The article “Skepticism is healthy, but Planet of the Humans is toxic“, by Timmon Wallis, has generated debate in our organization. We are posting this article to present an opposite perspective – Ed.
by Michael Donnelly. First published in Counterpunch
“It’s all got to change. If we come out of this crisis with all the rickety, fly-blown, worm-eaten old structures still intact, the same vain and indolent public schoolboys in charge, the same hedge fund managers stuffing their overloaded pockets with greasy fingers, our descendants will not forgive us. Nor should they. We must burn out the old corruption and establish a better way of living together.”
~ Philip Pullman, author of “His Dark Materials.”
The wildly, uniquely popular, documentary “Planet of the Humans” has been viewed over 2 million times in less that four days – likely 100s of thousands more by the time you read this.
Highly-compensated, thoroughly-compromised Climate warriors (and “renewable” energy entrepreneurs) who have nothing but pie-in-the-sky “renewable” energy myths to show for 13 years and hundreds of millions of dollars spent, respond to the documentary – certainly not to the damning facts presented by someone finally pointing out their ineptness and ties to bad actors and weak Democrats – but with Trumpian level denials and personal attacks. No wonder Fossil Fuel use is at all-time highs and rising and we are at 420 parts per million (ppm) Carbon in the atmosphere which is also rising and has never dropped* after all their useless efforts.”
(*COVID-19 Response has lowered Carbon ppm in a couple months. The Climate Movement has never attained any drop in ppm since 350’s 2007 founding!)
Let’s get this out of the way right off. Yes, I know all the principals in the creating of this Documentary. We all have ties to our hometown of Flint. Michael Moore’s very first Eco-documentary was one on the massive pollution in our hometown that he did at age 15! Director Jeff Gibbs is one of my best friends. Ozzie Zenher is an engineer who has written extensively on the topic. His fine book is “Green Illusions.” I support their work. I think them all good-hearted, caring geniuses.
I also have installed six solar systems. They work well off-grid. I have also helped maintain two small hydroelectric plants. One creates 40kW, the other 13kW. I have installed and operated a Ram Pump. I have built solar showers. I know a decent amount about non-fossil-fuel technology.
I start with this disclaimer, because if I did not, for sure, what I have to say would just be added to the many bogus – desperate really – disses of POTH coming out of Green Central HQ. How what I have to say will easily be ignored or attacked on the grounds of my friendships, rather than on the facts.
Activist High Priest Malpractice
Let’s go right to the case and look at some of these bogus dismissals. How is this for Informed Discussion?:
1) The Guardian gave the movie a Four Star Review. Decent, but somehow it took the film to task for NOT taking Greta Thunberg to task – for crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat with a back-up diesel generator? – which I wasn’t even aware was part of the old guard’s anti-Greta rubbish. Gaia forbid!
“All the green, liberal A-listers – Bill McKibben, Al Gore, Van Jones, Robert F Kennedy Jr – are attacked in this film as a pompous and complacent high-priest caste of the environmental movement, who are shilling for a fossil fuel industry that has sneakily taken them over. (Although it should be said that, for all his radical bravado, Gibbs does not dare criticise Thunberg.)”
The film attacks no one. It asked these “top environmentalists” questions and they were given plenty of film time to answer them. McKibben has three speaking appearances. What they are complaining about now is similar to Trump saying he never said what he said…on film!
Clearly, Thunberg has to look out for being co-opted by the careerist “greens.” I think she is on to them. She is at best breath of fresh air to come along in a long time. Why would Gibbs bother her? An ally?
2) the film is denounced as calling for “Population Control” in many reviews and posts. One Review by something calling themself “Vote To Survive” wrote this contradictory statement:
“At the heart of Planet of the Humans is the basic premise that humans cannot continue a path of infinite “growth” on a finite planet. That much is indisputable. But what does it mean? Does it mean that all industrialization is bad? Does it mean that replacing fossil fuels with an all-electric economy fueled by wind and sun is not achievable or not desirable? Does it mean that there is no solution to global warming, apart from killing off a large part of the world’s population?”
No. The only way to use less fossil fuels is to use less fossil fuels, not reconstitute them as “renewable.” The only way to consume less resources is to consume less resources. There is no way wind and sun can equal the amount of current power use, much lees the huge increases predicted.
The reality is that without drastically lowering overall consumption, it actually WILL “kill off a large part of the world’s population.”
3) So now, Censorship from the left is OK?
Filmmaker Josh Fox has started a chain letter demanding Michael Moore apologize. He notes one left film distributor Films for Action has pulled the film. He does not note that it is on YouTube for free for 30 days and has been viewed over 2 million times. He, Jeff and Ozzie deciding to release it for free on YouTube on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day is brilliant, though costly to them. It is so disheartening that every successive Earth Day, the Life Support System is more at risk. It is sobering to ask some questions why, given the wide Public support for conservations measures.;
4) Tom Anthanasiou wrote one called “Planet of the Humans is Crap.” He admits to just one fact – sleazy Solar Energy festivals that claim to run on Solar, but actually run on diesel generators (hard to refute the actual footage). But from there he just pimps “renewables” and rants against/insults the producers by name and weirdly lays most of his contempt on Richard Heinberg, even falsely claiming Heinberg was behind it all!
David Helvarg posted Athanasiou’s rant with this comment:
“I just wasted an hour and a half of my life watching a bogus takedown of renewable energy and the environmental movement only because Michael Moore is pushing it. Here’s my friend Tom Athanasiou’s critique. I’d only add that if all the bullshit in this film were converted to actual biomass it could power a major city.”
Compare that to true Gaian ecologist Derrick Jensen’s sagacious comment when he posted it: “i just watched this yesterday. it’s really fantastic. it’s biocentric, and what we need to help return environmentalism back to being about saving wild nature and not about trying to power the industrial economy a bit longer. The end left me sobbing.” (Head’s up: the ending leaves everyone sobbing – the entire crowd at the Premiere last July was sobbing before breaking into a multi-muinute Standing Ovation!);
5) Josh Fox even called for POTH’s removal from the Internet and did get that small outfit called Films for Action to drop it, after Michael Moore graced them with the opportunity to post it! Yet another “left” attempt at enforcing a status quo No-Talk Rule! It will remain on YouTube for free viewing for 26 more days;
6) I can’t even comment much on the vicious balderdash Michael Mann has put out. But, by far the top gaslighting is being done by 350 founder Bill McKibben.
What a pack of self-serving crap! McKibben was given three speaking opportunities in the film.
Does McKibben think people will watch his own statements in the film and ignore his dismissive, snidely pro-biomass comments and his weaseling about his funding from the Rockefellers, as if it did not happen? Denying your own on-film words is downright Trumpian.
Has the situation gotten any better since McKibben launched 350? Has the CO2 content in the atmosphere declined? It is up over 420 PPM now, will take decades if not centuries to get down to the crucial 350ppm. Sheesh! That is Misleadership writ large as it could be!
The wildest untruth is claiming that the filmmakers also supported Biomass when he did. The filmmakers never supported Biomass. No idea where he gets that. Jeff Gibbs was one of first on the front lines of Biomass opposition over a decade ago – some of the same compromised “greens” took him to task over it from the beginning! That certainly amped up his interest in doing the film.
Not to mention, the film does not “hide in the credits” that these organizations oppose Biomass officially now. The credits stuff points out these groups’ continued support FOR Biomass AFTER they publicly said they did not!! It’s akin to the Sierra Club saying they oppose Public Forest liquidation while approving Forest Timber Sales, as long as they go by a different name – “Forest Health” or “Fuels Reduction” thinning or some other clever stump-creation euphemism. Stump-creation is the end result of every Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management forestry scheme no matter what it is officially called! Who do you think benefits most from Biomass? Big Timber, of course. The Koch Brothers, owners of Georgia-Pacific Timber specifically. NOTE: the Koch Brothers are also the top recipients of solar energy tax subsidies, as well.
McKibben did not “oppose” Nature-consuming Biomass until after his encounter with Director Jeff Gibbs in 2015 – same as with the Sierra club’s change of heart on Biomass. During most of Obamatime, when Biomass took off with full Administration support and subsidies, they supported it. McKibben supported Biomass because that is what the funders would fund and the corporate Democrats wanted. Period. Real Eco-science never entered into it. The Biomass Plant that he “saluted” and got much acclaim for at Middlebury is still open, consuming over 20,000 tons of ground-up trees annually from a 75-mile radius around the college. That’s 3 truck loads of forest habitat per day! He has never called for its shut-down!
While he may never have taken any salary for his misleadership as 350 Co-Founder/Board Chair, McKibben has made huge money selling books based off Climate. I’ll go so far as to say that Bill McKibben has done nothing that has had any real impact at all on stopping Carbon Pollution. His vaunted Divestment claptrap also achieved nothing as far as less fossil fuel use. All that did was change who a fraction of the fossil fuel companies’ shareholders are.
His silence on the pro-fossil fuel Democrats (especially Obama’s pimping fracking, making the US the top fossil fuel producer in the world!). His silence on all the other problematic issues with “renewables” that the documentary raise is also very telling.
I had an email exchange with McKibben starting in 2012. It started out just fine, we even agreed on the pitfall of what he called relying on “the insiders and the honchos.”
In 2013, Bill wrote a postmortem on the failed Cap’n Trade bill, where he concluded “If the inside-the-Beltway groups had been able to turn to a real grassroots activist movement, the outcome might have been different.” I praised him for that, though he, and the Big Greens clearly have no idea how to achieve a legit grassroots movement. AstroTurf is their turf.
But when I brought up the need for 350 et al. to make drastically lowering consumption a critical part of their main effort, McKibben was dismissive, as he had more important Divestment, empire-building stuff to do. He responded: “ok work on that part. i’m working–literally–as many hours as i have in a waking day on the divestment stuff right now. we’ve got 210 campuses up and running which is…a lot of kids with interesting questions.”
I don’t see McKibben as some evil guy. Ambitious, with a savior complex? Sure. Though, I am coming around to what some see as him being quite slow on the uptake. McKibben did finally take to heart the need for he and other campaigners to stop jet-setting the planet to attend confabs and receive accolades – are you listening Naomi Klein? I praised him again when he started to appear at conferences by Skype. The Carbon Footprint of the Climate Movement itself rivals that of a small Third World country’s!
“Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true.”
~ Ivanka Trump
The entire big money, Democratic Party-captured, corporate Green movement has been following Ivanka’s postulation for far too long – well before she said it.
If Bill really wants to get beyond this, he needs to step up and take some responsibility for the monumental lack of success. Nothing got left in the ground by Leave it the Ground sloganeering. The COVID response has shown that the only way to Leave it in the Ground is to leave it in the ground by using far less of it. The Life Support System is at a breaking point. We have to do better than that! Immediately!
He really needs to explain his support for Biomass when every legitimate activist I know of knew full well that it was/is ecocidal and opposed it fiercely. And he needs to disown his “saluted” Biomass Plant and demand its immediate shutdown or his current claim to now be against Biomass is untrue. As I’ve said above, he was given three opportunities to address the issues in the film. All that he is decrying about the film’s portrayal of him, he either wrote or it came directly out of his own mouth.
The desperate at being called-out and fearful of losing their Big Oil-based Foundation grants Big Greens’ biggest mistake is thinking we don’t have a lot more in reserve. These people are the same sold-out folks who took tens of millions from Bloomberg to falsely convince the public that “King Coal is Dead,” they claimed Bill Clinton “Saved the Ancient Forests,” etc. It will go to more exposés. I am pushing for including the coal, forest and other sell outs, too..
If we continue to let such misleadership off the hook, we, and many more innocent species, are doomed.
Power Down. People Down.
I realize I sound furious. I admit it. Not just because of the smears against the filmmakers. I am angry about all the time that has been wasted when we all knew the facts for years, all the volunteer hours, all the funds that could have been put to much better use…the freakin’ lack any effective strategy after all this time! We have a multimillion-dollar Climate Industry with no results and no accountability, limited ephemeral tactics like Divestment and “renewable” energy,” limited by funders and political partners to forever pulling their punches in a do-or-die combat with an existential crisis.
Ultimately, I am most pissed that the goal of the movie is to open a discussion about somethings that are sacred cows to the Climate Movement. And as such, are THE limiting factor in surviving or not. We must have this discussion. We are far using too much energy to fuel our unsustainable consumption, no matter what the energy source. Does it really make sense to add to the overall energy consumption? Is that electric bike really necessary? Just what is the Carrying Capacity for our habitat? At what level of consumption would each of our 7.5 billion numbers have to Equitably live for it to be Sustainable within that Carrying Capacity? Has the Climate Movement made a dent in Carbon Pollution? Do “renewables” even keep up with the rate of overall energy growth? What is the measure of success? Is it a short-lived, feel-good nibbling around the edges. Or is it stopping the headlong rush to extinction?
And quite importantly, what are we going to do when things go back to “normal?” When Consumption (of everything) and Carbon Pollution inexorably resume rising?
We could power the grid on Unicorn Farts. But if we go on consuming at the same, or likely higher rates, we’ll still eat the Planet.
These questions are what the documentary is really all about. It was the intent of the movie to initiate the discussion. How do we lower our collective oversized footprint to sustainable levels? There are no prescribed “solutions” presented in the film. (In fact, that is another of the spurious critiques). It’s up to us to come up with and act on sensible solutions. I’ll go first with a small one: how about every household gets a coupon for ten LED light-bulbs for filling out the Census? Propose much – let’s get started.
Bottom Line? Too many privileged Clever Apes, consuming too much, too rapidly.