The age of stupid

The age of stupid

The Age of Stupid is a film that will either change you or remind you why you bothered in the first place. Sometimes we need a kickstart to climb out of the doldrums and back into a state of empowered action. And with the Copenhagen climate change talks coming up, there’s never been a better time to get involved…

The Age of Stupid is an eco-docudrama by green activist and film-maker Franny Armstrong. (She also directed McLibel, a no-budget film which took over 10 years to make and whose strapline was “The postman and gardener who took on McDonald’s. And won.”)

If you consider yourself an activist, going to see The Age of Stupid in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate-change talks is probably a good idea. This drama, stars the wonderfully raw-boned Pete Postlethwaite as the last man alive in 2055, The film stars Pete Postlethwaite as the last man alive in 2055, looking at the mistakes of a generation using video archives. So it is a fictional drama – but it’s cut with present-day footage of floods, fires, melting ice caps and news stories regarding the oil crisis in the Alps, Nigeria, New Orleans and Iraq.

Climate change consultant on the movie, Mark Lynas, says: “The film begins with images of a surge of water in London and the Sydney Opera House surrounded by flames – which, given what has been on TV recently, is hardly unrealistic.

“After finishing the film we heard news stories of the Australian bush fires. It seemed like the future was arriving quicker than anyone could have projected.

“Although bush fires are a natural occurrence the reason they were so extreme is because they began after the hottest temperatures ever recorded in that part of south Australia.

“So they are in some way linked to climate change. Now all the projections show the fire season is going to be more extreme and longer-lasting in the years to come.”

He says: “What this film shows is well within the range of mainstream scientific forecast.

“We are talking about 2055, by which time we could have seen 2°C or more of warming.

“This is certainly enough to have very dramatic effects on the entire planet.

“The Greenland ice sheet would melt entirely at a sustained period of temperature rise above 2°C.

“That is without considering things like tipping points – which might come when we no longer have an Amazon rainforest or when southern Europe is no longer inhabitable because of high temperatures.

“In different parts of the world there could be many different impacts but lots of areas could be rendered unliveable with just a degree or two of warming from now.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made the projection in 2001 of between 1.4 and 5.8°C rise by the end of the century.

“The film is set 46 years in the future, so while we are on a slightly accelerated track for The Age Of Stupid, it puts it within the limits of what we might expect.

“Of course, we could have chosen the year 2300 – but most people would have simply said, ‘Who cares?’.”

The Age of Stupid does have facts behind it, but it’s not a BBC documentary – it tugs at your heart and is more of an emotional call to action, asking the question “Why didn’t we stop global warming when we had the chance?”

This is probably a good question to ask. Especially with the Copenhagen talks coming up. Sometimes you know the facts but need to remind yourself of the injustice and stupidity of it all on a more emotional gut-level – so you can feel angry and active all over again, rather than descending into apathy again because feeling cross with idiots all the time is just so exhausting.

Even if you’re not a vegan, don’t subscribe to Friends of the Earth, and encourage everyone you know to drive an SUV, you still care about yourself and everyone you know (unless you encourage everyone you know to drive an SUV). OK, so we spend a lot of time thinking our lives are hard, there are still rights we all share as human beings, kitties, lettuces and monkeys – and those are the rights to have wholesome food, clean water and fresh air.

Those rights are being taken away from us.

You can’t eat money. You can’t drink oil. You can’t breathe greed or regret.

So, go watch this film and remind yourself. Even that is an active stance – support grass-roots eco film-making, and the trend towards making films that ask uncomfortable questions will continue. The Age of Stupid is showing across VUE cinemas in England, and keep a special eye out for it, wherever you live.

Then google ‘Copenhagen Direct Action’ and find out how you can get more involved.

Maybe it’s not yet strictly necessary to start flushing your toilet with your bathwater – but there are still so many things you can do to help yourself and others keep air, water and food fit for purppose – and yes, we are getting to a point where that will matter more to you than anything else. So go watch a movie – then, please, get involved.