Contrarian documentary Planet of the Humans raised many questions about the potential for renewable energy to meet the energy needs of the future. It made various claims about the manufacturing, installation, operation and end impact of technologies including solar, wind and biofuels. It also looked at environmental groups such as Sierra Club and 350, and suggested that they were duplicitous, ill-informed and aligned with carbon majors. Such claims can be easily debunked, which also explains the producers having used footage from several decades and out of date statistics and technologies in order to mislead.
It does teach an important lesson when approaching the next environmental shift: the importance of scientifically sound approaches that look at the whole life cycle of a system. The vignettes of greenwashing that the film covers illustrate the danger of not doing so, as too, does the flawed evidence that the film presents as to the viability of grid-level renewable energy systems. It is a good thing that corporations and global economies are under pressure to evaluate and make changes to the sustainability of their supply chains. However, this should not be at the cost of robust analysis, both on their side, but equally amongst the public.
One of the biggest fallacies which the film promotes is that we cannot do anything, or that anything we do will be too minute to make a difference. Although we have no silver bullet, we have the individual and collective power to make sustainable choices. It is therefore important to analyse your environmental impact and that of the goods and services you use because ultimately they shape the global economy which over the course of the past two centuries has got us to this point. Change needs to occur at all levels, and we need to consider and implement all viable technologies that can help shape a greener future or as the film puts it humanity will indeed ‘be doomed’.