The Age of Stupid

It was the global premiere of the film "The Age of Stupid" yesterday. There was one show in Hong Kong and I'm glad I went to it, not only because it turned out that my favourite newspaper columnist Nury Vittachi was there to give an introduction but also because it was such a sincerely produced film.

The timing of the premiere was perfect too. Among the many things discussed in the UN General Assembly this week is Climate change. The negotiations are likely to lead to a new post-Kyoto agreement in Copenhagen in December. This hugely popular film should play a part in raising awareness.

"The Age of Stupid", an ambitious blend of drama, animation and documentary, is making a similar environmental message as former US vice-president Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth": It is a five-minutes-to-midnight scenario: there is still time to reverse the situation but we need to act quickly. Specifically, if we do not keep the global temperature rise within 2 degrees Celsius by 2015, the tipping point will be triggered and there will be no more Stop button to press. The setting of the film is the post-midnight apocalyptic Earth in the year 2055. In a tower where the world's relics are stored, an old man reminisces about how humans could have been able to save themselves but failed to do so. He takes the audience back to those critical times through some documentaries. We are introduced to an old French mountain guide, a young India entrepreneur who started a low-cost airline, an American who rescued 100 people after Hurricane Katrina, a Nigerian young woman living in Shell’s most profitable oil region in Nigeria, two Iraqi siblings whose parents were killed in the war between Iraq and the US, and an English activist battling against some anti-turbine locals. These stories are full of horrors and ironies - the helpless minnows not having a chance in their battle against those who are rich, powerful, greedy and ignorant, and whose senseless exploitation of the Earth's resources eventually condemns the humans to the doom of self-destruction.

The message is loud and clear: Act now with what little time we have. It is quite reassuring that Obama, President of the country which, along with China, is the world's largest polluter, seems to be well aware of the situation, saying that "the time we have to reverse this tide is running out". But whether his words will be turned into action for a country which refused to sign the Kyoto treaty remains to be seen.

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