This past weekend I watched Mad Max: Fury Road for I think about the ninth time. Of course, I was struck by the gorgeous cinematography and flawless editing, but more than that I was struck by the landscape. The desert stretched out for miles and although I was comfortably seated on couch and outside my window were hundreds of trees, I felt that all I could see was the desert. Setting aside the problematic fact that the film industry is, in many ways, harmful to the environment and that Mad Max is in no way a truly environmental production, blowing up several cars and trucks in the production process, the film and others like it, can act as guidelines for what could become of the Earth and its resources if we let it.
The film Mad Max essentially reads as a crystal ball for every environmental nightmare of our time. What would happen if the human race were to consume resources at the current rate? Deforestation, water shortage, a strange cult-like attachment to cars, human fighting human in an attempt to secure what precious few resources remain. Despite the film being science fiction, the reality of the situation may not be so far-fetched.
Human have never consumed resources at the current rate or experienced environmental degradation at the current rate. While the production team originally meant to film in Australia, they eventually relocated to Namibia. According to rumors and reports from locals, the production team conducted themselves with very little concern for the environment, ironic due to the subject matter of the film. Some reports say the production team brought in extra sand and glues branches onto already unhealthy trees. However, this aside, the location of the film provides an interesting contrast to American life.
Namibian citizens produce nearly 1/16th of the carbon emissions of Australians or Americans, due largely to the fact that only 34% of Namibians enjoy the amenity of electricity. While it is nearly unthinkable for Americans or citizens of first world countries to relinquish the luxuries to which they are accustomed, the comparison between Namibia and America is an important one. Sustainability is about balance. If we continue to consume, there will be no planet left to consume. While no one necessarily is suggesting Americans give up electricity and running water in favor of living off the land, it would do everyone well to look to other nations that do not experience modern amenities and maybe take note of the way in which they interact with the environment. It would not be so difficult for Americans to become more conscience of their consumption habits and to attempt to change, even a little. If we do not, it is not so difficult to tell where we may be in 10, 15, 50 years. The fiction of film may one day be our reality.