Beyond the Rants of Michael Moore

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Mr Montpetit from La Présentation is aware of the flaws of Michael Moore’s film « Planet of the Humans ».  However, he wishes to go beyond the sensationalism of the film.

Beyond the Rants of Michael Moore

I just watched the film Planet of the Humans from director Jeff Gibbs and producer Michael Moore (1) Controversial is a euphemism! Those who wish to understand why climate deniers are so happy, should take a look at the critiques in the links below (2). However, as I do not wish to fall into the extreme polarization which characterizes American politics, I will try to bring out the positive aspects of this rant.

If the central message, is that renewable energies are not  »THE » solution which will permit us to preserve our present way of life, this film is useful. Unfortunately, the film gives the impression that renewable energies are as bad for the environment as fossil fuels. Even if they are far from being perfect, solar and wind energies have an ecological footprint far lower than fossil energy; the film neglects to clarify this.

The film raises several important points. Replacing coal with the use of biomass (synonymous here with deforestation) to produce electricity is denounced as nonsense. I agree! This has nothing to do with an intelligent use of our forest products. We need trees to sequester carbon, not to produce so-called ‘renewable’ electricity. It is also correct to raise the point that ethanol (whether produced with corn or sugar cane) is not a ‘renewable’ source of energy; using fossil energies, nitrogen fertilizers and good arable land to produce agricultural products to feed combustion engines is not terribly rational!

Gibbs is right to emphasize the fact that renewable energy cannot replace all the energy of fossil origin which we currently use in industrial countries. Electric vehicles can be useful to reduce our carbon footprint. But in the long term, we must limit the use of the personal vehicle and steer towards the number one option which is an efficient mass transit system.

Technological solutions like carbon sequestration on a grand scale will never fix the climate change. Gibbs and Moore should have tackled problems like population explosion and over consumption. The unsustainable exploitation of the planet’s resources, whether using fossil or renewable energy, will only increase the climate change problem in the long term.

It would have been necessary to denounce the fundamentalist doctrine of the unlimited growth of the GDP(gross domestic product) because there can be no infinite growth on a finite planet. As Quebec’s well-known economic commentator Pierre-Yves McSween writes, we must ask ourselves if we really need all the gadgets which the advertising firms would like to sell us. (3) Do I really need the latest model of the iPhone which Apple and its shareholders want me to buy? Could the iPhone which I purchased six months ago still fulfill my needs? Each unnecessary purchase wastes the limited resources of the Earth. Worse yet, programmed obsolescence of many products aggravates the problem.

Earth Overshoot Day which fell on the 27th of December in 1974, is now advanced to the 3rd of August. After the 3rd of August of each year, the world economy lives on credit! That means that the world population behaves like a compulsive consumer who wants everything that ads offer; his credit cards, credit margins, personal loans and mortgages are pushed over the limits. The environmental mortgage of consumerism grossly overestimates the target of long term sustainable development. In a not-too-distant future, the 7.6 billion humans will face “bankruptcy” if we cling to the doctrine of economic growth at all cost.

We must face the fact that we are not the masters of the universe, we are merely a part of it. Human arrogance no doubt took its root in the biblical injunction “…to go forth and multiply. Take dominion of the Earth….” (4) With 7.6 billion humans, the planet is full to overflowing and we dominate it like spoiled brats who have a tantrum if they can’t have all the treats they see in the store of planetary “toys”! Moore and Gibbs should have developed this theme!

Gérard Montpetit

June 1, 2020

Film de Michael Moore (avec sous-titres en français)


or on an alternate site. 






3] En as-tu vraiment besoin? Par Pierre-Yves McSween, Édition Guy Saint-Jean, 2018, 375 pages

4] Genesis 1-28