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Climate Change Education .Org:
Age of Stupid -- Synopsis

Provided by Ph.D. candidate in Climate Science
at Stanford University
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Age of Stupid
Stephen Schneider
Michael Wehner
Film Synopsis 1 2
Recommendations by

North American Theater Premier:
May 2009,
San Francisco
Who Was There

Photos 1 2


• The film is mostly documentary-style summarizing some of the issues of climate change (especially statistics about emissions), including using clever animations.

• The film focuses on six narrative human stories: a new low-cost Indian airline company, a mountain guide in the Alps, a Katrina hurricane victim and oil worker, a Nigerian woman and the effects of Shell on the country, an Iraqi family that are now refugees in Jordan, and a UK man working to build a wind farm but failing due to NIMBY opposition.

• In the Q&A, the director said that after Inconvenient Truth came out, they decided to cut most of the science out of the film.

• The set up of the film is a man composing a cautionary tale to be transmitted into space form the world’s archive (a station in the Arctic) in 2055 about how we destroyed our world, even though we knew it was coming and we knew what to do to avoid it. “A man living alone in the devastated future world of 2055, looking at old footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?”

• The film powerfully pulls you into the human stories, explores issues of personal choice, current hypocrisies, vividly depicts how we already are seeing the effects of climate change, and presents a strong call for action (mainly mass protest) in support of international action to reduce emissions.

Science Context:

• At start of film, text comes on claiming that it is “based on mainstream scientific predictions.” On their website, they claim it is based on the IPCC and Met Office BAU scenarios.

• The only “expert” interviewed is Mark Lynas (journalist, author of “Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet”), who mainly talks about the need to keep the world within 2ºC of warming and the emissions reductions necessary to meet that target. On their website, he makes some detailed arguments defending the film’s depictions at 2055.

• They also have a quote from Richard Betts on their website: “The changes to our climate depicted by the Age of Stupid are certainly not science fiction. They are at the extreme end of the projections, but still plausible, and very real changes are already taking place in our environment. Those detailed below are just some of the changes we're most likely to see by the middle of this century.”

2055 (sequence at start):
• Devastated world, mass refugee camps, deserted landscapes, collapse of civilization. (It is “too late for us”).
• London Flooded (supposedly, accordingly to the website, because of a storm surge)
• Alps completely devoid of snow/ice cover in the winter.
• Australia: on fire, laying waste to Sydney.
• Las Vegas abandoned and covered with desert.
• Burning of the amazon.
• Meltdown of human civilization: refuge camps, vulture pecking outside a ruined Taj Mahal, food scarcity, images of destroyed (burned/flooded) cities.

2010? (Unclear the exact date that they are referring to):
• Heatwaves
• Desert expanding at 3 miles/ year
• Multiple ice shelves collapsing, Africa partially flooded
• Glacier retreating in Alps

Spin-up from 2010-2055 (at end):
• 2017: 3rd Katrina
• Heatwaves, fires, extreme events, riots, floods
• 2030: riots, migration, closing borders
• Wars, droughts, past 2ºC at 2040, burning forests, food crisis
• Heavy flooding

-- Provided to ClimateChangeEducation.Org by
Ph.D. candidate in Climate Science at Stanford University.
Written to facilitate reviews and discussion on the film following the San Francisco International Fim Festival Screenings.

Summaries of The Age of Stupid
Provided by graduate students specializing in
climate change science who attended the May 2009 U.S. premier.
Synopsis submitted by student from:
Stanford University       University of California

Two films on climate change, co-presented by
SFIFF and Climate Change Education .Org,
in May of 2009:

Age of Stupid [North American Premier]
A Sea Change [West Coast Debut]

Age of Stupid U.S. Theater Premier -- May 2009:  
Who Was There    Reviews    Photos   

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