Sunday, September 02, 2007

"The 11th Hour"

Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, "The 11th Hour" is a courageous film about the imminent destruction of our planet through climate change. One thing I appreciated is that the level of understanding assumed by DiCaprio was relatively higher than Al Gore's film. So the oft-seen sequence about how greenhouses gases are being trapped in our atmosphere was only explained once and very quickly. The rest of the film was full of great ideas, and several that I'd like to explore more in further blogs. For example, saving the world through mycelium. A mycologist from Washington State shared his ideas about the health and environmental benefits of mushrooms. The architectural ideas of the film were outstanding, and on The 11th Hour website you can learn more about buildings that are biomimicked to behave like a tree or a microhabitat.
I have to make a political comment, however. Like most of what happens to the liberal agenda, the response to this film from the conservative audience is in the spotlight now. The conservative audience has seemed to find its way into the centerstage, amazingly. A conservative critic on IMDB noted that the film is an outrageous piece of the liberal "culture of fear". He says fear is the motivating factor in films like this.

To respond to this statement, it would make sense that he would need to first demonstrate that global climate change is nothing to be feared in the first place. However, let's cast that aside for the moment and consider whether the film is motivational only by means of fear, and we will find this to be misleading. I noticed several ways the film was motivational:

1) By giving the audience a view into a "green lifestyle" that we will want to live.

2) By demonstrating that climate change is a real possibility and we should act to stop it now out of a) fear b) compassion c) interest in solving problems.

By not wanting to disappoint future generations if it is catastrophic. Also known as inter-generational tyranny.

By showing us that everyone has their own niche in solving climate change issues. Filmmakers have a duty, senators have a duty, architects have a duty, engineers have a duty, business leaders have a duty.

There are attitudes this film is trying to legitimize (like all films) and I think the most important factor is the healthy and sustainable lifestyle option. And I think that's why most people become environmentalists. It's not mostly out of fear. It's mostly out of a deep conviction that this crisis is real and that there's an attractive lifestyle alternative which they can and want to be a part of.

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