a lower than average of number of TCs during those years (say -2 for 5/10 years), but with higher sea temps there could be far higher than average TCs in non el nino years (say +3 for 5/10 years)? The average over ten years could be that there are more TCs than the old average (5 extra in this case).
Member Since: July 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 155
Hehe... Sorry about that...

I guess in my line of work that is like saying "Wow, its been really slow tonight..."
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10480
Quoting Weather456:
TS Nora



That looks like Chris in 2006. The center of circulation is moving westward away from the deep convection. Also the feature south of Bermuda is gaining deep convection and looks very interesting, very Subtropicalish.
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Dak...there's a strong belief out here on the islands that you can "conjure" someone up by speaking of them...so...shush....
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492

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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.