If you haven’t heard already, the 10:10 movement, who’s aim is to reduce global carbon emissions by 10% per year, released a little promotional video last week. The short film, called “No Pressure,” has been received with enthusiasm, but most of it negative. It’s hard to find anyone online who actually defends the film, in fact. And if you’ve seen it, it’s not hard to understand why; what is hard to understand is what possessed them to produce such a film in the first place.
I’m not going to link or embed the video – a quick search of YouTube will find it if you really want to see it – but for those who haven’t seen it, a quick summary: It opens with a teacher talking to a class about the 10:10 movement. She asks which students’ families will be participating1, then she presses a little red button on her desk which causes the two non-conformists to explode. Very graphically. Next scene shows a boss doing exactly the same to employees at a company meeting. Third scene mixes it up a bit; French footballer David Ginola visits his old team, and they blow him up for not joining them. And it ends with Gillian Anderson, who narrates the film, being blown up in her sound booth after saying she thought that participating in this film was her contribution.
My own first impression was that this must be some sort of parody, produced by some internet group like Funny or Die to make fun of rising ecofascism. And not even a funny one at that. I had to Google2 around a bit before I convinced myself it was actually produced and released by a serious group seeking to reduce carbon emissions.
The backlash the group received has been tremendous; in the latest development, Sony has pulled their support for the 10:10 organization. Sony still intends to cut their carbon emissions by 30% at many facilities by 2015, as part of their own “Road to Zero” global environment plan, but Sony felt it had no option but “disassociating itself from 10:10 at this time.” That’s got to be seen as a blow by the people at 10:10, I’d think.
However, as other bloggers have asked, one big question left hanging is how the hundreds of people involved over months of production failed to anticipate the reaction this video would draw. Perhaps I’m crossing the line into paranoid, but personally, I think they knew exactly what they were doing. I think they fully expected public backlash, though perhaps not quite to this degree, and probably not including withdrawal of corporate sponsors like Sony. I think they released it intending to pull it right back down, confident that nothing could stop it from going viral. Now they get to have it both ways – they publicly apologize and wring their hands and swear they didn’t mean it like everyone, even on their own side, has interpreted it. And they still got to produce it and unleash it on the world, they still get to have everyone talking about it for months.
I’m in the climate skeptic camp myself, but I won’t say that I’m absolutely certain I’m right; I lack the expertise in climatology and carbon science to even begin to be that certain of my own judgment of something this complex, and there are too many very smart scientists on both sides of the fence on this issue for me to just take the word of one or the other. I don’t support large-scale, government-imposed programs to forcibly slash carbon emissions, but if consumers demand it, then companies can profit from delivering, and that’s just good capitalism that nobody could object to3. But if my choice is between gambling the fate of all of humanity on rising carbon emissions and global temperatures, or placing ultimate authority on Earth into the hands of the kind of people who made this film, then I’ll take my chances with global warming, thanks.
1Because elementary-school aged kids always make the decisions for their families. I know I was the head of the household at that age!
2Oh dear, I’ve gone and used the word Google as a verb. I’m hope they don’t sue me. At least I capitalized it, guys!
3Well, nobody sensible.