Environmental documentaries are important, yet incredibly depressing. No one will argue that we live on the Earth, and we have to take care of it. Since the 70s, the conversation focused on the dangers of global warming and the coming ice age. Rather than present doom and gloom, Damon Gameau’s documentary 2040 takes a serious, yet optimistic tone to this global crisis.
Gameau’s approach is to travel the world and find individuals and communities who have discovered and developed new ways of reducing our carbon footprint. He then poses the question, if we were to adopt these practices, what would the world look like in the year 2040, when his daughter reaches adulthood.
“…travel the world and find individuals and communities who have discovered and developed new ways of reducing our carbon footprint.”
His first stop is in Bangladesh, where a small community has created a self-sustaining economy with solar energy. Many families have purchased solar panels mounted on the roof of their modest homes. Energy is collected and powers the house. Any excess energy is then stored in batteries. Not everyone can afford solar panels, so homeowners are now able to sell the electricity they collected to their neighbors. Rather than build a large power plant, these towns create a “micro-grid” network that connects these homes and effectively and sustainably powers the entire village.
Next, Gameau tackles the subject of transportation and touts the benefits of electric, driverless cars. He shows were the technology stands today by taking a ride and handing the car’s controls over to a computer. He then takes the bold step of walking in front of the moving vehicle. The ultimate goal is for everyone to give up their cars and replace them with this automated ride-sharing technology. He cites Los Angeles as an example as a high percentage of the city’s land is dedicated to parking lots and roads. By pulling cars off the road permanently, that means parking lots can be converted to affordable housing along with a dramatic drop in fossil fuel emissions.
"…friendly, bright tone—not nightmare-inducing at all."