I have a confession to make. Lately, I’ve been sick of the Earth. Or at least sick of hearing about how we’re ruining it.
Before you judge, you should know that I make a monthly donation to a Save the Planet charity that shall remain nameless (because I’m about to talk shit about them). In fact, some guy from the organization called me last year and told me that my annual donation was in the 95th percentile of their donors, which now that I think about it can’t possibly be true. But they still want more. Not more money, believe it or not. They want my time. They want me to read their emails about whales, tar sands, and our old Prime Minister and how hell-bent he was on destroying the planet. They don’t even ask for more money. They just want to say hi and tell me how bad things are getting.
So I’m burnt out on the topic, I’ll admit it. And, apparently, so is Naomi Klein. Klein, narrator of This Changes Everything and author of the book on which it’s based, opens her climate change documentary with a confession much like mine. She doesn’t usually like documentaries about climate change. She can’t bring herself to care much about polar bears and she feels she’s heard it all before. “Is it possible to be bored with the end of the world?” she asks.
It’s the perfect setup for yet another climate change documentary. I literally AM bored with the end of the world and, if this is going to be the climate change documentary for people that are, then I’m keeping an open mind. Although skeptical at first, I was surprised to find myself thinking, “Okay, I’m with you so far”.
So, for 89 minutes, I decided to set aside my boredom with the end of the world and just let myself relax and be bored by this movie instead. Klein’s thesis, that global warming isn’t about polar bears or statistics but a story that we’ve been telling ourselves for four centuries, makes sense to me. For the last four hundred years (although, in fairness, I’m only willing to accept any personal responsibility for the last thirty), we have stopped seeing nature as something to be respected and revered and started seeing it as something to be conquered and manipulated for our own ends.
While I admire her for reframing the problem of climate change as a story that we keep telling ourselves, Klein and director Avi Lewis lose some points for telling us the same story over and over. This Changes Everything is structured in five short segments that take us to Canada, the United States, Greece, India, and China, documenting the consequences of corporations’ attemtps to conquer nature and the concerned citizens who are actively trying to make a change. Because Klein seems to be making the same point with each segment, the impact of these stories diminishes with each new chapter.
All kidding aside about how I’m kind of bored with the end of the world, we are without question killing this beautiful planet that we are so lucky to have found ourselves on. I finally got to see The Martian last night and it only reconfirmed my feeling that of all the planets in our solar system, we got the best one. Climate change IS very sad, even if I too often feel numb to it. If corporations are allowed to keep doing what they’re doing, disaster is inevitable and, if you doubt it, I’d recommend this movie or Klein’s book or, better yet, I’ve got lots of informational emails from charities that I’d be all too happy to get off my hands. But if you’re already part of the choir, maybe it’s okay sometimes to get tired of listening to the preacher.