AC, Baile Átha Cliath
Planet of The Humans is available to watch at the bottom of this piece, for free, in full, until the end of May.
‘A gift to Big Oil’, claims Vox’s Leah C. Stokes. Documentary filmmaker Josh Fox had the film temporarily removed from sites with the help of a twitter mob, ‘a blatant affront to science’ claimed his open letter. The creators “have done a grave disservice to us and the planet” cried Penn State climatologist, Michael E. Mann, who soon after compared Michael Moore to Donald Trump and Putin. Dozens more from every publication imaginable have published their own criticism, or have one in the pipeline I’m sure. However, what many of the elitist moaning forgets is that you can actually criticise something, with the goal of it improving.
It’s clear that between an intense obsession with Cancel Culture and America’s attempts at politicising every and any scientific fact (see the Dem v Rep Covid-19 debates), there is no preferred method to debate the status quo, so why not go all out and make a documentary which, yes, may get some things wrong, may use dated facts and that may mis-portray those involved – find me a documentary that doesn’t. At it’s core, Planet of The Humans, directed by Jeff Biggs and produced by Michael Moore, calls out career activists, writers, twitter celebrities, green capitalists, politicians and the very economic structure they actively refuse to address.
1. The Contradictions of ‘Renewable Energy’
The results of battles hard fought for are put under the spotlight as Director, Jeff Biggs, highlights the amount of polluting concrete or precious metals needed, usually stolen from the southern hemisphere, to make wind farms, solar panels or the technology needed to operate the likes of electric cars. There’s few things more enjoyable than watching General Motors’ board members and public relations reps squirm when, at the launch of their new electric car, Biggs asks ‘where does the power come from being used to charge the car’?
2. We’ve Always Had the Ability to Make Emergency Changes
The argument around making slow and sensible changes to how our society operates, so as to not upset the status quo, has been rightfully thrown out the window as pandemic lockdowns across the capitalist world has shown that not only can we make these drastic changes, and live to tell the tale, but that socialist countries seem to be doing a better job with it too! We won’t be bowing to the threats of the free market holding back action on the climate emergency any more. Planet of the Humans couldn’t have arrived at a more crucial time and their decission to air it for free online makes it a post-lockdown call-to-arms.
3. Bursts the Tech Solution Bubble
For many, salvation came in the form of an eventual technological breakthrough that would save us from ourselves. Biofuel and Ethanol were often the promises that helped us sleep at night. Biggs doesn’t hold back while going after the media obsession with these unrealistic distractions and the oil-drenched money bank rolling our supposed salvation.
4. Talks About Capitalism
It’s a bit like Fight Club, you’re not really supposed to talk about it. If you dare, expect advertisers to pull their spending, cease & desist letters in the mail and a religious/right-wing mob to come after you – that’s usually how anti-capitalist organisations or publications are forced to operate. Which is why most climate publications and writers rarely bring it up.
‘This evil economic system we have is based on greed’, Michale Moore told The Hill TV in a recent interview. Green Parties the world over refuse to recognise this fact, Irish Greens just voted against a motion to identify as anti-capitalist; “Capitalism is incompatible with the survival of the majority of the life of the planet.”
The doc does an amazing job at highlighting how those profiting from the green movement, may not have the environment at heart. The Koch brothers overseeing renewable energy systems, after they spent years trying to cover up climate change, may also not be a great idea. It’s a needed reminder that there is no eco-friendly solution provided by billionaires and banks, profit comes before all else.
Any education of capitalism is progress, any recognition of our economic system is a step in the right direction. However, even the director makes the mistakes of throwing adjectives in front of capitalism, as if it comes in all different flavours and shades depending on who’s wearing it, as if we just need to find a nicer version.
& 1 Reason I’m Furious
Confusing Economics with Population Size / Individual Consumption
“It is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism”
It’s was frustrating to see the detailed criticism of groups like The Sierra Club, who I’ve written about before, be halted in its place as Gibbs attempts to repackage the same myth the Sierra Club has been pushing since it’s foundation – population size is an issue.
‘We’re not in favour of population control’ said Gibbs in the Hill TV interview, but then quotes a UN study and asks ‘would the UN be in favour of population control’? Yes, they have been for decades and even the film made it clear that the UN isn’t a bastion of justice and wisdom on this topic, given their nefarious relationships with other organisations. He denied any Malthusian beliefs, but continued to celebrate a pandemic and 9/11 as having a positive impact on the environment.
Like Mark Fisher points out, “Capitalist realism as I understand it cannot be confined to art or to the quasi-propagandistic way in which advertising functions. It is more like a pervasive atmosphere, conditioning not only the production of culture but also the regulation of work and education, and acting as a kind of invisible barrier constraining thought and action.” It seems even with all the criticism of the economic structure of capitalism, Gibbs was unable to think beyond it at points and came to similar conclusions as racist Malthusian theories, eugenic groups and the likes of the Sierra Club.
Gibbs came to a handful of these strange conclusions, along with blaming individual actions or coming to terms with our mortality, as somehow having anything significant to do with climate change, or what the cause is. Even when you watch it, you’ll notice how out of place these ideas are slotted in, but you shouldn’t let it take away from the enjoyment of what is a rip-roaring 100 minute long session of going after green capitalism with all the sarcasm and wit you’d expect from Michael Moore. If Vox thinks the film is ‘sowing confusion and doubt’, maybe that’s exactly what we need.
Vandana Shiva (the Indian women interviewed in the doc) has a range of books connecting ecology and the environment with capitalist power. Here she is going after Bill Gates’ ‘bio-piracy’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNM833K22LM
Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism
The Earth System and the capitalist system are incompatible
Josh Fox Open Letter
Climate experts call for ‘dangerous’ Michael Moore film to be taken down