Have you seen the movie Planet Of The Humans yet? It has been viewed 3 million times since it debuted just before Earth Day last week. Directed by Jeff Gibbs and produced by Michael Moore, the film is showing free for 30 days on YouTube. The 30-second trailer for the film is below.
To be clear, I have not watched the video, not having an hour and 40 minutes available in my busy day to watch something that trashes people I hold in high esteem like Bill McKibben and Al Gore. The knock on Gore is that he has made money from devoting his life to crisscrossing the world to warn people and their leaders about global warming. Apparently the only people who are allowed to prosper in this world are Rex Tillerson, Dick Cheney, and other purveyors of fossil fuels. It also takes McKibben to task for supporting the burning of wood chips a decade ago, an idea he has since abandoned.
Environmental Groups As Corporate Shills
Writing in Vox, Leah Stokes, an assistant professor at the University of California Santa Barbara and frequent writer on environmental issues, says
There are critiques that can be made of environmental NGOs. But the way activists are portrayed in this film is inaccurate. One of the film’s main theses is that the climate movement is captured by corporations. As Gibbs puts it, environmentalists are “leading us off the cliff.”
The evidence for this assertion? The Union of Concerned Scientists’ support for electric vehicles. And Sierra Club’s promotion of solar. And the fact that 350.org has received funding from environmental foundations. I fail to see how any of these facts are problematic.
The most egregious attack is made against Bill McKibben, a dedicated and kind environmental leader. As he has said, he has never taken any money for his environmental activism with 350.org. Watching this film, you might mistake him for a robber baron. McKibben wrote to the filmmakers, to clarify his views. They did not write back. As he put it: “That seems like bad journalism, and bad faith.”
One of the main themes of the movie is that the climate crisis is attributable to too many people competing for scarce resources. While the size of the Earth’s human population is of concern, the film never once draws attention to the perfidy of fossil fuel companies and electric utilities over the past several decades as they raked in record profits while lying through their teeth about the impact of their business activities on the environment.
Outdated Information & Electric Cars
The movie also quotes prices for solar power installations and conversion factors that are over a decade out of date. The worst sin of all for CleanTechnica readers is that the movie pumps air into the pernicious myth that electric cars are just as dirty as conventional cars because some electricity comes from burning coal. For that reason alone it deserves nothing but scorn.
The Guardian reports the environmental community has reacted with fury at the film. Josh Fox, who made the documentary Gasland, has written a letter signed by various scientists and activists urging the film be removed from the internet because it is “shockingly misleading and absurd” and “trades in debunked fossil fuel industry talking points” that question the affordability and reliability of solar and wind energy.
Climate scientist Michael Mann was one of the people who signed the letter. He tells The Guardian the film includes “various distortions, half-truths and lies” and that the filmmakers “have done a grave disservice to us and the planet by promoting climate change inactivist tropes and talking points.”
Bill McKibben says, “I am used to ceaseless harassment and attack from the fossil fuel industry, and I’ve done my best to ignore a lifetime of death threats from rightwing extremists. It does hurt more to be attacked by others who think of themselves as environmentalists.”
There are few people who can say they have done more to bring the issue of an overheating climate to the attention of the world than McKibben, the founder of 350.org, who has been jailed on many occasions for his implacable opposition to the burning of fossil fuels.
The Unkindest Cut
It’s impossible to know what axe Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore have to grind by making this film. If nothing else, it gives ammunition to the Heartland Institute and Fox News crowd who are always happy to find new ways to bash environmentalists.
Thatt’s not to say renewable energy has not had its stops and starts and gone down a blind alley or two. But to say the green energy advocates are in bed with the Corporate America, particularly the fossil fuel industry, seems a bit of a stretch and suggests little more than a deliberate disinformation campaign. Moore and Gibbs really need to explain why they have elected to make such a bad faith attack and why now.
If you have watched the film, please share your reaction to it with us in the comments section below.
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