Frequently Asked Questions
You have been an environmentalist your whole life. Tell us about your environmental philosophy.
My environmental philosophy has always been to search for a simpler, more sustainable way to live – that we must love nature as we love ourselves, and as we solve environmental problems we also must take care of all humans. I believe we are all in this together, and we sink or swim together. We each must collectively do the best we can in an imperfect world, while working together to find a better way to live locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. I have come to grips with the reality that our entire current civilization is unsustainable, and only a complete rethinking of who and what we are will save us, and just as importantly save all the species that do not deserve to perish.
Why did you decide to make this movie?
After hearing for most of my life that the downfall of our living planet was to occur “someday,” my journalistic work revealed it was already well underway. Honeybees and trees were dying, song birds were disappearing, superstorms were hitting, and invasive species were taking over. As I explored just how bad things might become, I also wondered just what was in the way of we humans getting our act together. And to my surprise over time I realized that the illusion we could fix all of this with “green” technology was one of the things distracting us from making a real plan to save ourselves.
What’s the one takeaway you hope people have after viewing this movie?
That even if there was such a thing as green, clean, infinite, renewable energy it would make no difference unless we humans have an off switch. Unlimited growth on a finite planet is suicide, the consequences of which we are already experiencing in climate change, global pandemic, pollution and toxins poisoning the entire planet, and, worst of all in my view, the collapse of biodiversity and thousands of species on the edge of extinction. I would add that as we find a path to “less is the new more,” job number one is take care of each other both because it’s the right and loving thing to do, and desperate humans are not good for the planet.
Jeff, while this film was a real eye-opener, and I appreciated its brutal honesty, its depiction of such a bleak future was too hard for me to take. I’m already full of despair after two months of quarantine and three years of Trump. Is there any hope?
I completely understand how you feel because I feel it, too. That cliche of it being “the darkest before the dawn” is actually true. We are in a dark, dark time — which means the light must be somewhere ahead. True hope comes from facing reality. Fake hope, based on false solutions and wishful thinking when we’re in a battle for our lives and for our living planet, will get us all killed. Only by acknowledging how bad things have become can we come out the other side creating a better world with true hope. As a therapist and social worker in a former life, I witnessed people dealing with issues they thought were impossible to face—only to emerge on the other side with a profound sense of relief and ready to take on the world. This must be our stance after witnessing a film like this. Action – working together – and leaving behind the ways that were contributing to us losing the fight to save the environment — this is the path out of our despair.
You have certainly opened our eyes up to some so-called green groups and their leaders. It was shocking to watch. But it also broke my heart. I loved Al Gore and his documentary (and he got the most votes in 2000!). I support Sierra Club and 350.org. It’s clear that some of them may have hooked up with GoldmanSachs and Mike Bloomberg and, in one case the Koch Bros — but why did you have to go after them? Aren’t the bad guys Trump, Exxon and the climate denying Republicans?
I have been an environmentalist my entire life, since before the first Earth Day. I voted for Al Gore. I admire Bill McKibben and the good he accomplished. And I often wonder what John Muir would say about our beloved Sierra Club today. Yes, our hearts are broken, too, to see these people and groups working with Wall Street and billionaires and leading the environmental movement down roads that have led us to losing the battle to save the planet. The movement was steered away from the true crux of the evil we’ve been facing for decades. Corporate America has co-opted parts of the green movement — and at what price? We are honest filmmakers with no grudge to bear — only the truth is what we want. We will show you things you won’t want to see — but like in Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, we ask you please don’t look away, let us show you what they don’t want you to see. In the last film I worked on with Michael Moore, he included a scene that showed President Obama telling the people of Flint to go ahead and drink the tainted water – and then he faked like he was drinking from a glass of alleged Flint water. It was shocking, but here was an Obama supporter and filmmaker (Moore) showing people the awful truth. That’s what I did in Planet of the Humans. If we don’t face the truth we’re doomed. My camera will expose whatever and whoever needs to be exposed, no matter how much it hurts me to do it. I’ll leave the PR work to other environmental journalists and documentary makers who would have you believe we are going to solar panel and windmill our way out of this mess. (To see my response to Bill McKibben, click here)
I heard the distributor pulled the film, yet I clicked on it and I was like the 4 millionth person to download it? What’s going on?
We’d like to know, too — and if you find out, let us know! We’ve heard the rumors that we had a distributor who pulled the film — a site we never even heard of! We are not sure why someone would lie about this, or why anyone in the media would repeat such an easily refutable falsehood. Michael Moore’s Rumble Media is the only distributor, in partnership exclusively with YouTube for “Planet of the Humans.” “Planet of the Humans” was released on the eve of Earth Day 2020, free to the public, by Rumble Media — and the movie has had an unprecedented number of downloads for a feature documentary film — 4 million in eight days! Clearly someone(s) do not want the public to see this movie. But rest assured, we have not and will not miss a single day of distribution. The movie continues its run for free on YouTube and we thank the thousands of you who‘ve left us wonderful comments on the movie. And thanks also to the amazing critical reception — “Fresh rating” on Rotten Tomatoes.
I noticed you didn’t bring up population control in the movie? What do you think about it?
We would never use the words “population control;” we despise coercive population control. Further, we believe it’s unethical to talk about population without talking about consumption, economic growth, and capitalism. It’s true that the expansion of our human numbers and our level of first-world consumption has been and remains the prime driver of this human-caused extinction event. Our human numbers have doubled in the past fifty years, while our economic activity has QUADRUPLED, and as a consequence life on earth has been in precipitous decline.
But don’t take my word for it, consider this 2019 UN study described by the BBC:
Nature crisis: Humans ‘threaten 1m species with extinction’
“… while the Earth has always suffered from the actions of humans through history, over the past 50 years, these scratches have become deep scars. The world’s population has doubled since 1970, the global economy has grown four-fold, while international trade has increased 10 times over.”
Or this WWF assessment:
“We are living through the Great Acceleration – a unique event in the 4.5 billion-year history of our planet – with exploding human population and economic growth driving unprecedented planetary change through the increased demand for energy, land and water (figure 2) 6,7.”
“a myth-shattering film about the fragile future of human life”
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