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Are We Living in “The Age of Stupid?” (Documentary Review)

The word “stupid” is one that I shy away from due to it being judgmental, emotionally charged, and insensitive to the mentally handicapped. However, this documentary, The Age of Stupid, makes a compelling case for how things are not being done to mitigate climate disruption, and how things are not being done to support the renewable energy sector, that can be seen in toto as being nothing other than stupid.

Screen shot from The Age of Stupid, documentary

Pete Postlethwaite stars in the film. The film is set in 2055, where Pete’s character does a retrospective looking back on our current period of time to investigate what went wrong to cause climate disruption, which has by then caused the veritable extinction of humans. He does this by using: film clips of real events that are happening in our contemporary times that look at consumerism and energy use; through the experiences of several people who live in different countries; and commentary.

Questions Raised by the Film

The film asks some good rhetorical questions. It asks:

“Why were 100 railways in cities like New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles bought up and then deliberately destroyed?”

“Why did the electric car get scrapped” (in the mid-1990s) while showing a picture of the EV1.

“Why were we [meaning the US], along with Australia, the only two countries not to sign the original Kyoto Climate Treaty?”

“Why was the same PR firm employed by the tobacco industry to persuade the public that smoking is healthy, then employed by the oil industry to convince us that there is still doubt about climate change?”

“Alternative [meaning renewable] energy has been available for 50 years. Why have we barely used it?”

“Why were solar panels taken off the White House?”

Then the film endeavors to answer these questions. While its claims seem true enough to me, more documentation would have bolstered its case.

Screen Shot from The Age of Stupid, documentary

Featured Protagonists’ Stories

The five people featured in interwoven threads in the documentary live in India, France, Nigeria, the US, and England. The Indian man comes from a wealthy family who starts an airline to help the poor travel more comfortably by plane instead of on crowded trains. The Frenchman is a Mount Chamonix guide and farmer who lives near the Chamonix tunnel to Italy and is upset at all of the trucks passing his farm on unnecessary journeys. The Nigerian woman lives in poverty in a corrupt oil-rich country “where most of the population lives on less than one dollar a day” and she would like to become a doctor. The American is a retired oil worker who lives in New Orleans and whose home is devastated in Hurricane Katrina where he stays behind instead of following evacuation orders. He ends up rescuing people in his little boat. The Brit is a wind energy worker who puts together wind farm projects and is running up against a NIMBY (not in my backyard) crowd (and I won’t spoil it for you by informing you of the interesting outcome).

Worth Viewing

This documentary is worth viewing for people interested in the environment and the future of the planet. It’s well done, flows well and doesn’t drag, has a great message, and isn’t preachy. There are some interesting parts such as when the Brit and his wife analyze the amount of pollution caused by flying to France for a holiday and decide to not take the flight.


The closing section is good, though there is no strong call to action, which their website makes up for to some extent. I won’t tell you who coins the phrase, “The age of ignorance… the age of stupid.” You have to watch it yourself for that.

As usual, all comments welcome.

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