Planet of the Humans leads with the piercing question: “How long does the human race have?” Clips of interviews with members of the public follow. Answers are scattered across the board. Some say 10 years; others say a million.
Filmmaker Jeff Gibbs wraps that question around the status of the environmental movement and calls into question alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power. Gibbs, the director, writer, and producer of the documentary, says, “I began to ask myself, quite a while ago, why aren’t we making progress? Why aren’t things getting better?”
“The answer was that the environmental movement is misdirecting us into oversimplified solutions that won’t work,” says Gibbs.
Planet of the Humans will be the featured film on Sept. 25 during the opening night gala of the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival in Palm Springs. The film festival, like many events, had to pivot after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the festival to change dates and adopt a virtual platform due to restrictions on theaters and indoor activities.
The film festival will run until Oct. 4, allowing viewers to pick and choose over a two-week period from more than 250 films from 37 countries, including 61 making their world premiere.
Wind farms are brought under question as an alternative energy source in the film.
Gibbs’ first film made its world premiere on April 21, amid the beginning of pandemic lockdowns and on the eve of Earth Day. Available on documentary filmmaker Michael Moore’s YouTube channel, Planet of the Humans reached millions of viewers within the first few weeks of its release. Gibbs estimates upwards of 12 million people have now seen the film, and is excited to bring the film to a Palm Springs audience through AmDocs.
“I think so many people are so well-meaning, and rightfully upset about climate change, and yet,” Gibbs explains, “we don’t really want to know that this fantasy – that green energy is going to save us – isn’t true.”
Making the film was difficult because it involved questioning those already on his side of the climate change debate, Gibbs says. In his quest to unravel the illusion of green energy, Gibbs speaks with Al Gore, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Vandana Shiva in the film.
Originally from Flint, Michigan, Gibbs has known Moore since high school. Gibbs first collaborated with Moore on Bowling for Columbine, which led to his role as co-producer on Fahrenheit 9/11.
Jeff Gibbs (center) collaborated with Michael Moore (left) on Bowling for Columbine, which led to his role as co-producer on Fahrenheit 9/11.
Planet of the Humans explains climate change is a problem society has known about since the 1950s, when air pollution became so severe it hazed up skies, reminiscent of current weather conditions throughout the state of California. “All the solar panels, wind turbines, and electric cars in the world couldn’t save us, to me, even in theory,” says Gibbs.
The problem, Gibbs says, is that the green movement has been overtaken by the interests of corporate America. It also debunks the myth that biomass is a renewable energy source, bringing audiences to a protest led by students at Michigan State University in the film.
The film’s screening in Palm Springs couldn’t be more timely amid record-high temperatures and the worst fire season California has seen. In the Coachella Valley, temperature records have been broken an unprecedented eight times this year alone.
Is there a solution to our current climate crisis? “I think we have to redesign society, so we’re all consuming less,” says Gibbs. Redesigning our culture of consumerism would be a start, he says, so we can live more in balance with what our planet can support.
“My hope comes from the fact that we are clever, we are smart, we can be very empathetic,” says Gibbs. “We could redesign society to use way less resources.”
Ozzie Zehner exposes the adverse effects of supposedly “clean energy” in the film.