Saturday, December 19, 2009
Is Hindsight 20/20 in the 11th Hour?
Released in 2007 and written/produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, the 11th Hour is essentially a follow-up to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.
Like An Inconvenient Truth, the 11th Hour focuses mostly on fear-mongering, trotting out the same old litany of environmental abuses (many of them entirely valid) in order to terrify viewers into supporting the agenda of climate change lobbyists.
Amidst the apocalyptic fear-mongering, Leonardo DiCaprio offers a surprisingly intriguing thesis: that what his film insists is an impending environmental armageddon is actually an unintended consequence of the design humankind planned for the future ever since the human mind perceived the notion of the future.
The Eleventh Hour begs the question of, had humankind had 20/20 foresight at any point in its history, would we have done anything differently?
The obvious answer to this question is yes. If humankind could have together avoided the Cold War or the two World Wars, one would have to imagine it would.
But as it pertains to the environment, one has to imagine that humankind would like numerous missteps back as well. As DiCaprio notes, many environmental catastrophes are not isolated incidents, but very much consequences of how things were done by design.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred as an unexpected consequence of oil producers preferring the speed and comparative low cost of transporting oil via tanker ships to the safety of a pipeline. Even pipelines can be subject to unexpected sabotage when they are run above ground and left vulnerable.
Even in terms of human ecology humankind likely would have rethought the use of materials such as asbestos or lead-based paint if humankind had only been blessed with 20/20 foresight -- consider it something of a "special sense" like David Suzuki speaks of.
Of course humankind has not been blessed with 20/20 foresight. In fact, humankind would be fortunate if its foresight was even 50/50.
A more prescient question is whether or not humankind has -- or can even be expected to have -- 20/20 hindsight on the eve of a predicted environmental apocalypse.
Even deeper questions linger about the extent to which the predicted apocalypse is being exaggerated. Such luminaries of the environmental movement as Al Gore have admitted that many of the claims in his Inconvenient Truth were exaggerated beyond whatever truths (however inconvenient) they could impart.
More recently, the Climategate emails leaked from East Anglia University's Hadley Climate Research Unit have demonstrated that not only have supporters of the man-made climate change hypothesis tailored the peer review process for their own benefit, but have also suppressed their own private doubts about the conclusiveness of their own science.
An illuminating comment comes from David Orr, who peddles the "tipping point" theory (not even the most clever bit of fear mongering devised by this crowd) and notes that humankind is "losing control of the climate".
The problem, of course, is that humanity has never controlled the climate. Such an act is literally incomprehensible.
But the truth of the film seems to be that these particular individuals aren't simply interesting in controlling climate, they're interested in controlling culture.
Many of the commentators in The 11th Hour raise the same old predictable left-wing complaints, and treat the fight against climate change as the means by which they'll culturally transform the world.
In other words, many of these commentators seem to be treating climate change as a weapon in a cultural war.
The ultimate solution, the film's talking heads insist, is to "fundamentally redesign the basis of human design".
This really isn't such a bad idea. But given the film's premise, these people also have to wake up to the reality that if human foresight needs to be fundamentally challenged, people have every right to ask these individuals if their specific vision for the future is the right one for humankind to follow.