Last chance to save our relationship?
After watching the video, and reading Dr Joe Smith's introduction, let us know what you think about the issues raised by this short film. Add your comments at the end of the article.
Creative Climate short film competition 2011
Finalist: No second chances
Okay wait, wait. Just hear me out. Okay, I know I’ve taken advantage of you for too long. I know I’ve treated you badly. I’ve taken you for granted, I know that now, but I’ve changed. I’ve really changed. This time it will be completely different I promise. Say something!
Okay, you need your independence, that’s fine. I won’t interfere as much. You need your space. It’s good.
I have been too controlling. I’ve been selfish. Please! You’ll be lonely without me. You need me. We’re meant to be together.
(shouts) You’re nothing without me! (sound of birds scattering)
Please! I need you. I can’t live without you. Please! I’m sorry! Give me a second chance!
(sounds of birds in forest as man pounds tree)
No second chances
Ben Goodger, National Film and Television School
The bookshelves are full of lengthy tomes that explore disconnects between people and the planet, but this portrait of a relationship breakdown tells that story in a couple of minutes, inviting viewers to rethink their own priorities.
With the production values of a slick ad., this short film portrays the end of a relationship. The sharp suited business executive stands in the middle of a forest begging his former partner to give him one more chance. As the camera pans out, it is clear that the target of the young man's pleading is a gnarled old oak tree.
Ben chose to explore the ‘environment and economics’ theme for the competition. Environmental economists are trying to find the magic numbers that ensure we value our environment. How much is the Earth worth? Despite the fact that the human economy is entirely reliant on natural systems for its survival, it continues to consume its non-renewable natural capital as if it were a steady flow of income. Current economics fails to count the value of the functioning of oceans, rivers, soils and the atmosphere in household, business and national accounts. How can the fundamental importance of ‘ecosystems services’ for economics be captured?
The UN’s report on the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity TEEB has sought to do just that. It talks about our ‘faulty economic compass that has led us to decisions that are prejudicial to both current well-being and that of future generations. The invisibility of biodiversity values has often encouraged inefficient use or even destruction of the natural capital that is the foundation of our economies’. It shows how bringing the natural world into the national accounts can throw up some surprises: research suggests that bee-keeping generates US$ 213 million annually in Switzerland, global fisheries underperform by US$ 50 billion annually due to over-exploitation and conserving forests avoids greenhouse gas emissions worth US$ 3.7 trillion.
But the film prompts us to think whether even that kind of approach isn’t missing a more fundamental point made by ecological economists and environmental philosophers about humanity being entirely in-and-of the natural world. Philosopher, musician and nature writer David Rothenberg summarises a key perspective in environmental philosophy when he writes that 'The philosopher Martin Heidegger said all we had to do was sing. You might have heard other things about him, good and bad, but remember he did say that the Earth needs humanity in order to sing it into existence, to give it word, name, not substance but story. Much as I too want to sing I can’t quite believe that. The world is wonderful because it doesn’t need me at all, except perhaps to save it from the sum total of human mistake.' (Always the Mountains, 2002, viii). We are deceiving ourselves if we think we can live without the natural world, but Ben’s piece suggests it would get on just fine if we were out of the picture.