Monday, August 6, 2012

The 11th Hour

The 11th Hour is a documentary-style video about the relationship between Earth, the animals that inhabit it, and most importantly the impact that we, the human race in our present form, has upon the globe we inhabit.

The film starts by drawing attention to the fact that so many factors of Earth are interrelated - that is to say, the Earth and it's attributes affect humanity, humanity affects the Earth, and the Earth impacts humanity. The Earth gives us the resources we need to create prosperity and abundance, we use this prosperity to further ramp and production and our prosperity "exponential growth" by taking natural resources and affecting the Earth, and this impact on the Earth comes back finally to affect us by way of changing climates, natural disasters, changing weather patterns, and so on. The causative effect between human action and environmental change and thus the effect on humanity is illustrated well and has an impact upon the viewer.

The illustration of the core theme of the documentary is illustrated next, through a sort of metaphor of "borrowed energy" - humanity's use of oil and fossil fuel products and how this "breaks the rules" of traditional human existence. Humanity before the advent of fossil fuel products was locked into a self-limiting system, whereby we could not utilise more energy to produce and create and grow than what was given to us in the form of sunlight. The problem of fossil fuel use is illustrated, by the imagery of "borrowing" energy we are not supposed to have access to. This fossil fuel use has allowed us, in a way, to live on borrowed time where we are utilising the higher energy levels available to us in fossil fuel to power our cars, our homes, our factories and indeed the very tools of our continuing society. This is all well and good except the precedent has been set - a precedent Society has been geared to operate at this high level output where so much is available to us through fossil fuel use, but being a limited resource it is destined to run out and as such our society is not sustainable. Something will have to break - and the point is it will not be nature.

I think this is the main point of the documentary, and most of the interviewees refer to this plight of humanity.

The film is fairly boring for the most part - the interviews are not very engaging oftentimes. The middle in particular I really felt the compulsion to skip. The end with its possible solutions are probably the best part, where the idea of building cities in the mould of a forest where we produce enough energy to power ourselves is novel and provides some real models and ideas and innovation for the future. As a product designer this is what there should have been more of!

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