Home, the movie

I have had “Home” on my DVD wishlist for a while, so I was very excited to find it on YouTube.com. The movie opens with some background on how our ecosystem formed. It’s not a detailed account of all 4 billion years, but it hits the highlights; especially the ones that are important for understanding the rest of the movie. After that, the movie talks about the humble beginnings of homo sapiens, from hunter gatherers, to subsistence farmers, and on through the industrial revolution. Then the movie expounds on the many ways in which man has changed the environment to suit himself, with many devastating effects. It paints a sad picture of a planet being consumed at an unsustainable pace. Home ends with signs of hope, and a call to action.

What I loved most about the movie was the beautiful cinematography. The movie is mostly a series of high definition aerial clips that are sometimes breathtaking, and sometimes bleak. I imagined, while watching it, that some people might come away with a sense of pride, at how much we’ve “accomplished”. There are many shots that illustrate the power and ingenuity of our species. I, however, felt a very strong sense of doom. When I see giant machines, I see massive destruction. When I see a precisely engineered military weapon, I don’t see national security, I see death and suffering. In my experience, machines have the potential to improve our lives in many ways, but they are usually deployed by soulless corporations that are motivated only by profit.

But, I digress. The mid segment in Home brought tears to my eyes. The movie did end on a high note. I suppose that’s a good thing, but it may not be realistic. It sure looks like the Keystone XL pipeline is going to get approved, and the tar sands of Canada will be exploited at any and all cost to the environment. I hope I’m wrong, and Transcanada gets stopped in their tracks. However, as I write this, the US Senate is drafting legislation to do an end run around the President. It may save face for Obama, if they can pass it over his veto, but the end result will be devastating for Alberta and the entire world.

The other thing that made be sad, while watching Home, was the shots of the elephants. Elephants are such amazing, intelligent, and social creatures. They have extended family systems, they care for their own, and they mourn their dead. Yet, they are being slaughtered for their ivory in record numbers. The number of elephants in the wild has reached an all time low, and they could be wiped out in 10 years, if the current rate of poaching continues. How can people buy something made of ivory, knowing that a majestic, sentient creature was slaughtered for it? Maybe it’s just ignorance. If it is, I hope people wake up before it’s too late. If we’re the caretakers of this planet, we’re doing a piss poor job.

On a final note: I highly recommend the movie, “Home”. It covers a lot of ground in 90 minutes. I think everyone who lives on this planet should see it.

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The Headwaters

Check out this TED talk by Wade Davis about the pristine wilderness that will be in jeopardy if the tar sands industry has it’s way. There are some very beautiful images.

Sadly, if people don’t wake up soon, there won’t be a place on the planet that will go untouched. There are diseases ravishing northern forests, as those diseases migrate north with warmer temperatures. Permafrost is melting, glaciers are disappearing, and polar bears are starving. And that is before the miners and oilmen arrive to decimate the landscape.

Yet, there are people living near me, on the beach, who don’t believe the sea level is rising. I understand why people are skeptical. These changes are happening over decades, and short term cycles often mask the long term trends. Unfortunately, if we wait until we can see the tsunami coming, there will only be enough time to run for our lives. There will be no time to save our homes and our homeland.

If we do leave some natural resources in the ground, and take a more conservative approach to life, and we discover that there is no global crisis, after all, what did it hurt? Where is the harm in preserving our beautiful planet? Why must we blow the tops off of mountains, dump our waste in every river, and drill for every drop of oil? Can we never be satisfied?