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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405. presslord
10:05 PM GMT on September 24, 2009
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: 10479
404. MisterJohnny
10:04 PM GMT on September 24, 2009
Did anyone mention that today is the fourth anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Rita?
403. Cavin Rawlins
10:04 PM GMT on September 24, 2009
Quoting hurricaneseason2006:
Good afternoon W456. Yesterday afternoon and this morning in your update, you mentioned that a surface low may eventually form south of Bermuda. Has that materialised?


Yes

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
402. 8feetat15secs
10:04 PM GMT on September 24, 2009
Quoting HurakanPR:
Weather in this part of the island is very nice morning heavy rain and thunder storms every afternoon, nights usually clear. Nice Restaurants everywhere,,if you want to find typical puertorican food, go inland, beautiful sight seen and wonderful rain Forests, Specially world famous "EL YUNQUE".


Lolita's in Luquillo near "El Yunque" rainforest. fresh Rita's and, well, mexican food in PR!
401. HurakanPR
10:03 PM GMT on September 24, 2009
Quoting smmcdavid:
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.
Yes, you can even find some liberals there ! Amazing !......
Quoting presslord:
it would have been so much classier to just leave...rather than take shots at people while heralding one's departure...


Speaking of classy people, where's WS these days?
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10034
399. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Dell at least that is just a statement and not a warning though.
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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

Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

Atmo!
You missed most of the insanity, so you don't qualify. There was a Texas delegation; where were you? Your rational voice was sorely missed.

Several of us did try to maintain a peaceful coexistence but evidently to no avail! Orca's leaving...and I have abandonment issues, dang.

Have a great evening, Later, I am going to lurk while watching junk tv, have a Yankee beer (Yuengling, yea!), and lick my wounds.

Love Yuengling. The oldest brewery in America? My personal favorite lager.
I get them at the Navy PX at Stennis.
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3 AOI with Tropical Update
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
TS Nora

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
Quoting KerryInNOLA:
I suspect we will not see any US landfalling hurricanes this year and NO GOM hurricanes. We all love this year. Any differing opinions? Nope


An uplift in MJO is coming in about 10 days. The GOM and Caribbean will become active if shear will not be strong......These next 3 weeks could be the most active of the entire season. Give it 10 days from now then ask!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Quoting TampaSpin:
A large Earthquake hit near the Coast of Mexico




Glad to see no Tsunami warning issued.

TSUNAMI INFORMATION STATEMENT NUMBER 1
NWS PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER EWA BEACH HI
929 PM HST WED SEP 23 2009

TO - CIVIL DEFENSE IN THE STATE OF HAWAII

SUBJECT - TSUNAMI INFORMATION

THIS STATEMENT IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. NO ACTION REQUIRED.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

ORIGIN TIME - 0916 PM HST 23 SEP 2009
COORDINATES - 19.1 NORTH 107.3 WEST
LOCATION - OFF COAST OF JALISCO MEXICO
MAGNITUDE - 6.7 MOMENT

EVALUATION

BASED ON ALL AVAILABLE DATA A DESTRUCTIVE PACIFIC-WIDE TSUNAMI IS NOT EXPECTED AND THERE IS NO TSUNAMI THREAT TO HAWAII. REPEAT. A
DESTRUCTIVE PACIFIC-WIDE TSUNAMI IS NOT EXPECTED AND THERE IS NO TSUNAMI THREAT TO HAWAII.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY STATEMENT ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS
ADDITIONAL DATA ARE RECEIVED.
Member Since: May 31, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 189
Quoting JupiterFL:
To anyone in Puerto Rico:

I am leaving for San Juan on Sunday. Will be there until Wednesday for work.

How has the weather been recently?

I am staying at the Marriot San Juan Resort and Stellaris. Where is a good restaurant around there?

TIA
Weather in this part of the island is very nice morning heavy rain and thunder storms every afternoon, nights usually clear. Nice Restaurants everywhere,,if you want to find typical puertorican food, go inland, beautiful sight seen and wonderful rain Forests, Specially world famous "EL YUNQUE".
386. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Philippines Atmospherical Geophysical Astronomical Services and Administration

Tropical Depression "ONDOY" has maintained its strength as it moves in the general direction of Central and Northern Luzon.

Tropical Cyclone Bulletin #3
=======================
At 5:00 a.m PhST, Tropical Depression Ondoy located at 15.0ºN 126.7ºE or 440 kms east southeast of Casiguran, Aurora has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots.

Signal Warnings

Signal Warning #1 (30-60 km/h)
=============================

Luzon region
1.Aurora
2.Isabela
3.Quezon
4.Polilio Islands
5.Camarines Norte
6.Camarines Sur
7.Catanduanes

Additional Information
========================
This disturbance is expected to enhance the Southwest Monsoon and bring occasional rains over Southern Luzon and Visayas. Residents in low lying areas and near mountain slopes are advised to take all the necessary precautionary measures against possible flashfloods and landslides.

The public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 11 A.M. today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
A large Earthquake hit near the Coast of Mexico

Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
Alright, I'm off to dinner, hoping to enjoy some steak (: have a good evening all of you, see you soon.

-Matt
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Rulf? Am I one of the loonies, now? I have been trying to fit in somewhere...


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Quoting atmoaggie:

Rulf? Am I one of the loonies, now? I have been trying to fit in somewhere...

Atmo!
You missed most of the insanity, so you don't qualify. There was a Texas delegation; where were you? Your rational voice was sorely missed.

Several of us did try to maintain a peaceful coexistence but evidently to no avail! Orca's leaving...and I have abandonment issues, dang.

Have a great evening, Later, I am going to lurk while watching junk tv, have a Yankee beer (Yuengling, yea!), and lick my wounds.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Orcasystems:
I have read the blog from post #1 until now...
What can you say... both groups.. or better yet.. all 4 of them have made their points...and at times very pointedly.

The blog appears to have lost its perspective today, the thought of rational agreement/disagreement or dialogue left many many posts ago.

Have a good day... I am off the main blog until a new one is posted.

You guys win, the loonies have control of the main blog... have fun.

Rulf? Am I one of the loonies, now? I have been trying to fit in somewhere...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Gee, a somewhat laughable spread in the track forecast for Nora. I don't blame anyone for following a general GFDL/HWRF track given this guidance.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I have read the blog from post #1 until now...
What can you say... both groups.. or better yet.. all 4 of them have made their points...and at times very pointedly.

The blog appears to have lost its perspective today, the thought of rational agreement/disagreement or dialogue left many many posts ago.

Have a good day... I am off the main blog until a new one is posted.

You guys win, the loonies have control of the main blog... have fun.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
374. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical Depression "Ondoy"
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting presslord:
Global Warming Solution = Nuclear Winter


True... Or a large Volcanic Eruption... But I think the Nucelar winter right now has a greater chance of happening.

BTW - On my way to send a box of clothes and diapers out to you for Portlight.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10034
Quoting gator23:
OK seriously I am done here. This is a weather blog not a religion blog.
I dont have a religion I didnt come here to hear or talk about religion and I certanily think that if there is a god he is probably to busy to be worried about the dumb things we humans do. But since I am leaving i am going to say a few thigns that have urked me over the last 3 years.
1.Texas is a piece of [snip] and the people from Texas on this blog just reinforce my notion that they are all dumb republican hicks. Seriously guys you thought Bush was a good idea?
2.Katrina Cryers, yes it was terrible yes it sucked but man if you didnt evacuate you failed yourself the levees didnt fail you
3.The conservative element on this blog that talks about how the government sucks and even going as far as to say that scientific research is unconstitutional are crazy. i swear that the entire element of the Rush Limbaugh audience is ont his blog. [snip] him [snip] Glenn Beck they are morons
4.Tornadodude is a nice guy and I like him alot he is always trying to be helpful and i dont think he gets the recognition.
5.dont ban me as i am deactivating my account after this.
6. I am sorry for the flame here on this blog but I am tired of the conservative/religious element on this blog being able to say whatever they want and if you disagree you get the WORLD of hate, but i shouldnt expect any less because this used to be a place of opinions and know it sucks
7.this blog gives the south a bad name.

wow, I didn't realize we were on this blog to insult people and what state they live in.... Last I checked,this was a weather blog....

Apparently it makes some people feel better to put others down....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
370. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
National Hurricane Center
Tropical Cyclone Warning #8
TROPICAL CYCLONE NORA (EP172009)
21:00 PM UTC September 24 2009
=================================

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Nora (1002 hPa) located at 17.5N 120.8W or 700 NM west-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California Peninsula has sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west-northwest at 7 knots.

Gale-Force Winds
================
45 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
====================
12 HRS: 17.4N 121.7W - 40 knots (Tropical Storm)
24 HRS: 17.3N 123.1W - 35 knots (Tropical Storm)
48 HRS: 17.6N 126.2W - 25 knots (Low Pressure Area)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Murko:


Yes, but they didn't have evidence to back them up. I understand what you're saying, I'm an atheist, but these days we have evidence to back up and form opinion.

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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting gator23:
OK seriously I am done here. This is a weather blog not a religion blog.
I dont have a religion I didnt come here to hear or talk about religion and I certanily think that if there is a god he is probably to busy to be worried about the dumb things we humans do. But since I am leaving i am going to say a few thigns that have urked me over the last 3 years.
1.Texas is a piece of [snip] and the people from Texas on this blog just reinforce my notion that they are all dumb republican hicks. Seriously guys you thought Bush was a good idea?
2.Katrina Cryers, yes it was terrible yes it sucked but man if you didnt evacuate you failed yourself the levees didnt fail you
3.The conservative element on this blog that talks about how the government sucks and even going as far as to say that scientific research is unconstitutional are crazy. i swear that the entire element of the Rush Limbaugh audience is ont his blog. [snip] him [snip] Glenn Beck they are morons
4.Tornadodude is a nice guy and I like him alot he is always trying to be helpful and i dont think he gets the recognition.
5.dont ban me as i am deactivating my account after this.
6. I am sorry for the flame here on this blog but I am tired of the conservative/religious element on this blog being able to say whatever they want and if you disagree you get the WORLD of hate, but i shouldnt expect any less because this used to be a place of opinions and know it sucks
7.this blog gives the south a bad name.



Gotta love it.....Wow and your a Gator! Gator's can usually think while Typing? What the heck happened to you!
Member Since: September 2, 2007 Posts: 178 Comments: 20439
366. beell
It's too late, the media is in control. We're doomed...

The Top 100 Effects of Global Warming
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Quoting Murko:


Well, I do agree on that!


well there we go then haha

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363. Murko
Quoting tornadodude:


haha im not :P but we all have different opinions, and the least we can do is to respect their views, and try to politely debate differing ideas


Well, I do agree on that!
Member Since: July 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 155
Quoting Orcasystems:


You had to say it... now they will argue about the carbon foot print of the missiles and aircraft engines... and the vapour trails...


:O
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Quoting presslord:
Global Warming Solution = Nuclear Winter


You had to say it... now they will argue about the carbon foot print of the missiles and aircraft engines... and the vapour trails...
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Someone was asking about the MJO and there was talk earlier about a spike or possible approach, well the tracking isn't bringing it yet. And the forecasts, for what they are worth (little!) call for it to stay in an inhibiting phase for the next 15 days.

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Quoting Murko:


Not if you're agreeing with the 90% who thought the sun went round the earth, lol. Some things are just too obviously wrong.


haha im not :P but we all have different opinions, and the least we can do is to respect their views, and try to politely debate differing ideas
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358. Murko
Quoting tornadodude:


well how bout this, let's agree to disagree? ok?


Not if you're agreeing with the 90% who thought the sun went round the earth, lol. Some things are just too obviously wrong.
Member Since: July 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 155
Global Warming Solution = Nuclear Winter
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
Quoting sarahjola:

i live in louisiana, and i can tell you that we are losing land because we are built on marsh. baton rouge isn't losing land the lower region is. there is nothing you can do about it. the lower region is sinking because we chose to build our homes, and businesses on marsh land. not caused by seas rising, but wet lands trying to become what they once were. we altered the land. i can tell you how to fix that. move! get out the marsh. simple.

One more addendum to that: One river cannot sustain more than one delta. St Bernard parish is all old MS river delta and has been eroding for at least 1000 years.
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Blog Update
Reflector site for those at work, includes Dr. Masters & Weather456, daily update.


AOI

AOI

AOI

AOI

For anyone who is looking at the weather... that Blob off Africa, and the next one look interesting :)
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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.