Sunday, April 26, 2020

Jeff Gibbs & Michael Moore's "Planet of the Humans"

Michael Moore vs. renewables-- and released on Earth Day?! Wow! Here's a link to the video on YouTube (free for the first month). And a good article from Forbes that introduced me to it. 


-The film's view is utterly Malthusian. But at least it's much more realistic about theory and practice-- and counting more of the costs. While troubling and ultimately deeply anti-human, the Malthusian angle is secondary to gaining a ton of clarity on the renewable energy movement; without that, you can't get to the population problem through his lens.

-Renewables cannot possibly replace oil/coal, until we can store energy and get much more efficient in producing it. (Also, no mention of nuclear, aside from a passing poke at 1:22.Toward the beginning (:07) and the end (1:26), Gibbs uses devastating segments on the utter hypocrisy of energy used at alternative energy events. Beyond that, the film is crushing on the footprint of producing wind/solar (not exactly very small!) And the industry relies on technology produced by "the Koch Brothers": HI-larious and DEE-licious!

-The last 25 minutes is on the profit motive and especially cronyism (both of which he labels "capitalism")-- with some absolute haymakers directed at McKibben and Gore. The charges of (and evidence for) cronyism about Gore, McKibben, etc. should be deeply troubling to anyone who calls themselves liberal or leftie (or maybe even Dems).

-The discussion about religion around 50:00 was interesting! Much of this reduces to the equivalent of (largely blind) religious faith/beliefs for most folks. Jeff Gibbs apparently had an evidential/anecdotal epiphany that made him open to evidence. He became a "seeker" looking for "the truth". Upon that evidence, he's moved away from alternative energy as the great hope to depopulation as the only legit answer (given other parts of his worldview). Moreover, he's quite-comfortably incorporated AE into another dominant (and eminently reasonable) theory: the use of govt, PR, etc. by AE'ers for (crony) capitalistic ends. More broadly, how does one fill the void once the god is dethroned?

-The emphasis on biomass is not nearly as extensive as the critics say. There are 17 (uncomfortable) minutes on biomass as an energy source (:52-1:09). But much of it is used to poke at "industry insiders" and activists​-- rather than critiquing biomass per se. As for an even-handed benefit/cost an even-handed benefit/cost analysis, the movie is not great on that. But it's (ironically) far better on that account than the reviewer about the movie. 

-McKibben's reaction to the documentary--he says he's been libeled, because although he previously supported biomass, he is on record as opposing it. (And 1:35:20's wrap-up said that he has clarified that he is opposed to biomass.) It'll be interesting to see how the libel suit goes. (In contrast, I haven't seen any charges about libel in response to Schweizer's takedown on the corruption of prominent Dem pols.) McKibben also says he receives no corporate money. His claims in the interview/film about 350's funding were howl-inducing. $19.1 million in the most recent year and he didn't remember the key funders. LOL! If you only want to watch snippets on him, there are key moments for him at 1:14:30 (on his investment reqs) and 1:24:40 on claiming not to know how he's funded.

This response on DailyKos was mostly ad hominem, guilt by association, fallacy of authority, etc. (It's also telling that the critics don't have a problem with the anti-human perspective.​) And of course, as a free speech fan, I'm sorry to see efforts to try to shut this down, rather than debate it. In any case, I encourage you to watch/judge it yourself, esp. since it's stirred up so much in terms of science and religious views about the environment. 

This article on Vox is more impressive as critique. The most compelling point she makes (assuming it's true) is that the info is not the most recent. She repeats the odd criticism about the film's "focus" on biomass, missing the larger point of that focus. She's critical of the film's anti-human focus, so I appreciate that!

Here's a solid review by Michael Shellenberger in Forbes. And a really strong piece from Pierre Desrochers at AIER, including the "Bootleggers and Baptists" angle. 

Heartland Institute has a nice podcast on this. Among other things, I was surprised to learn at the end that they're not "climate change denialists" (unless one uses a weird/deceptive and rhetorically-useful version of the word): they acknowledge anthropogenic global warming and are even open to carbon-reducing policies. They think the models over-estimate and they think the policies are more costly than admitted, but that ain't "denial". 


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