Planet Earth is under siege. Forests are disappearing, the arctic sea ice is melting, and toxic chemicals are flooding oceans. The perpetrator? Humanity. And time is running out.
This is the view from the latest movie out to get the masses off their asses to save the planet.
The urgently titled flick, "The 11th Hour," which hit theaters nationwide Aug. 31, is narrated by Hollywood sex symbol Leonardo DiCaprio. It also includes appearances by more than 50 prominent environmentalists, such as former Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev, scientist Stephen Hawking and sustainable-design experts William McDonough and Bruce Mau.
Still, the movie's plugs for new technologies - such as renewables and biomimicry -are sure to win favor from greentech junkies.
Greentech Media sat down with Conners Petersen to get her take on the business of staving off our own extinction. Edited conversations with the co-director follow.
Q: How big of a role will technology play in securing our life on Earth?
A: It's everything. Well, I would say first there is a shift in consciousness and awareness in people. But then we need new technology. We need the postindustrial revolution to thrive. We need sustainable technologies that can consider all of life.
Q: As you worked on this film, what technology did you find most promising?
A: Biomimicry is, I think for me, one of the biggest hopes. Nature has been evolving for 2.5 billion years, and it has figured out chemical strategies to live here. We need to understand at a nanomolecular level how nature makes stuff.
Q: There is a new breed of savvy, green investors and entrepreneurs on the rise. What are their biggest market barriers?
A: Change always flies in the face of inertia. All I have is a message to them: All the VCs, all those companies that are thinking new thoughts, go for it, because literally what they can invent might be what saves us all.
Q: Are you concerned that green technologies are too expensive?
A: Well, if we removed the subsidies from oil [and nuclear power] and put them toward renewables it would certainly help. Pricing is really an illusion. Fossil fuels are cheap only because we subsidize them.
Q: Subsidies or not, greentech companies will have to consider their bottom line. How can these companies realistically make money?
A: As resources become more scarce, green and a bottom line that's not in the red are going to be the same. You know you aren't going to be able to produce cheap plastic things anymore because oil is going to be too expensive. So it's all going to mean the same thing.
Q: Where has technology failed the environment?
A: It hasn't considered the environment important. If you took all the ingenuity we have, and applied it to lightening the footprint of humans on planet Earth, we would have solved this 50 years ago. It hasn't been a priority and it needs to be.
Q: Can humanity turn this thing around? Can we save ourselves from our own extinction?
A: It's like adopt or die. What will we say to future generations? "Oh, it was too hard. We were too lazy, we couldn't think creatively enough about it." But you know what? We can do it. We have the technologies. We have the ideas. We are lacking of will, which is shocking.