In Surviving Progress, civilization should be viewed as an experiment
A documentary by Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks.. Rating unavailable.
As Walt Kelly’s great philosopher Pogo famously said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Okay, it was only an articulate, comic-strip opossum decades ago, but if you think humans have become smarter in the intervening years, you have another think coming.
Surviving Progress is not quite the relentless bummer this summation might imply, but it is certainly a catalogue of various ways we are amusing ourselves to death. According to directors Harold Crooks and Mathieu Roy, who lifted some of the discussion (along with the author himself) from Ronald Wright’s A Short History of Progress, civilization should be viewed as an experiment, and one that isn’t going so hot these days.
Ballooning world populations, especially in the poorest regions, can’t possibly be sustained by diminishing resources, with the consequent calamities too numerous to even imagine. And yet the wealthier nations remain certain that “progress” means undiminished growth for whoever demands it. Some expected observers include David Suzuki, Jane Goodall, and, of course, Stephen Hawking, who is increasingly sure we should just dump this crazy granite planet ASAP.
The filmmakers, who also have Martin Scorsese and Vancouverite Mark Achbar as producers, find nifty illustrations for their chats with various theorists. And there are some visits to the wild, including a segment that follows a young Brazilian enviro cop as she butts up against a big forestry company determined to wipe out the rain forest. (Why does that scenario sound familiar to us in B.C.?)
There is nothing here to sway the antiscience crowd, and there are only a few threads of hope offered for timely remediation. Still, as Hawking suggests (even if he means it in a different way), looking at our planet with some distance is now our only chance to get out of this mess.
Watch the trailer for Surviving Progress.