05 August 2012
The 11th Hour
The 11th hour (2007) is a documentary produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, directed by Leila and Nadia Conners. The film interviews many independent environmental experts about climate change, what the causes are, what can be done and why humans are so slow to react. An early quote from Stephen Schneider sets the scene, “As we destroy nature, we will be destroyed in the process.” Several of the experts state that the human brain is the key to our survival, stating that humans are the only species able to think of the future.
The somewhat typical binary of human-vs-nature is an underlying rubric to the argument flow of the documentary narrative, subverting the arguments of economic rationalism with quantitative research attesting the finite nature of Earth's resources. Conners' argument asserts that change began with the industrial revolution and the lessening of sunlight to survive, going on to explore our dependency on fossil fuels and an increasing dependency on globalised mass farming.
The documentary rings home with all the radical changes in climate such as the floods, droughts, extreme hurricanes, highest average temperatures on record. A worst-case scenario for the future as stated by Stephen Hawking is that earth could become like its sister planet Venus, where the temperature is 250˚C and it rains sulphuric acid.
The earth is being radically changed in a short period of time, and our appetite for consumer goods that rely heavily on natural resources continues to grow. We are essentially poisoning the planet. The argument is compounded with, typically for infotainment, one of hope. We have a chance to fix this. We need to reconnect with nature. We have existing technologies to create green buildings and to retro fit pre 1950’s buildings that could reduce our carbon footprint by 90%. We need to redesign design. We need to change the thinking of products from cradle to grave, to cradle to cradle. In nature there is no waste. We need to have a passion for where you live.
Documentaries like this serve perhaps as the exact type of passive project, ambitious of some mythical kind of proto-stimulation in the field that they criticise in their argument - basically a lot of rich people made this as a feel good product - placing the importance of human agency squarely on a working class who will probably never see this documentary.
99.9999% of species are extinct. Humans can become part of that statistic. The earth will survive. Will we still be on it?