By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES – As environmentalists celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this week, a new documentary poses a sobering question.
What if wind farms, solar panels and other green energy projects are not enough to save the planet and humanity simply cannot sustain life as we know it?
“Planet of the Humans,” executive produced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore and written and directed by Jeff Gibbs, asks hard questions about what it sees as the failure of well-meaning efforts to halt climate change.
“It seems like we have been losing the battle,” Moore told Reuters. “We are in deep, deep trouble.”
“Planet of the Humans,” available on YouTube free of charge to the public, argues that the mainstream environmental movement has sold out to corporate interests and that solar and wind energy components and electric cars rely too heavily on deforestation and electricity generated from coal and natural gas to produce them.
“What we have been calling green, renewable energy and industrial civilization are one and the same thing – desperate measures not to save the planet but to save our way of life,” Gibbs says in the film.
A better approach, Gibbs suggests, would be people having fewer children. “Infinite growth on a finite planet is suicide,” he says.
The multi-year film project includes interviews with scientists, industrialists and environmental activists, visits to wind farms, solar installations and biomass plants, and an in-depth look at the companies that collaborate and invest in green energy initiatives.
Moore said that he, like many people, thought electric cars were a good idea, “but I didn’t really think about where is the electricity coming from?”
“I assumed solar panels would last for ever. I didn’t know what went into the making of them,” Moore added, referring to raw materials, including quartz, and the fossil fuels needed to manufacture the panels.
Moore and Gibbs acknowledge the film is bleak in parts but said they hope it will stimulate discussion. Both men will take part in a live Q&A on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“The film doesn’t have all the answers but it challenges us to think differently,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs and Moore said the mass shutdowns and plummeting air travel that have been one impact from the coronavirus have shown how swiftly the planet could benefit from a change.
The economic standstill could cause carbon dioxide emissions to fall this year by the largest amount since World War Two, the chair of the Global Carbon Project said earlier this month.
“The fact that within days animals are coming back and the skies are blue tells us that we don’t have to build a million square miles of solar panels or buy a zillion electric cars. If we just slow down and stop we can make a tremendous difference instantly,” said Gibbs.
“I think this is a good chance, this 50th (Earth Day)anniversary, to think through who we are, what we’ve become as an environmental movement, and where we should be going next,” he said.