Watched AGE OF STUPID – now what?

Last night I went to see AGE OF STUPID at the Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre. The screening was organised by the local group of SLOW FOOD UK and there was delicious home-made popcorn and pizza!

popcorn

The film was better than I expected. (So was the cinema experience in the Oak Room!) I braced myself for tedious reels of news footage, but not much new.

In fact the film’s a strong documentary. In parts it is rather basic – but that covers the ‘beginners’ who might be new to the whole environmental movement, why the rush to act on climate change, what the problems are with oil, how addicted we are to it (try spotting an object in your house that was not produced using fossil fuels) and why consumerism is shit. The film makes connections that might not be obvious.

During the movie you meet several characters. Real people. A man who survived Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and lost all his belongings. An ancient mountain guide shows us his local glacier, which is shrinking. A British family actually sit down and plan their individual carbon budgets for the year! Children who fled from the oil war in Iraq try to make a new life in Jordan. A young woman in Africa struggles to better her life in an area ruined by a big oil company, yet finds the best money-making opportunity for her is in diesel smuggling!

Sometimes THE AGE OF STUPID has busy graphic animations but overall the use of imagery is very clever. Here are a few of my favourite bits:

  • A doll lies in the mud after Hurricane Katrina and stares at you. She’s wrecked and lost after a violent storm, which they say is going to become more common in future as sea temperature rises. The mouth is moulded open ready for a feeding bottle. She’s built for consumption, she’s made from oil and she’s a role model.
  • A woman has caught 2 small fish from her local lake where the wildlife has been decimated by the effects of the nearby oil base. Her fish are covered in oil so she uses detergent to wash them. Afterwards they shine but you know they aren’t clean inside.
  • You follow a man through his house, his conservatory, and into a summer house in the garden. No science lab university location, no fancy computer graphics. He’s a man in a shed drawing a graph on a piece of paper for you. He says, “if you remember just one number, make it this: 2 degrees.” Beyond 2 degrees the climate change effects self-multiply because of methane and CO2 released by warmed tundra and forests. His pen traces a line that peaks in 2015. The graph has to be going down by 2015. We have 5 years to push it in that direction.

Seen the film, recycled the t-shirt?

After watching AGE OF STUPID it’s probably polite to hold an open discussion. It distracts the audience from their sense of imminent doom!

ecocinemaClare Marriage from the local Slow Food convivium did a good job of stimulating discussion and drawing a few questions from the people in the room. Up on the stage with her were Lawrence Woodard OBE from the Organic Research Centre and Peter Kindersley of Sheepdrove.

Peter started by saying that we’ve got to grow more vegetables and concentrate less on grain. He said we shouldn’t subsidise grain any more, we should subsidise small-scale vegetable plots. He took the line that it’s too late to stop the accelerate rate of Climate Change. But still said we must take action. // Personally I agree – if we are bound to see a massive change it’s all the more important to act sooner, and take bigger steps.

Lawrence pressed the need to take direct action, and cited protest as the only example shown to massively shift goverment policy in a short time. Doing your bit is good, but it’s not enough.

I knew many people in the room and I was sure most of us were already doing all sorts of things at lifestyle-level to shrink our ‘footprint’ on the planet. But people still asked, “What can we do?” They wanted to do more.

Suz from HEAT told us the AGE OF STUPID film has kicked off the 10:10 campaign which aims to unite everyone in the UK to cut 10% of their Carbon Footprint by the end of 2010. Role models include the Todhunter family who have already reduced their CO2 emissions by 28.4% in the past three years – and said it’s not difficult.

Somebody in the audience said “People need to know what they can do. On Radio 4 they have Thought for the Day, and it’s usually religious, but what about the urgency of Climate Change? It should be top of the agenda. What if they had something like that, but for the environment?”

Petition Radio 4 with me!

So at the end I cheekily asked to say a couple of things:

1) I invited everyone to join a pro-wind-turbine protest march. Sheepdrove Organic Farm would soon be grateful of their support when they enter a planning application for wind energy.

2) I said I’d start the campaign for a Green Thought for the Day programme. Sheepdrove’s petition letter is already on the Sheepdrove blog. Please add your name!

Where to watch it…

Watch the film trailer at www.ageofstupid.net/video/trailer and check that website for more dates and locations.

By the way, the next showing of AGE OF STUPID near me is on 18th September, at 7.30pm at the Croft Hall, Hungerford. Tickets £4 from The Hungerford Bookshop or from Suz on 01488 680642.

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