Anthropocene

Piles and piles of elephant tusks line the landscape with fire burning behind them. Ponds of neon green chemicals create spotted patterns across the desert. Oceans of nearly incomprehensible size are laced with plastic. 

Humans have altered and affected nearly the entirety of the natural environment, much of which is irreversible and permanent. Even processes such as the atmosphere, water, biosphere, geology and more have been affected by human activity. 

These changes to nature, caused by human alteration and are supported by overwhelming evidence, are referred to as the Anthropocene. In the shocking new documentary, “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch,” a group of scientists investigates the effects humans have on the planet, and what this damage could mean for the future. 

“Anthropocene: The Human Epoch,”released Sept. 25, was directed by Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky. This documentary is a compilation of decades of environmental research, the hard work of international scientists and the efforts of a film crew dedicated to exposing the vast, ugly and profound changes humankind has imprinted all over the world. 

This film is intended to open eyes, and have viewers realize that most of the natural damage humans inflict on the Earth is not limited to just visible areas. Even in remote places like the bottom of the sea floor, or mines deep within the Earth’s crust, the original state of the planet has been altered.

This film is notable for three main reasons: the modern film techniques and visual scale, the breadth of research and the partnership of art and science.

Through its mix of drone footage and close shots, this film is stunning. 

It takes the viewer to far off places in China, Russia, Australia and more, that look reminiscent of an ‘80s dystopian movie and then reveals the damage to be happening in real time. It forces people to look at the environmental consequences of human action. 

Some of the destruction featured in this film is the barrier reef being nearly dead, concrete sea walls in China choking the natural landscape, Russian mines draining the Earth of minerals and the biggest human-made machines of all time.

The research that went into the presentation of this film is beyond thorough. There are interviews with an elite society of scientists called the Anthropocene Working Group, there are notes and biological samples collected from the Earth hundreds of years ago that were preserved to be compared with similar samples from today. 

The amount of evidence presented by this group of environmental and social scientists cannot be ignored, and has the strength to refute any claims that it is nothing but conjecture. 

Finally, by partnering the humanities and arts with science, a human conscience is pulled off without biased research or swaying facts. This film makes the viewer feel conflicted and guilty merely by enlisting the arts to aid in the presentation of facts that illustrate the environmental devastation that can be blamed completely on humans. And therefore, it will stick with the viewer for a much longer time. 

This film is worth a viewer’s attention. It bluntly lays out the dangerously damaged state of the Earth and the changes that nature has been forced to endure due to the spreading and encroaching threat of human control. It makes the viewer feel remorse, a need to rally and without swaying from the truth, inspires opinions and realizations. 

culture@dailynebraskan.com