Documentary Review: “Planet of the Humans,” “Michael Moore presents” an Earth Day downer


Releasing “Planet of the Humans” on Earth Day is either an epic piece of “bad timing,” or a solitary act of defiance in the face of everything and everyone this environmental documentary opposes.

Let’s lean towards the latter. Because on a day we’ve celebrated for 50 years as “The Beginning of the End of Pollution” (the first PR campaign tag) and a signature moment when environmentalism went mainstream, maybe what we need is a good, hard shake out of our complacency.

As the Earth takes a deep breath in the COVID19 enforced collapse of fossil fuel use, here’s a movie that goes after the villains still among us — Big Oil, Big Energy, the Koch Brothers, but also the Sierra Club, environmental icon Bill McKibben,, Richard Branson, Michael Bloomberg and Al Gore.

But but but…say WHAT now?

Michigan filmmaker Jeff Gibbs (backed by Michael Moore) posits that environmentalism has become something of a religion to much of the culture. And “our religion” has been co-opted by capitalism. We’re being led by false-prophets looking to increase tangible profits.

We’ve been sold a three card monte game that’s convincing us that magic bullets are just lying around, ready for government policies and government subsidies, to save us from ourselves. Solar? Wind? Short-term band-aids that aren’t pushing down fossil fuel use in the least.

Worst of all, this “green” energy that all the college kids, protesting for their universities to invest in after they DIVEST from oil, gas and coal — “bio-mass.”

“That’s burning forests for energy,” Gibbs narrates in between clips of college presidents hosting press events for going green (MSU, UNC, and the granddaddy college in this con, Middlebury, Vermont) and Al Gore and others trying to explain or dodge explaining how deforesting the planet will save us from climate change.

Hint. It won’t. When cynical tycoons like Branson (Virgin planes, trains etc.) and Bloomberg push it, it’s because they’ve got ground-floor investment cash tied up in timberland, government leaders willing to log forests for “wood chips” and communities lined up for “BioMass” plants, an energy fad that entails burning energy to harvest and cut down trees, and set them on fire, along with old tires, trash and other toxic wastes.

It’s our “industrial capitalist” system which is the real enemy, as Koch Brothers investment tentacles reach into every stage of “green” energy, just as surely as they back Keystone Pipelines and fracking subsidies as well.

When they own Georgia Pacific, why should we be shocked that they’re pushing for new biomass power plants? And if capitalism’s cash can get to the likes of Gore and McKibben, where will the moral authority of environmentalism move to?

Where is the Green Gandhi? Is she named Thunberg?

Gibbs, who has been on this green beat for years, is something of a monotonous on-camera interviewer — just persistent enough to come off as “dogged.”

But as he mows down the sacred cows of the Green Left — “Planet of the Humans” pummels Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and High Priest McKibben, and just eviscerates the Sierra Club — he makes a fatal filmmaking mistake his mudraker mentor should have steered him clear of.

Where’s the hope? There’s no third act “But here’s what we can do, here’s where people are doing it right.”

After seeing how wind farms are the new “mountaintop removal” energy industry (displacing coal), seeing lively, life-filled deserts reduced to lifeless sand and abandoned solar panels, getting the skinny on how the “German Renewables Miracle,” electric cars, batteries and everything else is more hype than help, we need something to cling to.

This far-ranging (choppy) doc, now on Youtube, lays out the errors in our ways and the capitalists — who range from cynics to charlatans — who are not to be trusted. But its whole “solution/action step” — in rhetorical argument terms — is “We’ve got to get down to the truth, the basic facts” before we can even begin to address this mess.

Population control, consumption control, treading more lightly? Yeah, we know that. We just don’t want to hear it. Yet. Will “Planet of the Humans” open our ears?


MPAA Rating: Disturbing images

Cast: Jeff Gibbs, Ozzie Zehner, Sheldon Solomon, Nina Jablonsky, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Al Gore, Bill McKibben

Credits: Directed by Jeff Gibbs. A Rumble Media release.

Running time: 1:40

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