Home > Environment, World Issues > The Age of Stupid?

The Age of Stupid?

The Age of StupidI don’t always consider myself the most prudent environmentalist. I sometimes throw things out and don’t recycle them – and I definitely still use anti-bacterial hand gel even though I know it is full of chemicals. Swine flu is serious, people!

The thing I do know is that every day I am conscious of our planet and the issues it faces. This has to do, yes, with the fact that I work at an environmental nonprofit. But it also has to do with the fact that I seek this information out. I want to know how bad things are, and how I can fix them.

In the spring, I took a course at NYU with my husband called The Global Natural Resource Crisis. An older man taught it – who had made a ton of money the bad way – the oil way. He reached retirement, and realize that he had been ignoring the perils of his work for a long time. He retrofitted his house in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey to be “green” and has taught this class for the last 5 years.

In it, he taught us a lot about peak oil, and statistics and where to find them, but mostly he allowed us to fight with each other. There were always those 2 people that took the class in order to just argue with us climate change believers and see where they got. Usually they got nowhere. This was a liberal class in Greenwich Village, New York.

Since then, many books have gotten more and more popular on this issue, and a variety of shows, movies, and even entire channels have been devoted to sustainability. As we approach the December climate talks in Copenhagen, I have been thinking if these people are talking – or if they are just reality show actors.

Last night we watched a movie called The Age of Stupid. The Times review has a lot of interesting things to say about the film, which shows an archivist going through video footage in 2055 of our current life, and the things happening to the planet – and essentially, how we ignored them. He has thus dubbed this time an “Age of Stupid” because we saw so many things happening, and it took 40 more years of turmoil before the planet finally acknowledged the inherent risk.

I actually really liked the film, but the review brings up some interesting points. Mainly, it brings up the idea that if we are bombarded with depressing information (no clean water in Africa where Shell pumps oil, glaciers melting in the Alps, a commercial airline in India primed to spread even more fossil fuel across an exploding population) we may not do anything. We may be paralyzed by this depression, and feel it is too late.

I definitely feel that way sometimes. The world’s problems are too big and I am too small. But instead I actually found the movie one of the most effective films I have seen thus far about the issue. This is mainly because it was documentary – with a little bit of flair that movies can give a problem.

We can all decide to freak out, or we can do something – we can act.

Categories: Environment, World Issues
  1. November 14, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    If you liked this movie, you’ve got to do yourself a favor and watch the movie “Home”! The link is posted on http://www.whiteearth.org
    And you’re right, it is NEVER too late to act.
    What is the name of this older man living in Englewood, NJ?
    I used to live in Montvale, NJ just a stone throw from Englewood…
    What do you do exactly in the non-profit end of things?
    I am looking for volunteers to help with WhiteEarth.org.
    Well, let me know your thoughts.

    • bethoc
      November 16, 2009 at 1:02 pm

      Your org looks great. Definitely an interesting perspective on climate change. I do fundraising and grant writing. Email me at beth.oppenheim@gmail.com if you want to chat more about options for collaboration.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. December 4, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I am slowly beginning to act. In high school, I was spoiled. I had a friend who was into doing all sorts of activism, and she always invited me. I got to college and the only thing I do now is harass those I’m willing with about recycling. I find my biggest hurdle is my lack of specific knowledge. I knew stuff was up, so I went with my friend cause I felt it was up. In college, I didn’t act on stuff cause I didn’t have enough information to make me think, “Man, I’ve gotta do something about this.” Once I get a little information in me, the fire is lit! So that’s something I have to work at: going out and finding information on not just environmental issues, but issues in general.

    Have this movie saved in Netflix!

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