Embracing the End of Our World in Two Hours or Less: A Movie Review

by | Oct 26, 2016 | Opinion, page 2

Last Thursday, Oct. 20, in Gregory 161, thirty or so brave souls faced their environmentally driven fate with organic, vegan, gluten free and sustainable snacks and all the Yerba Mate one could wish for while watching Josh Fox’s latest documentary: How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.

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The movie, sponsored by the Students for Environmental Action, is one of the most recent installments in the world of documentarians and environmentalists.  It has most of the same gimmicks—a well-off person whose life is marginally affected by the destruction of our planet sets off with a seemingly endless budget to discover the consequences of climate change outside of their privileged upbringing in upstate New York.

So, what is new and exciting about this film? While visiting 12 different countries, Josh Fox (the movie’s star and filmmaker) focuses on the intersectionality of climate change. In an article on EcoWatch he said, “Our current system is based on greed, competition, violence, institutionalized racism, materialism and fossil fuels.” The recognition of the unequal distribution of climate ruin is essential to fully assess the consequences and soon-to-be irreversible damages that our world is going to face.

Additionally, Fox doesn’t hide the fact that in many ways we are too late. The interviews with scientists and environmental experts scattered throughout the film give it to us straight: we are headed towards a 2-degree temperature increase and will likely sail right past that and keep climbing. How to Let Go doesn’t sugar coat the high potentiality that humans will experience total climate annihilation within a few decades. It’s a refreshing, realistic pessimism that I can resonate with.

After dumping the end of the world on the audience Fox takes us on his journey to visit activists around the world, those who are currently experiencing the loss of their land, air, food and water. He encourages us—despite the seeming hopelessness of it all—to take action, to partake in civil disobedience, to pressure politicians to change the laws and not to give up. And as the title of the film aptly conveys, he instructs us to love the aspects of human nature that will remain unaffected by climate change—our endless perseverance and resilience that CAN stop fracking, offshore drilling, air pollution and deforestation.  

Is Fox a little annoying and does he film himself too much? Yes. Does his film honestly and accurately inform the audience about how the climate is changing and suggest ways to get involved? Also, yes. So, like most documentaries you’ll want to roll your eyes at the maker of the film, but will walk away more informed and conceivably more committed to preserving our Earth.

[photos courtesy of Ana McNaughton]

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