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Jun 2 · Last update 1 mo. ago.

Did ‘Planet of the Humans’ get it wrong?

Michael Moore produced his latest movie ‘Planet of the Humans’ in 2019; directed by long-term collaborator Jeff Gibbs, the film was released to mark the 50th Earth Day and covered a surprising topic, the downsides to sustainable energy. The film has been massively controversial and was even removed YouTube in May 2020 due to an alleged copyright infringement. Michael Moore has defended the film and spoken out about the copyright violation as an attempt to limit free speech. Is Michael Moore right in his evaluation of his critics and the movie? Did Planet of the Humans get the argument of renewables wrong? theguardian.com/film/2020/may/26/michael-moore-film-planet-of-the-humans-removed-from-youtube#maincontent
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Yes, and it uses a racist trope while doing so…
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No – but it was failed by its own pessimism
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Yes
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The smear and censorship
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No – the sad truth
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Yes, and it uses a racist trope while doing so…

Author and Journalist George Monbiot has called out Michael Moore’s latest film not only for its use of misleading facts and at some point complete mistruths but also for its use of racist tropes in order to make a very bleak argument. Monbiot acknowledges the issues raised in the film, such as environmentally damaging material extraction for renewable technology, and even applauded the film's effort to call out corrupt environmental NGO’s. However Monbiot called out the lie that it uses more fossil fuel energy to construct a solar panel or wind turbine than the energy those technologies generate in their lifetime, he points out that for wind turbines for example 44 times more energy is produced on average than is used.

Though Monbiot’s main criticism of the film is centred around its repeated mention of a growing population being the main underlying driver to this problem and for referencing a “mass die-off” of humans as the only viable solution to the climate crisis. As population growth is now negative in much of the developed world that gave rise to climate change, the only way controlling population growth would make any sense would be if it were applied to the world’s poorest and most rapidly growing populations that have had the smallest impact on the climate. As well as an unfair argument, Monbiot suggests that this argument employs a common racist trope, fears in an affluent white population that the world’s poor black and brown “savages” are outbreeding them.

Monbiot links this argument to the age of colonialism and eugenics and points out that similar discussions have been used to justify some of the worst examples of colonialism, slavery and war crimes in history. In this way the filmmakers seem to be punching down on the world’s poorest, pretending that population growth is the biggest driver of climate change, and worsening the moral panic about black and brown people breeding too much that continues to fuel racism in the present day. Simply looking at energy inequalities in the world its clear that Monbiot's argument holds up, and unless you are talking about "die-off" in America and South Korea first (the world's biggest energy consumers), this argument makes no sense.

youtube.com/watch?v=__UJ09PZFoI

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Dec 13
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No – but it was failed by its own pessimism

Planet of the Humans invariably is right to point out certain hypocrisies in the climate movement, as a needed warning over the "wolves in sheep’s clothing" and nefarious parties that are attempting to profiteer from the green energy revolution. However despite all that they got right in the film, the filmmakers are essentially wrong in the limited scope of their analysis, so many alternatives are viable and interesting that are just not touched on in the film. Many viewers of the film pointed out that Planet of the Humans almost completely sidesteps the issue of nuclear energy, painting a dismal picture for the sake of it, as well as missing the most innovate solutions to the technology it does cover. In this way the film fails as it is just too pessimistic or ignorant of the viable alternatives, not presenting an accurate view of all the options, as it doesn’t even cover them.

The nuclear elephant in the room is probably the most significant here, but to cover this accurately the movie would have to go into much greater depth than it did and may need to consult experts and guest speakers that go against the pessimistic narrative the filmmakers were trying to create. Nuclear is the only form of energy that can quickly meet the energy needs of any large modern economy, furthermore nuclear energy does not release waste but is instead contained from the environment at large, and there is already an established framework to deal with such waste. Likewise there are alternative nuclear fuels such as thorium that have not been traditionally used in nuclear energy but are less radioactive, less wasteful and more powerful an energy source and could potentially revolutionise the nuclear energy industry. The movie was too pessimistic in that it doesn't even try to research any possible solutions and instead dwells upon the most depressing hurdles that face humanity, the movie just stands and stares at the hurdles instead of even trying to think about how to overcome them.

americanexperiment.org/2020/04/michael-shellenberger-on-planet-of-the-humans-capitalism-isnt-the-problem-with-renewable-energy-its-physics medium.com/generation-atomic/what-if-nuclear-energy-didnt-exist-441a01950bf breitbart.com/environment/2020/04/22/michael-moore-backed-planet-of-the-humans-takes-apart-the-lefts-green-energy-scams energyjustice.net/planet-of-the-humans centraltimes.org/opinions/2020/02/18/thorium-the-fuel-of-the-future

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Dec 13
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DH edited this paragraph
Planet of the Humans invariably is right to point out certain hypocrisies in the climate movement, as a needed warning over the "wolves in sheep’s clothing" and nefarious parties that are attempting to profiteer from the green energy revolution. However despite all that they got right in the film, the filmmakers are essentially wrong in the limited scope of their analysis, so many alternatives are viable and interesting that are just not touched on in the film. Many viewers of the film pointed out that Planet of the Humans almost completely sidesteps the issue of nuclear energy, painting a dismal picture for the sake of it, as well as missing the most innovate solutions to the technology it does cover. In this way the film fails as it is just too pessimistic or ignorant of the viable alternatives, not presenting an accurate view of all the options, as it doesn’t even cover them.

Yes

Despite Michael Moore’s intentions to show the dangers of including American corporations in the environmental movement, many have taken a very different message from this film. Fossil fuel-backed groups claim the film proves that renewable energy technology is more harmful to the environment than fossil fuels. It is this observation that has led climate experts to call the film dangerous, misleading and out-dated, and left some wondering if it will actually do more harm than good and fuel climate change scepticism. Michael Moore’s film also doesn’t recognise recent battery and solar panel improvements, using data from over a decade ago, and it distorts the ecological footprint of renewable energy technologies, to make its sloppily argued points.

Many of the films claims are based on older data, using the example of traditional photovoltaic solar cells made from silicon and quartz that may be taken from coal and other fossil fuels to argue that solar cells are as environmentally damaging as burning fossil fuels. However this is based upon increasingly out of date technology that is quickly being superseded by new thin-film solar cells that use a fraction of the silicon of a standard photovoltaic cell and mitigates the hazardous by-products of traditional photovoltaic cell manufacture. Likewise there are further developments on the horizon such as the use of a material called perovskite that could make photovoltaic manufacture even cheaper and cleaner. But some of the claims made in the film are just not supported by data at all, for example the argument that solar cells and wind turbines have such short life spans that manufacturing them is more wasteful than simply burning the fossil fuels needed to manufacture them.

forbes.com/sites/davidrvetter/2020/05/13/what-michael-moores-new-climate-documentary-gets-wrong-about-renewables/#73ac272b464d sciencenews.org/article/what-michael-moore-new-film-gets-wrong-about-renewable-energy

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Dec 1
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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrvetter/2020/05/13/what-michael-moores-new-climate-documentary-gets-wrong-about-renewables/#73ac272b464d https://www.sciencenews.org/article/what-michael-moore-new-film-gets-wrong-about-renewable-energy

The smear and censorship

Planet of the Humans was so divisive and received such mixed reviews as it occupied an unusual space politically while covering quite a large set of topics, topics that the film both succeeds to raise awareness over and fails to cover completely or in enough depth. That said the content provided was completely true, as the film points out the hypocrisy and pointlessness of much of the "green energy" movement and some of its crazed followers, while convincingly calling out the clear profiteering from climate hypocrites that deserve scepticism and condemnation. On 25 May 2020, the film was temporarily removed from YouTube due to a copyright infringement, which Moore and Gibbs claimed was "blatant act of censorship" [1]. However as of May 13 2020 (just a month after the films release) it had been viewed more than 7.5 million times on YouTube, so maybe the censorship ultimately helped the movie.

However the film also included some dated overpopulation theories without putting any solutions forward, and uses many out of context images and scenes, such as a dying orang-utan, for clear emotional manipulation of the audience. Regardless the film is clearly a success in the overall arguments and the number of people it has reached; ultimately fulfilling its goal of raising awareness over the corporate capture of the sustainable technology industry, and this was helped along by the corporate sector itself. In this way Planet of the Humans addresses the weird politicisation of energy production that has formed around renewable energy, whereby Michael Moore surprisingly managed to anger certain climate advocates that see any scepticism of the renewable energy industry as a right wing attack. However the filmed being endorsed by Michael Moore and directed by Jeff Gibbs, two environment long-term advocates, this is clearly not the case.

theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/28/climate-dangerous-documentary-planet-of-the-humans-michael-moore-taken-down youtube.com/watch?v=XIU3ML3xHng theguardian.com/film/2020/may/26/michael-moore-film-planet-of-the-humans-removed-from-youtube [1] thewrap.com/michael-moore-produced-planet-of-the-humans-doc-pulled-from-youtube-director-cries-censorship

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Nov 30
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DH edited this paragraph
However the film also included some dated overpopulation theories without putting any solutions forward, and uses many out of context images and scenes, such as a dying orang-utan, for clear emotional manipulation of the audience. Regardless the film is clearly a success in the overall arguments and the number of people it has reached; ultimately fulfilling its goal of raising awareness over the corporate capture of the sustainable technology industry, and this was helped along by the corporate sector itself. In this way Planet of the Humans addresses the weird politicisation of energy production that has formed around renewable energy, whereby Michael Moore surprisingly managed to anger certain climate advocates that see any scepticism of the renewable energy industry as a right wing attack. However the filmed being endorsed by Michael Moore and directed by Jeff Gibbs, two environment long-term advocates, this is clearly not the case.

No – the sad truth

Jeff Gibbs' and Michael Moore's Planet of the Humans raises important issues around the failing of the climate movement, this is a very necessary and meaningful critique. Gibbs covers the hidden ecological impact of renewables and inherent physical problem with renewable energy, which require huge amounts of space, as energy production per square meter is so small. There is also a need for a massive amount of natural resources and destruction land for construction of such technologies and they space they require to operate, cold hard realities that are often not addressed in the public discourse.

The film was widely criticised for its use of old data, arguing renewables have updated and become much more efficient since the footage was filmed, but with most sources have discussed around a 2% increase in efficiency, there won't be any great breakthroughs anytime soon. In a time where fossil fuel and timber companies are still hiding their involvement in and profiteering from renewable energy subsidies, films like this are truly necessary. The wasted land, mined resources, and waste products need to be in mind for companies, politicians, and activists moving forward, so that the green energy revolution doesn't become a green energy swindle.

theguardian.com/film/2020/apr/22/planet-of-the-humans-review-environment-michael-moore-jeff-gibbs

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Sep 4
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DH edited this paragraph
Jeff Gibbs' and Michael Moore's Planet of the Humans raises important issues around the failing of the climate movement, this is a very necessary and meaningful critique. Gibbs covers the hidden ecological impact of renewables and inherent physical problem with renewable energy, which require huge amounts of space, as energy production per square meter is so small. There is also a need for a massive amount of natural resources and destruction land for construction of such technologies and they space they require to operate, cold hard realities that are often not addressed in the public discourse.
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