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June 2, 2020

Film review: “Planet of the Humans” takes on the environmental movement

Timed to the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the documentary is screening for free on Michael Moore's YouTube channel

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“Planet of the Humans” was released recently for free on YouTube on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It’s expected to be available for free for the next few weeks. And it’s causing quite a stir.

The feature length documentary claims that the environmental movement has been completely gobbled up by corporate interests — and that green energy like solar and wind power are far from green.

It’s not something that the environmental movement wants to hear, and some have already expressed outrage over the conclusions made in the film, which was directed by Jeff Gibbs, a longtime collaborator of Michael Moore, the professional pot-stirrer of any and all things.

“Planet of the Humans” can be streamed at Michael Moore’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/MMFlint (click here for direct link to the full film: https://youtu.be/Zk11vI-7czE).

And in its first week of release, it has been viewed 3.5 million times, according to a press release from Moore’s new Rumble Channel.

The documentary has lots of footage from environmental announcements from such folks as Michael Bloomberg, Al Gore and others. We see “green” celebrations where folks onstage announce that the entire event is being powered by solar and other green energy, to the roar of crowds. But then Gibbs goes backstage and discovers that the event is hooked up to the electrical grid.

We see celebrations of the GM’s new all-electric car, the Volt, and see it at a charging station. And then Gibbs asks what’s powering the charging station? The answer is coal.

At 8 p.m. CDT on Friday, May 1, Moore, Gibbs and producer Ozzie Zehner will host a livestream Q&A on Moore’s YouTube channel and on his Facebook page to discuss the film.

They released it directly to the public because they thought it would resonate in this time of the coronavirus pandemic, when many of us are confined to our homes and thinking about how humans and their behaviors affect our ecosystems.

“This movie takes no prisoners and exposes the truth about how we have been led astray in the fight to save the planet, to the point where if we don’t reverse course right now, events like the current pandemic will become numerous, devastating and insurmountable,” Moore says.

But not everyone agrees with Moore’s assessment. Josh Fox, who made the anti-fracking documentary “Gasland,” has urged that the “Planet of the Humans” be removed from the internet and called it “shockingly misleading and absurd.” He and other scientists contend that the movie “trades in debunked fossil fuels industry talking points” about the affordability of solar and wind energy.

Such criticisms are to be expected when it comes to Moore-backed documentaries, the most notable of which was “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

As for “Planet of the Humans,” director Gibbs doesn’t offer much alternatives to the environmental movement, but points out that if we’re aware of what’s going on, we might be better able to face the future. He also interviews various scientists who suggest that we humans are simply multiplying too fast and using up Earth’s resources.

All of these points have a place in our current discussions about pandemics and the future of the human race — and of the planet. The new documentary doesn’t paint a rosy picture. So if you’re in a pandemic funk, you might want to steer clear.

Then again, sticking one’s head in the sand doesn’t usually work well in the long run.

Charles Ealy
Charles Ealy
Charles Ealy is a former movies editor for The Dallas Morning News and Austin Americaan-Statesman.

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