Climate change is a real thing that is starting to become more scary than it ever was as the warning signs Al Gore boasted about in his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. It always seems that whenever the subject comes up in conversation, there’s always some attack of character meant to discredit and redirect the conversation. How can we take climate change seriously, they ask, when we have to hear about it from politicians, actors, and privileged children? It’s a ridiculous argument to not think critically of this issue, shooting the messenger before even letting the message be read.
Planting Earth Week is a short documentary that aims to show climate change’s concerns from those on the ground level. The people present in this picture are not going before congress to ask for reform or starting up petitions to submit for a cleaner impact on the environment. They’re long past that point. The activists, having been fighting this war for the longest time, are realizing that it’s not enough to simply call for reform amid a system that is designed to shutter it so effortlessly.
Of the efforts by the protester, the film picks up with them staging a blocking of traffic in early 2020. As they do so, the protesters are approached by one citizen with something to say. The passerby shakes his head, admitting he agrees with their message but states their actions will not bring about any change. He mentions that nobody will remember the message of their protest but everybody will remember being late for work. Aside from the protester’s calm demeanor in explaining how this is becoming the last resort, this conversation does speak volumes about just how effective climate change activists can be in the world. What more can they do to gain attention? Petitions? Fundraisers? Special events? Writing congressmen? When will the rest of the general public finally take this matter as seriously as the activists?
The answer may unfortunately be never as such peaceful protesters face continual confrontations with the police in New York. So the activists continue onward, hoping they’ll be heard and that an environment will still be left for the next generation. One activist, in particular, has a young son who acts as inspiration to keep moving forward, no matter how daunting stressing heavy climate change reform may be. He may not succeed but he can at least rest a little easier with the values he stresses.
There’s a bittersweet edge to this documentary when it reaches the inevitable point of addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. The activists speak with impression and intrigue that the shutdowns have led to a lack of human usage in energy and emissions. That’s good news but it won’t last forever. As one activist puts it bluntly, we can’t wait to forget environmental factors when they’re not right in front of us.
Planting Earth Week doesn’t spend too much time digging into the specific data of climate change which could partly be that there’s so much of it. Another factor to consider is that so much information on this dire situation has been present that it almost redundant to reiterate at this point what we already know, unless you’re a climate change denier in which case nothing will ever convince you. What such a documentary showcases is just how tough this fight will be and how the work of activists is long from over, even with the temporary changes to life brought about by the pandemic.