The Planet of the Humans
Directed by Jeff Gibbs (2020)
Executive Producer Michael Moore
This very alarming film mainly (released on Earth Day on Michael Moore’s YouTube channel) concerns the capture of the climate movement by Wall Street interests. It places special emphasis on environmental NGOs, like Serra Club, 350.org, and the Nature Conservancy, which are increasingly partnering with Wall Street banks and corporations to promote technological solutions (such as solar panels, wind turbines, concentrated solar mirrors, and large scale biomass and biofuel production). These technologies are immensely profitable for corporations, but as director Jeff Gibbs demonstrates, are unsustainable in the long term without addressing population growth and massive overconsumption in the industrial North.
The film begins by closely examining, in turn, each of these heavily promoted renewable technologies. For me, the issues raised about solar photovoltaic and wind turbine technology, both strongly embraced by climate activists, are the most concerning. Gibbs reminds us that all solar panels and turbines have a fairly short lifespan (20 year), which is most concerning in light of the large environmental and carbon footprint they leave during mining and manufacture of the raw materials they consume. The steel and cement required for wind turbines have a sizeable carbon footprint in themselves, and the mining (in third world countries) of cobalt, lithium, nickel, tin, and rare earth minerals used in solar batteries and electric vehicles produces substantial quantities of uranium, radon, and other radioactive isotopes as waste products. The mining process also produces a significant quantity of sulfur hexafluoride, a greenhouse gas 23,000 times more potent than CO2.
Gibbs ends by examining specific ties between environmental NGOs and Wall Street players:
- received millions in donations from the world’s leading timber company for their support of biomass energy (ie clearing of native forests to produce wood chips).
- received millions in donations from Michael Bloomberg to replace coal fired power plants with those powered by (equally polluting) natural gas.
- major backer of Green Century Mutual Funds, which are 1% invested in solar and wind technology and 99% invested in oil, gas, tar sands, and unsustainably produced biofuels.
- sell solar panels and electric vehicles from their website.
- is biggest international investor in Viva, the biggest corporate destroyer of native forests.
Bill McKibben and 350.org
- assisted Goldman Sachs in raising capital for a Brazilian project to increase sugar cane production for ethanol (increasing Amazon deforestation and displacing indigenous populations).
- co-founder of Generation Investment Management, a company specializing in biomass and biofuels production (this was prior to the 2005 release of his film An Inconvenient Truth).
- co-founder of a multibillion dollar sustainability investment fund based in the Cayman Islands.
- largest corporate recipient of federal biomass subsidies.
The second video is a Q&A hosted by Michael Moore (executive producer), Jeff Gibbs (director), and Ozzie Zehner (producer) on April 23rd.