Biomass plant, Williams, California. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.
As a former environmental activist and environmental journalist with a brief appearance in Jeff Gibbs’ film Planet of the Humans—I was the guy trespassing at the biomass facility—I’m blown away by the amount of discussion the film has generated.
POTH brings up a slew of critical environmental issues ranging from ecosystem destruction to species extinction to climate change; the impacts of fossil fuels and limitations of alternative energy; the successes, compromises, and failures of the mainstream environmental movement; and, at the root of it all, our culture’s collective delusion of infinite economic growth on a finite planet. Intriguingly, the film also acts as a kind of Rorschach blot for people to read whatever message they want into it, whether it’s there or not.
On its own, POTH would’ve gotten plenty of attention thanks to its pertinent subject matter, its quality storytelling and production, and the fact that its distributor is Michael Moore’s Rumble Media. But ironically, what’s partly responsible for thrusting the film into global awareness are the attempts of certain mainstream enviros to not simply critique it—as one would hope—but remove it from public view because they don’t like some parts of it. (The most recent example being YouTube taking the film down for 12 days after a photographer—who stated in media accounts that he “doesn’t agree with its message”—objected to Gibbs’ Fair Use claim regarding four seconds of his footage.)