The 11th Hour Completely Debunked
By: Shawn Alli
Posted: March 9, 2013
Leonardo DiCaprio's 2007 documentary The 11th Hour is about the collapse of our natural environment due to disharmonious human activities and the struggle for a sustainable way of living. The intention of the speakers are sincere and honest, I have no problem with that. However, it's the implementation of that intention that I take issue with. The implementation, like so many, involves the complete manipulation of viewers.
And even if the documentary leads to positive end results in changing the Earth, to do so through manipulative tactics is unethical.
The 11th Hour starts off with images of famine, animals dying, drought, severe malnutrition and extreme weather. Later on as the speakers talk about sustainable ways of living the images change to beautiful sceneries of nature and people working together. This is a clear manipulation ploy: choose either oil and death or solar/wind/water and natural beauty.
The 11th Hour presents the images as if they no longer exist, like a past time of natural beauty. This isn't the case though, all the beautiful scenes and images are still here today. Connecting images of life with sustainability and the opposite to global climate catastrophe is a low blow to the viewer's sense of intellect.
Every image and statement is carefully timed and edited to evoke a particular feeling from the viewer. This isn't like a movie where there are filler lines. All of the elements (images, statements, sound bites) in The 11th Hour advocate the position that we're on the brink of destroying the planet; or as Tom Linzey says, "it's the 11th hour, 59 minutes and 59 seconds." This is complete and utter nonsense.
I'll structure this article by pointing out the errors of the speakers.
Thom Hartmann says the biosphere is sick, it's hurting, and acting like an infected organism.
Does Hartmann have a deep connection with the planet that no one else has?
Does he know that if a tree is cut down the Earth feels pain?
Does he know that when nature unleashes a hurricane it's in retribution for the pain people are causing it?
Making analogies of our everyday observations to the health of the planet is erroneous and misleading. Many climate change "experts" take this kind of approach, where they're somehow more in-tune with nature and understand it better than the mass public.
While I believe that nature is a living being and the planet is the body or shell I won't take the position that I have a deep connection or any connection at all to understand why it does what it does. When a hurricane takes place in the US, what does it mean? What's the purpose of it? Does it somehow help the planet? I don't know any of these answers, but apparently climate experts like Hartmann, and almost every speaker in The 11th Hour believes they know the answers. A bit too much ego and PhD's cloud their judgments in my opinion.
Hartmann goes on to talk about ancient sunlight (oil, natural gas, coal) stored in the earth, and if we don't use it the planet can only support 0.5 - 1 billion people. I don't buy it. I can understand it for the pre-industrial age, but definitely not today.
If oil disappears overnight, people can utilize solar energy panels and store the energy for later, operating with more than the available sunlight in a given year. But the truth is that oil is not in low supply or disappearing anytime soon because oil is a renewable resource, just like wind, water and solar.
For Hartmann and Brock Dolman to depict oil as, "a fossil fuel death cycle" is erroneous. The purpose in writing my book, Oil, The 4th Renewable Resource is to dispel these myths and bring a sense of reason to the debate.
James Hillman (a psychologist) says that to think of yourself as separate from nature is a thinking disorder.
Excellent, another disorder for the DSM to be cured by prescription drugs or outdated theoretical models of the mind.
But the point leads to a question without an answer from any of the speakers: what is the definition of nature? Is it the planet? A blade of grass? Dirt? A micro-organism? A hurricane? A butterfly? If it's any one of these answers than yes I am a separate being from nature. If the definition is a carbon based life form, then no I'm not separate from the planet, we're both carbon buddies for life.
Many speakers in The 11th Hour talk about how we can't think of ourselves as separate from nature, to do so would be foolish. But making these kinds of broad philosophical statements doesn't help in clarifying anything; it only shows a lack of intellect in understanding the aspects and dimensions of what it means to be human.
Does a butterfly, micro-organism or a blade of grass experience reality as humans do? No, so why is it wrong to think that we're separate beings?
Paul Stamets says he has dreams of future generations screaming that we're at a critical point and to continue our way of life is suicide. This is another over the top dramatic statement that manipulates people into action. He goes on to say the planet is resilient but if we screw it up with a dramatic climate shift it may become like Mars.
Stephen Hawking sings the same tune with the worst case scenario due to manmade climate change is the Earth becoming like Venus.
Is this a documentary on facts or a science fiction movie?
No credible scientist believes our atmosphere is shifting to become like Mars or Venus due to climate change, and for those that do, it's another scare tactic to spur actions. I don't have a problem with people reducing their carbon footprint or living a more sustainable lifestyle. I have a problem when they do so out of manipulation and scare tactics. Yes, the end result may be the same, but it's not genuine action, it's a farce that implies the public can't differentiate genuine action from manipulated action.
David Orr and Ray Anderson make the claim that we're at the tipping point and that Hurricane Katrina events will become the norm. This inference is very dangerous and one that environmentalists use on a daily basis: any type of extreme or even common weather is all due to manmade climate change.
A hurricane in the south...climate change, a flood in the midwest...global warming, a bad crop season in developing countries...climate change. This scapegoat tactic is not only erroneous but causes the public to misperceive natural events in nature.
But this gets into something worse. The most dangerous ideology in this documentary is about nature and/or God sending messages to humanity through these events.
Nathan Gardels says, "in the past there's revenge of the gods or nature and that we're now seeing it in our time." I can't overestimate how dangerous this thinking is because it posits that every natural disaster is nature's vengeance on humans for inflicting pain on it. This is not the case and can never be proven; it's just conjecture and interpretation from speakers with particular ideologies.
But statements like this convey the feeling of biblical authority, that if we're not good humans we'll be snuffed out by a vengeful God/planet. We tell these kinds of stories to kids to keep them in line, using the threat of punishment.
David Suzuki says that we've forgotten an ancient truth, that if we offend nature we'll have to pay a price.
Again, this gives the perception of "the wrath of God/nature" exacting vengeance on humanity. This type of punishment ideology doesn't belong in this debate and only fuels the flames of fear based actions. For Gardels, Suzuki and other environmentalists to use this to spur action, is one of the strongest manipulation ploys to keep the public on a short leash.
Stephen Hawking says that life is only possible within narrow parameters of the environment.
This is not true at all and looks at the issue backwards.
It's not that life matches the environment around it, but rather the environment enables the conditions for life. If the environment is deep in the sea with no sunlight, those are the conditions that life will adapt to and come into existence. Micro-organisms exist in deep pressures in the earth. It's not that life is placed there and hopefully will survive, but rather the environment creates particular conditions for a few species to flourish.
But let's go back to humans. Can humans only survive in narrow parameters?
No, it depends on the beginning of how the species originates.
I'll use a few hypothetical scenarios: in the beginning, before human life, the atmospheric pressure above the sea is five times than the current psi. And let's say our atmosphere is barely existent and the Earth is hit by cosmic, UV and x-rays on a daily basis. Will human life develop? Yes, but the environment will enable humans to survive in these conditions. Or, in the beginning, if human life develops on the moon instead of the Earth, human organs and bodily functions will be very different because it molds itself to the external environment.
Taking this to a more esoteric level, the environment acts as the observer and collapses potentials within a particular framework. The environment exists first and life comes after, operating within the current framework of the planet.
Stephen Hawking believes in manmade global warming, so it has to be right?
No, this is a strategic move by DiCaprio to give the theory more credibility in the eyes of the public. He toes the same line that we're at the tipping point and there's no more land available.
Being a Canadian author, I can tell you without a doubt that Canada has a massive amount of land to cultivate. This is not just a few kilometers (or miles) of open land, this is hundreds of thousands of square kilometers untouched. I'm not saying we should develop all of it into urban cities, but it's definitely there waiting for development. Canada is second to Russia in total land area with 9 million square kilometers (3.4 million square miles).
The ranking of provinces and territories with the most amount of land is Nunavut, Quebec and the Northwest Territories (my former residence). While Nunavut is a bit too cold for most people, wind energy is there for the taking. The government and private sector isn't cultivating this resource because the maintenance of windmills is too much.
I'd like to think that one out of the 56 speakers from The 11th Hour can innovate a solution.
David Suzuki says that we're killing off 50-55,000 species a year according to the UN environment program.
That figure is complete nonsense.
Wikipedia list 60 animals extinct because of humans. A few pages of a web search puts the number under 20 according to historical records (granted, are not much). I think 100-150 is a fair number. But if I start in the '70s, when the environmental movement really takes off, and move up to 2013 today, that's 43 years. 43 x David Suzuki's 55,000 species = 2,365,000.
If someone can send me information and pictures of the 2 million species that are now extinct because of humans, I'll post a correction in a future article.
Wes Jackson and Joseph Tainter argue that the foundation of Western economy is oil and coal and these resources subsidize our lifestyle. I don't take argument with this, my only question is, so what? Yes, oil is the building block of our Western lifestyle but there's no problem with this if the government regulates it like the other resources, an equal playing field as Vijay Vaihtheeswaran says. And this is what's needed, not global scare tactics.
Tough regulations on oil corporations who currently run free at any cost to the public or the environment, are what's necessary. This is what the public and environmental movements should be doing to pressure the government.
Leonardo DiCaprio says a few degrees in temperature may be all that separates us from catastrophic change.
We've been hearing these same lines for over 40 years, the same few changes in global temperatures.
Bill Mickibben goes along with this and mentions computer models to add credibility. The public is well versed in the adjustments of computer equations that show a global catastrophe.
With the scandal of the 2009 "climategate papers," tweaking graphs and equations are a constant manipulation ploy by "climate experts." The oceans are still plentiful with marine life even with oceanographers talking about future dead areas where no marine life will be present; all theories and no facts.
Dicaprio talks about nature being seen as property or a resource. I have no issue with that. If you own a home you're supporting the notion of nature as property. I'm pretty sure all 56 speakers in The 11th Hour own their own home and in doing so support private property and seeing the Earth as a resource. I think they're blind to their own actions being in conflict with their intentions.
DiCaprio goes on to say that we're ignoring nature's warning signs. And these would be what? Hurricanes? Droughts? Famine?
Clearly, DiCaprio has a stronger connection with nature and knows why nature does what it does, its purpose, its long term goals, and its vision. Forgive the sarcasm, but when people think they know what's going on with the Earth because they're more "attuned to it," I do my best to tune them out.
DiCaprio uses the same line that Stephen Schneider and Peter Demenocal use, that scientists are united in this climate change and there's overwhelming evidence to prove it's manmade.
I'm not saying people and corporations are saints to the Earth. The toxic waste dumped into rivers, lakes and oceans alone should warrant the dissolution of a corporation and criminal charges. I'm saying that the climate change industry is run like a religious cult; there's rigid doctrine to follow, the sin of outputting CO2, and the celebrity and scientific saviors such as James Hansen.
DiCaprio, Demenocal and Schneider are living in a fantasy world where scientists are objective, disinterested, and have the highest ethics. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Paul Hawken says over 1 million environmental and social justice organizations are making good headway in finding solutions.
If that's the case then why is The 11th Hour sounding the global catastrophe alarm?
If the organizations are pushing as hard as they can, why such dire proclamations and suggestions to change how the Western economy operates?
If there are over a million of these organizations, then clearly, they're failing in their objectives. If 1 million organizations are not capable of changing the global environmental policy then they should all be scraped and go back to the drawing board.
But one of the reasons for this failure is due to operating in a Western economic framework, where it's designed to fail or be inefficient in causing change. If a person, the public or an organization wants to cause real change in this world they have to go outside the established framework and take action.
Rick Fedrizzi and John Todd talk about green building. I support green building and look forward to the expansion of this industry. However, the two speakers argue that a typical detached house is unsustainable. I have a problem with this statement because it's false. These houses aren't unsustainable, some are operating for over 9 decades, that's pretty sustainable. Just like nature, a lack of definition leads to wild claims about every aspect of Western life being unsustainable, and this just isn't the case.
Gloria Flora makes a good point about voting with every transaction; any object or service a person pays for implies a tacit consent. And this applies to every speaker in The 11th Hour.
Electric cars now exist, so any speaker who still drives a gas-fuelled vehicle is voting for oil and is a hypocrite for not practicing what they preach. Unfortunately, there are no planes or large scale transportation vehicles that operate solely on solar, wind or biofuel.
I'm not saying that these 56 speakers should stop using these services. I'm saying that if they live in regular houses attached to the grid, their sewage system operating via municipal infrastructure, and drive a gas-fueled vehicle, than all viewers should disregard The 11th Hour speakers as hypocrites and manipulators.
The 11th Hour gets a grade of D-, just barely passing. Good intentions coupled with poor ethics.