Genre: Documenatary / Climate Change / War
Synopsis: Provocative essay on the causal links between climate change, mass population migrations, and civil war.
Special Features: n/a
“An accelerant to instability, a catalyst for conflict, [and] one of the biggest issues of the 21st century.”
Ostensibly a documentary on climate change, The Age of Consequences augments the rallying cry for proactive and preventative actions by focusing on former military officials who’ve used their experiences in combat and in war-torn regions to draw correlations between radical changes in climate and civil wars in regions that have become arid and infertile.
It’s a perspective that one wouldn’t expect exists in the U.S. military – believing in climate change, tracking modeled scenarios, and drafting proactive maneuvers to handle the effects – but within Scott’s widescreen essay, the military’s investigation of future conflicts stemming from climate models makes sense, especially when there’s a pattern that interconnects the events leading up to the Syrian civil war, or the warring factions in Sudan and South Sudan.
The thesis in Consequences is clear and bleak: impossible living conditions lead to mass migrations, lack of jobs aggravates poverty and kindles human desperation to a degree that attracts ideologues or despots with false promises of better lives if they join their side.
To Scott’s interviewees, climate change is “an accelerant to instability”; the ultimate effects of rising temperatures (melting polar caps, flooding of lowlands, and mass rescues and social needs) are acknowledged, but unlike An Inconvenient Truth (2006), Consequences address the topic with present day crises that remain massively unresolved. The message seems to be that while government officials and scientists spend years attempting to draft, finalize, and sign agreements to which participating nations must adhere, equal efforts, if not more, need to be applied to tackling political and religious divisions, since climate change has a heck of a lead on souring humanity.
(For Americans, perhaps Scott’s most striking inclusion is footage where former Secretaries of State George Schultz, Madeleine Albright, and Henry Kissinger address a Senatorial Committee, making it clear climate change is non-partisan, irreligious, and apolitical; it’s a thing that we created – or enhanced – and is wreaking havoc on societies with insidious patience and precision.)
Scott’s technique has interviewees talking straight to the camera, and words and news pieces are layered between striking, if not exquisite 2.35:1 ‘scope images that distill concepts into singular shots or eerily beautiful slo-mo footage. The arguments are divided into chapters, and Malcolm Francis’ minimalist score shifts between doom and gloom to steady tension.
Consequences is a dour, multi-thematic provocation that seeks to present sound arguments by the least likely of heroes – ex-military – and that’s perhaps the doc’s hopeful message: experience broadens perspective, and knowledge contextualizes crises, enabling possible solution through pro-active measures. The interviewees are frank, articulate, and succinct, and eschewing any sugar-coating, their words and determination are as powerful as the film’s imagery.
The Age of Consequences recently screened at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, and for audiences who missed the director Q&A, my detailed discussion with Jared Scott is available on KQEK.com’s iTunes, Libsyn, and YouTube channels.
Jared Scott’s other films include Requiem for the American Dream (2015), Disruption (2014), and Do the Math (2013).
© 2016 Mark R. Hasan
Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review