Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dirty Business is Lopsided

This is a sobering documentary of the environmental damage coal mines and coal-powered plants are doing to our planet. I've only seen the trailier, but I can't help but feel that this is an extremely lope-sided account of the energy industry and the politics of the economy as a whole. The apocalyptic tone of the documentary does discredit to the other developments in the other energy industries that are struggling to develop new greener technologies and ways to produce electricity.

I am interested in environmental-social issues, but I am not an environmentalist because to be honest the plain reality is that we all - environmentalists included - consume huge amounts of dirty energy, making anyone, including those who blindly and unequivocally damn power companies, party to their pollution.

And while I appreciate some of the mind boggling figures and statistics produced in this film, I find it does disservice to other groups that are trying to promote wider public participation in cleaner consumption and greener lifestyles by scaring the audience into an overwhelming sense of fatalism and abandonment of any efforts to change things.

Don't get me wrong, I still think this is a great film in bringing out the hypocrisies of coal companies claiming to be clean - which is ultimately the main theme of the film. But leaving us all with a sense of impervious dread isn't gonna change anything. Indeed German sociologist Ulrich Beck puts it most artfully in his chapter Risk Society and the Provident State:

"Certainly, hopelessness is ennobling and the advantages of wallowing in superiority, while at the same time being relieved of all responsibility for action, are not to be underestimated"