At the Precipice of Catastrophic Climate Change?

Some thoughts on what it will take for us to change our nature and try to prevent catastrophes instead of reacting too late with too little.

Consider the 2008 remake of the film "The Day the Earth Stood Still."

Klaatuís last words, ďAt the precipice we change.Ē

In this remake of the original 1951 film, the threat of Global Warming has replaced nuclear annihilation. The message being that the aliens will defend the continued habitability of one of the few such planets in their universe when they conclude we humans are on a path to environmental destruction. That therefore we must be eliminated to save the planet.

Conservative reviewers were annoyed that the nuclear war danger was replaced with global warming, and put the film down for supposedly saying "Go Green or Die." Actually, the film says "Since we believe you won't change, you must be sacrificed to save the rest of life on the planet." Fortunately, in this film a very logical Nobel Prize-winning Professor Barnhardt (John Cleese, of Monty Python fame.) persuades Klaatu (Keanu Reeves) to re-consider, since the aliens own species only changed when faced with destruction, and that maybe humans too can change at the brink. The professor then advises Helen, the beautiful scientist (Jennifer Connelly) to use her self, not logic, to emotionally persuade Klaatu. Presumably, this can work since Klaatu is an alien in a man's body. Yea! Earth is saved and as a bonus, Keanu Reeves who after all is a robotic actor anyway, exits!

However, the alien's bargain is that all electrical and carbon based energy is eliminated. My guess is that hydraulic and mechanical power might be allowed.

The Crucial Scene:†† (Helen takes Klaatu and the Jacob to the home of the physicist who specializes in the evolutionary basis of altruism.)

Klaatu: †††††††††††††††††††††††† (appreciating Bach) Itís beautiful.

Professor:†††††††††††††††††† So we are not so different after all.

Klaatu:††††††††††††††††††††††††† I wish that were true.

Meanwhile: †††††††††††††† (The US government and military tries to open Gort, the giant robot, which releases the replicating insects that start eating humans and all our products.)

The Professor: †††††††† There must be alternatives. You must have some technology that can solve the problem.

Klaatu:††††††††††††††††††††††††† Your problem is not technology. The problem is you. You lack the will to change.

Professor:†††††††††††††††††† Then help us change.

Klaatu: †††††††††††††††††††††††† I can not change your nature. You treat the world as you treat each other.

Professor:†††††††††††††††††† But every civilization reaches a crisis point eventually.

Klaatu:††††††††††††††††††††††††† Most of them don't make it.

Professor:†††††††††††††††††† Yours did. How?

Klaatu:††††††††††††††††††††††††† Our Sun was dying. We had to evolve in order to survive.

Professor:†††††††††††††††††† So it was only when your world was threatened with destruction that you became what you are now.

Klaatu:††††††††††††††††††††††††† Yes.

Professor: ††††††††††††††††† Well, thatís where we are. You say we're on the brink of destruction, and you're right. But it's only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve. This is our moment. Don't take it from us. We are close to an answer.

Klaatu: †††††††††††††††††††††††† (Pauses and then goes outside to see the military coming for him. They get ready to flee, suggesting that he now may want to get to his ship and maybe save humans.)

Beautiful scientist:†† (To the professor) He can't get caught. What do I do?

Professor:†††††††††††††††††† Change his mind. Not with reason, but with yourself.

Beautiful scientist:†† (Kisses the professor's cheek and rushes off with Klaatu and the boy Jacob.)

Final Scene:††††††††††††††† (Seeing the boy and scientist about to be consumed by the alien insects, Klaatu is moved to try to save them.)

Beautiful scientist:†† Help him, please.

Klaatu:††††††††††††††††††††††††† (Takes the insects into himself.) Your professor was right. At the precipice we change.

(Moved by the beautiful scientist and young fatherless boy to feel for humans, Klaatu decides at the last moment to stop the destruction and save humanity, but only with the elimination of electricity and fossil fuel power.)

†(The destruction stops and Klaatu leaves earth behind, without lights.)


"The fate of mankind must not be left in the hands of robots turned into people or people turned into robots." Fidel Castro: Seven Daggers at the Heart of the Americas, 8/6/09

Walter Teague 3/8/10.

Some additional thoughts on the precipice:

Seems we are on the precipice of catastrophic climate changes. Will we do what is necessity to try to prevent C3? Will we meet the challenge of organizing a public and political movement sufficient to do so. One of the major human difficulties, besides the political, economic and military barriers, is our seeming inability to act before crises, even the ones we see coming such as Katrina, Haiti, Tsunamis, etc.

Consider that the two versions of the film classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" are selling well on Amazon.

In the original 1951 film "The Day the Earth Stood Still," the aliens warn us, don't take your destructive ways to space or we'll fry your planet! Well the thousands of atomic rockets remain and the outcome is still uncertain.

In the new 2008 revised and more confused version of the same story, the alien decides at the last minute to let humans live, but removes electricity and presumably all carbon based energy. We saved, because a logical professor, a beautiful woman and a little boy persuade the alien that "Your professor was right. At the precipice we change."

While these are just movies, I'm left wondering what percentage of the viewers got the message, even if garbled and Hollywood-ish?

Are we at the precipice? Perhaps. Will we change enough not to push ourselves over the edge? Perhaps.

My question remains, what can we do to facilitate this alleged capacity to change in face of a real precipice?

Walter Teague 3/14/10