Posted by: Jack | October 15, 2007

The 11th Hour

I wasn’t going to make a point of seeing this movie but with some free passes for the Capitol Theater to use up before leaving Olympia, I figured I might as well. I’m generally not a supporter of celebrities who assume that their status of being famous implies that their opinions on global issues are of greater significance, but thankfully this movie came across more as a celebrity (Leonardo DiCaprio) using his stardom as a means of delivering an important message to a large audience.

The movie started out kind of rough with far too many fraction-of-a-second clips of things that are not going so well with our planet’s environment. Side-note: One of these scenes was a super close-up shot of a knife going through what appeared to be a large portion of beef. Say what you will about the beef industry and consumption of meat but don’t expect the world to turn vegetarian. Anyway, on top of those rapid clips was a series of commentaries by authorities of various fields. Too much of this makes it hard to retain interest, especially when it’s a bunch of people explaining all the bad things that humans, and more specifically Americans, are doing to the environment.

But, just when I was getting worried that this movie was going to be a big downer — in my opinion, a terrible way of reaching people — it pulled a sharp u-turn and did exactly what I had originally hoped for. Side-note again: I don’t claim to be among the first to discover a truth about environmentalism but I do feel that I’m among the minority in having accepted said truth. That is that despite all the catch phrases such as, “Save the <insert animal or ecosystem>”, or, “Save the Planet”, the true intent of environmentalism, save for a few angry extremists, is the chauvinistic goal of saving our own species. Despite all our technological advancement, we couldn’t “kill” the Earth if we tried. We could wipe out a majority of species, including our own, with a world wide detonation of all nuclear weapons but as for the Earth and organic life, everything would recover in a mere moment on a planetary time scale. That said, the movie started addressing the truths about why we should want to make changes in how we are affecting our environment. And I believe the film’s greatest strength was in it’s promotion of readily available technologies that can be utilized to greatly improve our future while having little or no negative effect, and in many cases a positive effect, upon our current life styles.

7 out of 10 for general quality as a movie.

9 out of 10 for making an effort to improve my future.

One thing I’d like to mention: I’ve heard this fact before but near the end of the movie someone said that 99.9999% of all species of life that have ever existed on Earth are now extinct. While humans are not “special” in the way that big religion would like us to think, we are unique in that we have the ability to foresee and alter certain factors which may lead to our extinction. If we want to beat the astronomical odds favoring our extinction, it seems to me that we ought to be making the most of every advantage we have. And maybe a good start would be teaching current and future generations that extinction in the ascertainable future is not only plausible, but is in fact, probable.


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