I can hear the groans already. Another dire planetary warning documentary about global warming? Haven’t we had enough of those already?
It doesn’t take a fool to figure out that the climatic catastrophes that have pummeled our planet in recent years are our own doing. It only takes a fool to make a misguided point that we’re not guilty. Massive wildfires, unstoppable flooding, Hurricanes Katrina, Irene & Sandy, the melting of polar ice caps, the biggest drought since the Dust Bowl, huge forest fires, and other “natural” disasters that, we are told from the get-go in this provocative production, were all preventable.
Laid out in a step-by-step, talking-head-and-overpowering-video with archival footage, approach, climate control is what Planet Earth has been screwing up, and now we are paying the price. How long can we survive this in-your-face, in-your-backyard attack on ourselves?
Horrified homeowners in Colorado tell of a mountain fire that began on June 23, 2012, sending massive plumes of smoke that block the skies and then rampaging flames that raced into their neighborhood. Footage of their houses ablaze intersperse comments that these folks were totally convinced, falsely, that their residences were safe. This is just one result of the changing ecosystem, and producer-director Craig Scott Rosebraugh, executive producer Daryl Hannah, and their support crew never let up with the urgency of the global situation. The numbers don’t lie. The planet is warming. The worse is at hand. The worst is yet to come.
And the filmmakers wonder aloud, Why didn’t we take action? We had warnings more than a half-century ago that the overuse of cheap fossil fuel might wreak unknown havoc. 25 years ago the warnings, in government hearings, laid out the cause-and-effect problem unravelling the climate’s stability. And all the time the alarm bells were ignored, thanks mostly to the oil industry’s well-financed, all-too-convincing hired guns spouting lies. Deny. Deny. Deny. Over and over. “Charlatans,” one of the upset scientists calls these people. “Doubt is way easier to sell.”
Some of the film’s focus is that mankind is now being spanked for its laziness. The knowledge is ever-growing. Too warm? Yes. Too much erosion? You bet. Too much carbon dioxide in the air? Absolutely. Like last year’s “Chasing Ice” or 2004’s “The Disappearing of Tuvalu: Trouble in Paradise” the point about our melting polar caps and rising sea levels is easy to make.
And just as easy for the numbskull naysayers to refute.
The mega-energy corporations, like their tobacco counterparts, were sued in 2008. George Monbiot, an environmental journalist, talks of the fake grass roots organization Big Oil and the cigarette conglomerates set up to plead their “selling doubt” campaigns. If you’ve supported the ideals of the ‘Global Climate Coalition” or “Americans for Clean Coal Electricity,” you’ve been mesmerized into believing the industry falsehoods.
Ah, and most of the film’s sarcastic narration (and occasional guerrilla interview techniques) by Rosebraugh flavors a less-bombastic Michael Moore, the muckraking director who has apparently stopped believing he can change public opinion when the world refused to fix the problems he documented in 2009’s “Capitalism: A Love Story.”
The conservative fossil fuel billionaire Koch Brothers—David and Charles—get most of the filmmakers’ attention, as their Koch Industries (‘The biggest company you’ve never heard of’) is very protective of its businesses (80% of their products are in American homes), and use the well-funded Americans for Prosperity and its political brother, the Tea Party, to promote their agenda—a fact (per Congressman Henry Waxman) that is well hidden from the public. Waxman calls them “organs of propaganda.” Exx0nMobil’s hand in the world’s mess also comes under massive dramatic fire for its multi-million dollar ‘contributions’ to denial organizations. For the filmmakers, it’s amazing the narrow minded, anti-climate change publicity generated by numerous truth-refuting spokespersons, think thanks, lobbyists, oil-state congressmen and senators (especially Oklahoma’s James “global warming is the greatest hoax” Inhofe), Mitt Romney, the George W. Bush administration, and especially the ever-distorting, mud-slinging, “fair and balanced” Fox News. It’s enough to make you scream. Can’t someone just pull their plug?
Arrows are slung all about the political landscape, including against Citizens United, the conservative filmmaking company that got the U.S. Supreme Court (Clarence Thomas comes under impressively illustrated fire) to vote down 60 years of campaigning finance law. Yes, at least for now, corporations are people and can provide lots of new funding to their causes (and candidates). This world is really screwed up.
“Greedy Lying Bastards” is thorough in its revelations, and thoroughly depressing on how the world has been thwarted in this important attempt to heal itself. The film is intent on putting on notice all the “guilty” parties that deny the dangers of climate change. Because Americans seem so gullible to all these denialists, however, will the small number of people who actually watch this extraordinary exposé, and even the smaller number whose minds are changed enough to act to change the status quo, ever be able to battle what seems like this planet’s final losing battle? Future generations, no doubt, will be pissed at us for not acting now. As mankind wonders about life on other planets, maybe it’s finally time to decide if we’ll actually be able to survive on this one.