Planet of the Humans, which was produced by Michael Moore, is an informative,
compelling and disturbing new documentary that currently is available on YouTube
(see links below).
The film has garnered both positive reviews and harsh criticism, but I found it
thoughtful and worthwhile. The film has been an unexpected pandemic hit and over
8 million viewers have already seen it.
Planet of the Humans recently made the news again. It had been temporarily taken
down over a copyright claim over four seconds of footage which the film makers
supposedly did not have the right to use, but both Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs
claimed it was a blatant attempt at political censorship. The film was recently
put back online on June 5.
The film’s director Jeff Gibbs was obviously influenced by the works of his
producer Michael Moore, particularly such films as
Sicko, Roger and Me and
Bowling for Columbine, but that does not mean the two film makers have the same
The basic content could well have been included in a Michael Moore film and like
Moore’s films, this movie uses its director as a first-person narrator. But
Moore used more trick editing and inserted more humorous asides into the
narration of his films, which occasionally deflected from the subject matter. In
contrast, Gibb’s film banter is much more serious, sedate, deadpan and
straightforward than most of Moore’s.
The film’s main argument is that the development of alternative energy sources
alone will not save us from near certain climactic catastrophe, and our
continued belief that new technology will save us is naive.
Initially, the director (who was greatly inspired by Rachel Carson’s Silent
Spring) was a great believer that green energy was a cure-all , but as he
started to investigate it, he started to lose some faith in it.
The film depicts Gibbs going to a pro environmental benefit and found out that
the concert was falsely billed as being run on 100% renewable energy. When he
went backstage, he discovered that only a fraction of the energy for the show
was provided by solar power. Also, when the weather got bad, they had to go
completely back to the same old fossil fuels and energy grid they were allegedly
trying to replace.
Evidently, wind and solar panels are ineffective when there is no sun, they tend
to degrade after about a decade, and their manufacturing requires the heavy use
of traditional fossil fuels. Nonetheless credible critics claim that it is still
less destructive than dirty energy.
Also, the film shows how one of the most touted alternative energy sources,
biomass requires us to cut down large numbers of life and oxygen giving trees.
The films asserts that the same old polluters behind the old energy sources just
found for a new way to make money without significantly diminishing pollution by
merely rebranding themselves as “green.”
Gibbs came to believe that the effectiveness of some of the alternatives has
been exaggerated and they serve as a smoke screen which hides many of the
destructive capitalist/consumerist practices and attitudes that got us in this
mess in the first place. Also, he claims that the green energy movement has
allowed the usual people in power to exploit it to generate wealth instead of
widening the profit net.
Some of the critics of the film rightly argue that some of the evidence in the
film is outdated. A scene which shows firsthand the ineffectiveness of solar
panels dates all the way back to 2008, and there may have been advancements in
that area. Bill McKibbon argues that the film does not bring out how this is
still the cheapest and least environmentally damaging alternative.
Perhaps the most shocking and emotionally devastating visual arguments in the
film occur when we see a forest torn down in the name of development while a
pair of grieving orangutans observe the seeming end of their world, and later a
group indigenous people in Brazil are shown driven off their land while their
houses are being destroyed to further a green project associated with Al Gore.
Gore weakly defends himself when he asserts that progress does not always have
to be that destructive
Although the film has some obvious flaws it is a hard hitting and unflinching
attempt to open our eyes and see the future without blinders on. The film argues
that unless we make radical changes in our lifestyles and dramatically diminish
population growth, personal consumption and climate change, it may be too late
to turn back and the planet will become uninhabitable.
At press time Planet of the Humans can be seen at:
And at the Planet of the Humans web site: