Observations on “The Age of Stupid”

On Thursday, September 22, 2011, I viewed the movie, The Age of Stupid, at the Dragonfly Theater in Port Orchard. The movie was sponsored by Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido. About 20 people attended. A $5 donation was suggested.

This movie was pure progressive propaganda, reminiscent of Leni Riefenstahl.

The setting was the year 2055, after the earth had been devastated by global warming because humans had been too stupid to cut their carbon emissions by 90%. Various themes ran through the movie.

In the film, a lone curator of a global archive museum, containing all the collected history of the world in 2055, brought up the stories of several people in the decade of 2000 – 2010.

One was an elderly guide who conducted tours of a glacier in Europe. This story was designed to show how the impact of global warming was already wreaking havoc on a large glacier. It also showed the proliferation of vehicle traffic on a nearby road that entered a mountain tunnel. A family in this scene told how they were restructuring their lives to minimize their carbon footprint – and that everyone needed to do this is the earth were to survive.

Another was an Indian entrepreneur who was starting up a low cost airline. This story was designed to show how jet aircraft are a major polluter, but that even people who want to do the right thing for the planet are seduced by their commercial self-interests.

Another was a wind farm advocate who tried to get a permit to install wind turbines on land he owned in England – only to be thwarted by his neighbors and the local government. This story was designed to show how wind power is absolutely essential to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions – and that people are too stupid to realize this.

Another was a young lady in Nigeria who wanted to become a doctor. This story was designed to show that big oil is the enemy. Her town had been destroyed and people killed in a raid by the government, who was acting on behalf of Shell Oil to get people off the land that Shell Oil wanted. It showed how the percentage of oil extraction profits that was supposed to be given to the people for things like hospitals had instead been kept by a corrupt government – and that the people were kept poor and the land and the sea were polluted by the oil company.

Another was a young boy in Iraq whose father had been killed by American soldiers. He wanted to grow up and kill Americans. This story was designed to show that American foreign policy is in collusion with (actually being run by) big oil and that people around the world are being killed in wars so that the oil can be kept flowing.

Another was an oil company employee who lived in New Orleans. This story was designed to show how abnormal weather events like Hurricane Katrina, that destroyed peoples property and livelihood, would not have happened if big oil companies had not fed the world’s appetite for oil – creating all the excessive CO2 greenhouse gas.

The theme that capitalism and consumerism are bad for the earth ran throughout the movie. (It reminded me of the video The Story of Stuff that is being shown to our school children.

A scientist said that the predicted 2055 outcome was unavoidable unless drastic action was taken immediately.

A proposed solution was global governance that would control how much carbon each country can emit. This amount would be steadily reduced over the next two decades. The U.S. would be forced to undergo the largest reductions, with Europe next. Countries like India would actually be allowed to increase their emissions – with the goal of making everyone equal in the end.

At the end of the movie, Commissioner Garrido held a short discussion period. She talked about how the county had a successful energy minimization program and that the next movie would be about the importance of local farming – something she is passionate about.

All the people who spoke (except me) were strongly convinced that the primary theme of the movie, that unconstrained commercialism and the continued burning of hydrocarbons, would lead to unacceptable, unsustainable conditions on earth. They asked how we could get the message out. A young shipyard employee said he had studied the science and the danger was real. He was now using solar panels for his electricity and had reduced his carbon footprint to a very small value.

I suggested that the science was not so clear. I produced charts derived from NOAA data that showed the temperature in the Pacific Northwest and in North America had been declining for a decade (someone challenged me saying that just wasn’t true).

I said that there had been some new scientific breakthroughs that suggested earth’s temperature was more correlated with solar activity than CO2. That Heinrich Svensmark of Denmark has theorized that solar activity affected the sun and earth’s magnetic fields, which in turn affected the amount of cosmic rays entering the atmosphere and seeding clouds. I said that a team of scientists at the CERN facility in Europe had recently demonstrated this in a cloud chamber and that their results had been reported in magazines such as the Economist.

I said that another scientist, Roy Spencer, had examined satellite data and published an article showing that more heat escaped the atmosphere than predicted by the current climate change models – showing they were wrong and that the heating they predicted was wrong. The young shipyard employee said that this science had been disproven. I questioned how this was possible, given that this science was new. He didn’t have an answer.

I told Commissioner Garrido that I would love to have a debate on this film. That I disagreed with it philosophically, technically, economically, and morally – and that I could present strong arguments for each. Obviously there wasn’t time or inclination to take me up on this offer.

My bottom line is that the County is doing its citizens an absolute injustice by providing only one side of this story. The County should be asked to sponsor a film that presents the other side.

Bob Benze, Environmental Engineer
Kitsap Alliance Board Member

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2 responses to “Observations on “The Age of Stupid”

  1. You have the facts on your side Bob. Keep hammering the environmentalists even though hard heads just cause the hammer to bounce. At least it’s a bruise.

  2. I am shocked that anyone came to this movie at all. Thank you for going to talk about the other view. Just maybe someone in that group listened to you.

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