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Skip the movies, and avoid a real-world apocalypse

October 24, 2009
A fictional apocalypse, or real-life natural disaster? Photo courtesy of www.geekologie.com

A fictional apocalypse, or real-life natural disaster? Photo courtesy of http://www.geekologie.com

I rarely go to movies, but as the country has settled into autumn, I’ve recently joined the crowds escaping the rain and cold by spending my evenings vegging out to several flicks. One thing seems unavoidable each time I visit the theatre: the incredible onslaught of previews for apocalypse-themed movies that hits the audience just as we’re dunking our hands into our over-priced popcorn. Regardless of whether the film you’re about to see is a child’s film, a horror flick, or a political thriller, the ads remain the same, capturing our interest with tales of vampires (who, it seems, have sweeped the nation with a re-found–or perhaps it was never lost–love for lust and blood. Thanks Stephanie Meyer) or environmental catastrophe or an epic, adventurous love story about the last woman and man alive after a terrible virus wipes out the rest of the human race. They are dark and ominous, and give the audience little hope to ride out another drizzly weekend evening.

Such stories are unsurprising given the current state of the world, in which our headlines are filled with the all-too-real doom and gloom of a downtrodden economy, hundreds of wars and conflicts, climate change, human rights abuses, flood and tornadoes, and the seemingly ever-present threat of our world being nuked to bits (isn’t the Cold War over yet?). Oh yeah, and swine flu, a epidemic perfectly suited for a cinematic masterpiece (a life-threatening virus from a pig that preys on the young, the old, the pregnant, and sometimes the unsuspecting and perfectly healthy 20 something? Yeah, that’s right. Ever seen “Outbreak”?). But even though I understand the timeliness of such films, I can’t understand their popularity. I recoil from such films, for to me, they are simultaneously perfectly realistic, hitting on the things that we fear most–war, famine, vast environmental destruction to the point of the Earth being recognizable, and the end of the human race–while at the same point being just a little beyond reality to fit into “non-fiction.” Most realistic, and also most terrifying, is that most of these films–with the exception, of course, of vampire flicks–have to do with environmental decay and it’s impending consequences, a topic on many (but not enough) tongues these days. I watch these previews in despair, believing all too much that the apocalytpic two and a half minute preview predicting the destruction of everything beautiful in this world (except for the love of our two beautiful leads, rest assured) will not be featured on the silver screen come the next century, but will rather feature prominently in our successors lives. And I think: climate change is real and it is happening and we’re all sitting here, widening our carbon foot print by drinking coke through plastic straws and using electricity, idling our minds with what we hope will remain fiction.

So I have decided that tomorrow, instead of taking my place with thousand of theatre-goers across this country, I will join what I hope will be hundreds of thousands across the world taking action against climate change. Tomorrow, October 24th, is the International Day of Climate Action, with marches and other events taking place across the globe. The coordinated actions, called upon by 350.org, will help to highlight the concerns of the world’s citizens asking for policy makers to take the necessary measures to keep such stories mere fantasy. Actions are taking place from Dhaka, Bangladesh to Badhan, Somalia to Ashland, OR. I call on you to join us, and escape your usual Saturday ritual to do something to stem the tide of a possible real apocalypse. Go to http://www.350.org for information on why climate change matters and to find an action taking place near you.

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