The Age of Stupid - Premiere 15th March 2009


New! Fine Art Prints & digital images for sale-
Welsh Weather & Dyfi Valley landscapes Slide-Library - Click HERE

"The question I’ve been asking is, why didn’t we save ourselves when we had the chance?"

The Age of Stupid is a 90-minute film about climate change, set in the future, which will have its world premiere in London on March 15th 2009 and then be released in UK cinemas on March 20th 2009, followed by other countries. Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, Brassed Off) stars as a man living alone in the devasted world of 2055, looking back at "archive" footage from 2007 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

I was fortunate to see a sneak preview of this film last summer, and I would recommend it to anybody. It juxtaposes various goings-on in today's world with the "future-shock" scenario of 2055 in a remarkably powerful and effective way. This is in marked contrast to "An Inconvenient Truth" - perhaps the most shocking aspect of this film is how everyday the several 2007 storylines appear to be. That is the amazing thing - we have come to accept, as everyday and routine, activities which are so wantonly, thoughtlessly destructive.

I look at my lifestyle sometimes and wonder how I can reduce my non-renewable carbon-based energy usage. I try to minimalise private car usage - it's pretty much restricted to photography trips these days and many a week has gone by in recent months without it moving from its parking-space. I heat my home with logs and don't mind wearing an extra padded shirt if it's really cold, or even sleeping fully clothed if it's absolutely freezing. I eat less meat than I used to. My dependance on these non-renewables is still too great though.

It is an appropriate week in which to premiere such a film, although I doubt that, despite their obviously exceptional talents, Franny and crew managed to bring this about on purpose! A week in which it has emerged that ongoing climate developments in various parts of the world have made the last IPCC review appear overly conservative in nature. A week in which warnings have been given that unless we change our ways we shall see climate-related problems that will cause the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.

The UK may well, as recently suggested by James Lovelock, be relatively unaffected by the changes - apart from the minor detail of the relocation of people living in low-lying areas (like many of our cities) to new homes built higher above sea-level (and hopefully not on major river flood-plains though perhaps that is a little ambitious). A warmer North Polar region could well lead to a decrease in baroclinicity across the North Atlantic, so that severe Autumn and Winter storms are less frequent: on the other side of the coin, more heat and moisture during the summer months would, under given conditions (e.g. Biscay lows) lead to a greater frequency of devastating flash-floods. But, because we live on an island on the eastern side of a major ocean, over which the majority of our weather originates, it is unlikely that we will see the UK as a desert, in 2055 or 2155.

That is not the point. The "crunch" occurs when more drastic changes elsewhere on the planet lead to the destruction of great swathes that are today perfectly habitable. Yesterday, I had a drink with a friend just back from Africa. He spoke of a farm operated by one of his friends, in Zambia, where the topsoil is 18 metres deep (a benefit of, unlike the UK, not having been glaciated at any time in the last 200 million years). In the upper part of my veg garden I have to make do with 18cm! But such soils will only continue to produce if rainfall, in appropriate amounts, continues to moisten them. If climate change leads to large areas of land becoming unproductive, due to drought or to sea-level rise, that's where the problem will get really serious. You end up with an awful lot of displaced people. Where will they go?

"You'd see hundreds of millions, probably billions of people who would have to move and we know that would cause conflict, so we would see a very extended period of conflict around the world, decades or centuries as hundreds of millions of people move."  Lord Stern, 12th March 2009.

And, hand-in-hand with that we have ocean acidification, caused by the dissolution of excess carbon dioxide. Aragonite is a polymorph of calcium carbonate - calcite is the other. Aragonite has quite a restricted stability field - it exists stably in weakly alkaline conditions and seawater, typically at a pH of 8.2, is ideal. That's why bivalves and some planktonic organisms make their shells from aragonite: acidify the sea even to neutral and the very material their shells are made from becomes unstable. Result: mass-exctinction in the seas.

Whether climate models predict that some of this occurs by 2055 or 2155 is academic: the important fact is that we can prevent it occurring. We can pull back from the brink of disaster.

And if, like me, you have become depressed by the realtime stupidity of climate change deniers, do what I have done recently. Switch off your computer, go out there and grow your own veg. It is creative, gets you fit and puts you back in touch with the Earth - our only home. Work with it, not against it!

If seeing the Age of Stupid leaves you feeling deeply shocked and wanting to make changes in the way you live, then it has done its job.

The Age of Stupid - poster


New! Fine Art Prints & digital images for sale-
Welsh Weather & Dyfi Valley landscapes Slide-Library - Click