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UN Climate Change Report: A Choice between “Mad Max and Hunger Games”

UN Climate Change Report: A Choice between “Mad Max and Hunger Games”

Humanity, we’re essentially told, is doomed lest people concede their freedom to the experts, lawmakers, and bureaucrats who can save us.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this week released a special report detailing all the ways climate change is predicted to wreak havoc on humans.

The report is about 800 pages long, so I’ll offer a summary to save you some time:

  • Global temperatures today are 1.0°C above pre-industrial temperatures.
  • We’re seeing an increase in extreme weather and other negative consequences as a result of the increase, including receding sea ice in the Arctic and rising global sea levels.
  • A 1.5°C increase will be (much) worse than a 1.0 increase; 2°C would be much worse than that.
  • We’re currently on track to exceed 3°C.
  • Only broad and drastic changes in the world economy can prevent global calamity.

The report’s glum findings were announced at a press conference by a United Nations panel in Incheon, South Korea. Panelists tried to sound optimistic, but there was no sugar-coating the report’s key finding.

“If you would like to stabilize global warming to 1.5°C, the key message is that net CO2 emissions at the global scale must reach zero by 2050,” said panelist Valerie Masson-Delmotte, a French climate scientist and research director at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission. “That’s the most important finding of the report.”

Barring these substantial reductions, we’re told, millions will die. Literally.

The report made it clear that fossils fuel—oil, gas, and coal—which the world heavily depends on, must be phased out to achieve this goal: especially coal.

“Coal will have to be reduced very, very substantially by the middle of the century,” said Jim Skea, a Scottish academic and IPCC panelist. “Coal has the highest carbon content of all the fossil fuels.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The future isn’t what it used to be

The future isn’t what it used to be

Two recent films couldn’t be more at odds in their vision of the future. Mad Max: Fury Road is the long-awaited continuation of the Mad Max movie series. The movie is essentially a relentless chase scene set in a world burned to desert by climate change and bereft of civilization which has long since vanished in a haze of war and resource shortages.

(Spoiler alert: In this piece I discuss many events at the end of each film. For Mad Max fans this should make no difference in their enjoyment of the long and injurious chase scenes that are the meat of the film. I do not see how the confusing concatenation of nonsequiters that make up Tomorrowland could be ruined by my commentary. But, those who want to see the film without knowing the end should read no further–until they return from a showing.)

In Disney’s Tomorrowland something’s gone wrong in the mysterious Platonic dimension of forms called Tomorrowland which communicates with and influences the real world of today. Hugh Laurie plays the ruler of Tomorrowland. He laments that he has been sending messages to the real world for years about all the stupid things people are doing: wasting resources, changing the climate, polluting the planet, engaging in senseless wars. But almost no one seems to be listening. For those few who are, all they do is talk about the negative without offering any solutions.

By now–meaning present-day global society–we were supposed to have gleaming, clean, clockwork cities everywhere–with flying cars, of course. So, where did we go wrong?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…



“Mad Max: Fury Road” Is a Resource-Conscious Blockbuster for Our Time

“Mad Max: Fury Road” Is a Resource-Conscious Blockbuster for Our Time

Who ruined Mad Max’s world? The new film isn’t afraid to lay blame — and suggest a way forward.

When the first Mad Max was released back in 1979, the era’s reigning existential threats were nuclear winter and, to a lesser extent, peak oil. Set in a not-too-distant dystopian future and against the harsh backdrop of rural Australia, viewers’ ability to map their own fears onto the screen was crucial to that film’s success.

The film doesn’t just rebuke the greedy.

Although the fears have changed, you could say the same thing about Mad Max: Fury Road, the series’ long-awaited fourth installment. Released this month in the midst of California’s historic drought and increasingly bleak studies about the likelihood of catastrophic climate change, the film plays more on viewers’ anxieties about a carbon bomb than a nuclear one.

Director George Miller’s pitched focus on resources reflects today’s embattled context to a tee. Mad Max is not only a rollicking, white-knuckle action flick on spiked 6-foot wheels. It also carries an important and all-too-timely message, shouted defiantly by no less than an aged, graffiti-scrawling woman wielding a shotgun: “You cannot own a human being!” nor the planet on which they live.

Miller’s eponymous antihero, Max Rockantansky (Tom Hardy), inhabits a parched dystopia created by dual resource crises. Invoking political strategist James Carville, the movie’s opening-by-way-of-background announces, “It’s the oil, stupid,” briefing viewers on the water wars, oil shortage, and subsequent state suppression that jolted humanity into chaos. As the world’s supplies of fossil fuels and water dwindle, its citizens are reduced to a single instinct: survival.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…



Yesterday’s Tomorrowland

Yesterday’s Tomorrowland

America takes pause on a big holiday weekend requiring little in the way of real devotions beyond the barbeque deck with two profoundly stupid movie entertainments that epitomize our estrangement from the troubles of the present day.

First there’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which depicts the collapse of civilization as a monster car rally. They managed to get it exactly wrong. The present is the monster car show. Houston. Los Angeles. New Jersey, Beijing, Mumbai, etc. In the future, there will be no cars, gasoline-powered, electric, driverless, or otherwise. Mad Max: Fury Road is actually a perverse exercise in nostalgia, as if we’re going to miss being a nation of savages in the driver’s seat, acting out an endless and pointless competition for our little place on the highway.

The other holiday blockbuster is Disney’s Tomorrowland, another exercise in nostalgia for the present, where the idealized human life is a matrix of phone apps, robots, and holograms. Of course, anybody who had been to Disneyland back in the day remembers the old Tomorrowland installation, which eventually had to be dismantled because its vision of the future had become such a joke — starting with the idea that the human project’s most pressing task was space travel. Now, at this late date, the monster Disney corporation — a truly evil empire — sees that more money can be winkled out of the sore-beset public by persuading them that techno-utopia is at hand, if only we click our heels hard enough.

Another theme running through both films is the idea that girls can be what boys used to be, that it’s “their turn” to be masters-of-the-universe, that men are past their sell-by date and only exist to defile and humiliate females.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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