The Age Of Stupid (2009)

The Age Of Stupid (2009): A Review for How Long We Can Remain Ignorant

The Age of Stupid, a documentary movie, was released in London Leicester Square in 2009. It blazed a trail by launching the movie using solar energy (Brooks, 2009). By a survivor’s eyes in 2055, Fanny Armstrong as the director and writer of the movie provides the audience some evidence for climate change and the consequences of consumerism. This paper primarily aims to provide a little summary of the movie, following the subject matter and underlying criticisms combined with the updated facts and final discussion. 

To begin with a brief mention regarding the movie, the year of 2055 is portrayed as a post-apocalyptic environment era located in the arctic pole, where all the species, knowledge and art of the world is achieved in a gradual process. Based on the portrait of various points in the world of 2055, the chosen centre is indicative of being a place that has the rare signs of life since most of the glaciers have melted, desertification has widened and the temperature of the earth has risen. The audience looks at the past from a computer screen and searches for the answer to why humanity did not stop climate change when they had a chance. The movie displays clips from real news and parts of interviews held with a Nigerian doctor Layefa Malin, the founder of Indian-based GoAir flight company Jeh Wadia, a British wind-farm developer Piers Guy, from Chamonix-Mont Blanc Mountain guides Fernand Pareau and a paleontologists Alvin DuVernay working for the oil company of Shell to discover more oil off the coast of New Orleans.

The movie broadens and enlights the vision of the audience, but also circumcises it. On the one hand, interviews from several locations of the world portray a perspective of the understanding and consequences of climate change. On the other hand, this perspective is limited to inspire activism and restricted in displaying the power of individual change. Piers Guy, who is a scientist and advocate for sustainable energy has faced the resistance of ignorant and conformist British society, declaring that they still believe in climate change. Yet, facts and science have less power than traditions or common sense when it comes to public opinion. As such, it is expected from governments to take necessary actions for bigger impacts. In addition, the documentary is insufficient to project the posture of countries. Do governments actually take necessary actions or do individuals just run away from their obligations and underestimate their power? 

Paris Conference 2015 (the 11th session of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol) has involved 196 parties and 55 countries, which are responsible for %55 of the global carbon emission. Conference has proposed legally binding and nonbinding protocols and referred to a globally shared framework in order to pursue efforts to limit global warming below 2°C and keep the rising temperature closer to the 1.5°C limit (Harvey, 2015). The 1.5°C goal may require zero emissions for 20 years starting from 2030, according to some scientists (Sutter, & Berlinger, 2015). What is the worry about 1 or 2 degrees Celsius of heat, it does not make a difference, one may think? According to NASA, at 1.5°C warming, about %14 of Earth’s population will be exposed to fatal heat waves at least once in every five years. This number will be %37 if the globe gets warmer about 2°C. About 61 million more people in Earth’s urban areas would be exposed to severe drought in a 2°C warmer world than at 1.5°C rising temperature (Buis, 2019).

Despite the clear representation of the severity of the situation in the next 30 years, there is neither a consensus nor a legal force in the global agenda to persuade countries to take necessary actions. For instance, the US is the country that has the biggest carbon emission rate after China. Nevertheless, Donald Trump as the president has declared the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement as noted in his remarks on June 1, 2017. The rationale behind his decision is that the Paris Agreement imposes an unfair economic burden to American citizens, taxpayers, workers in businesses and the fields (Pompeo, 2019). Pompeo, in the same article, stated that the US utilizes all types of energy sources including fossil, nuclear and renewable ones. Yet, it does not share any percentage for their usage and prioritization. As presented in The Age of Stupid, the American lifestyle, the emphasis on the private transportation and President’s share in the gas industry are few of the consumerist and capitalist burdens that may be the reason for Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Conference protocols. 

According to the Oxfam Media Briefing in 2015, it is indicated that “Around 50% of these emissions meanwhile can be attributed to the richest 10% of people around the world, who have average carbon footprints 11 times as high as the poorest half of the population, and 60 times as high as the poorest 10%. The average footprint of the richest 1% of people globally could be 175 times that of the poorest 10%.” In other words, the ignorance of the world leaders and profit-based actions of the world’s richest people would not result in those suffering from the consequences of their actions. A recent World Bank study reports that in the 52 countries assessed, most people live in countries where poor people are more exposed to droughts, floods and heat waves than the average of the population (Hallegatte et al., 2016).

Therefore, it should be recognized that as individuals from Westernized societies, people are responsible not only for their own future but also for the future of the young and poor. From lifestyles to diet preferences, they have to take actions for more sustainability regarding energy, food and waste. For instance, “Fridays For Future” is a noteworthy civil society organisation of climate change advocacy and it especially recognizes and represents the voice of the youth. 

To sum up, The Age of Stupid is a capsule-like documentary for climate change awareness. However, it is not up to date anymore. If people keep themselves negligent and ignorant towards the signs of nature, the next generation will suffer more than any of them living today. Hence, this documentary movie would be beneficial for each person to recommend themselves an awakening regarding the possible future. It would be considered as a reminder of the power of science-based knowledge, of responsibilities in sharing these facts for raising awareness and of becoming a part of a movement. 


Sivil Toplum Okumaları Staj Programı


Buis. A. (2019). A Degree of Concern: Why Global Temperatures Matter. Retrieved from:

Brooks, X. (2009). Smart premiere for The Age of Stupid. Retrieved from:

Gore, T. (2015). World’s richest 10% produce half of the carbon emissions while poorest 3.5 billion accounts for just a tenth. Retrieved from:

Hallegatte, S., Bangalore, M., Bonzanigo, L. Fay, M., Kane, T., Narloch, U., Rozenberg, J., Treguer, D., & Vogt-Schilb, A. (2016). SHOCK WAVES Climate Change and Development Series Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty. Retreived          from: 22787/9781464806735.pdf

Harvey, F. (2015). Everything you need to know about the Paris climate summit and UN Talks. Retrieved from: /environment/2015/ jun/02/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-paris-climate-summit-and-un-talks

Oxfam. (2015). Extreme carbon inequality. Why the Paris climate deal must put the poorest, lowest emitting and most vulnerable people first. Retrieved from:     en.pdf

Pompeo, M. R. (2019). On the U.S Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Retrieved from:

Ratcliff, A. (2014). Hot and Hungry: How to stop climate change derailing the fight against hunger. Retrieved from:

Sutter, J. D., Berlinger, J. (2015). The final draft of climate deal formally accepted in Paris. CNN. Cable News Network, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Archived from the original on 2015-12-12. Retrieved: 2015-12-12.

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