Gameau’s new film 2040 gives fresh hope – News Report

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Imagine a world where policies were measured through the lens of psychological wellbeing, environmental impact, health, education and gender equality. Consider what life would be like if money wasn’t the defining factor in decision-making, and outcomes were based on principles that actually benefit society as a whole.

Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau sat down with Bhutan political ministers while researching his new documentary 2040.

They do just that.

“I sat there while they discussed mining policies, and they were saying, ‘This is starting to eat into future generations resources, so we need to stop now’,” Gameau told AAP.

Following on from his critically acclaimed documentary That Sugar Film, Gameau once again tackles a serious topic with global warming. But he presents it with a positivity rarely seen in this space.

Based on the premise we are “renting the world from our future generations”, he uses CGI effects to imagine a positive future for his four-year-old daughter, one where past generations have taken climate change seriously.

This world he portrays is not fantasy; every technological advancement he explores exists today.

From Australian farming techniques that draw carbon from the air and into the soil, to Bangladesh communities setting up solar electricity micro-grids, which produce efficient and sustainable power for an entire village. Then there’s seaweed.

“We should rename it seaqueen,” Gameau says.

The fastest growing organism in the world at half-a-metre a day, seaweed takes carbon dioxide out of the water, can be made into bio fuel and plastic, and if fed to cattle can lower their methane emissions by up to 95 per cent.

“We’ve got everything we need right now to stop global warming. It’s do we have the right leadership? The right political will to combat the vested interests?” Gameau says.

“All the things that are blocking it are doing a really good job of blocking it.”

Climate change is not a new topic. Gameau points to the late 1980’s when even conservative leaders like Margaret Thatcher and George Bush Senior understood the gravity of greenhouse gases destroying the planet. Both agreed it was one of the most important issues of our time.

2040 looks at the campaign of denial by fossil fuel companies and the “vested interests” of those who make profit from traditional energy consumption. He likens their strategy to the same playbook the tobacco and sugar industries have used over the years.

But Gameau points to historical cases where the groundwell of activism has overcome the odds.

“Whether you look at the abolitionists in slavery who were all told it was a Utopian idea and the economy could never survive without slaves,” Gameau says.

“Or the women marching for their vote, and all the men told them to get off the streets.”

Gameau likens these reactions to those of current political leaders, who dismissed the concerns of students in recent strikes against climate change.

“After the UN report came out about animals in line for extinction, a friend called me up and said his 12-year-old was just sitting there crying at the breakfast table.”

Global warming is most often represented as catastrophic and hopeless. 2040 hopes to counteract this constant negativity for several reasons.

Firstly, when a constant stream of information is infused with dread, anxiety and fear, it shuts down the prefrontal cortex part of the brain, the part we use to think positively and problem solve. Gameau speaks about this emerging area of neuroscience with an environmental psychologist.

He also wants to reassure future generations “with every fibre in his being” that we can “100 per cent” turn the world around if we mobilise today.

Whether we will, is still up for debate.

* 2040 will screen nationwide in cinemas from May 23. Palace Cinemas are offering free entry for school-aged children during opening weekend.

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