The habitability of the planet will change. It is the terrible observation ofOnce you know, directed by Emmanuel Cappellin, released in theaters this Wednesday. For eight years, the documentary maker traveled to the four corners of the world to meet experts and scientists (Jean-Marc Jancovici, Susanne Moser, Pablo Servigne…) to try to understand the ecological crisis we are experiencing.
Humanity is embarked on a process that is beyond itself, but it still has the possibility, as a society, to adapt to the climatic upheavals to come. Emmanuel Cappellin plunges his camera into the privacy of his emotions to connect the viewer to his. Through this sensitive exploration, he offers some keys to help us positively transform the feeling of desolation caused by the environmental crisis. An overwhelming odyssey that has the effect of a big slap (necessary).
Once you know is the first mainstream documentary to talk head-on about collapsology, why did you decide to put the spotlight on this subject?
At the start, I didn’t have the same words to talk about this subject. I started the movie in 2012. It was a movie called Those who know, on climate scientists and energy experts. And it became Once you know. I stopped hiding behind the scientists and started speaking in first person. The second change was reading Pablo Servigne’s book, How everything can fall apart. I said to myself, I must talk about what is going through me, the climatic collapse, which is of the order of the irreversible. Pablo Servigne helped me to put simple words on what I was trying to tell, like “collapse” and “collapsology”, and to assume it in the film.
Are you not afraid that the brutality of the words paralyzes the public, unlike a film like “Demain”, by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent, which had succeeded in creating momentum among the general public?
Anne-Marie Sangla, with whom I wrote and directed the film, invited me to open the end to possibilities. I wanted it to be a proposition, as dotted as possible, to prevent the viewer from immediately attaching to a solution. There is no solution. As we live in a globalized system, we cannot move the problem elsewhere, so we would like to move it into the future. The hope is that others will solve our problems. We have developed a support campaign with a network of animators throughout France who intervene in theaters to collect people and cuddle them. And we centralize this work on the rootsderesilience.org platform. Not to be alone with these questions, it is very important. Are you ruining people’s lives or does everyone know “the king is naked” and we just need someone to say it? For many people, the king has been naked for a very long time. It does them good to know that they are not the only ones to see that the guy is naked.
“We’re going to change the habitability of the Earth, that’s for sure. It will take centuries and we will constantly be in a process of adaptation ”
Your film begins with your own awareness of global warming and its impact on your daily life. Why not have chosen to explore this issue of solastalgia a little more deeply, the psychological distress caused by environmental changes?
This is the narrative arch of the film. I had imagined each protagonist as emotions. Richard heinberg [fondateur du Post Carbon Institute, expert de l’épuisement des ressources pétrolières] for sadness, Saleemul Huq [expert sur l’adaptation et conseiller en négociation au sein du Giec] for healthy anger. Jean-Marc Jancovici [ingénieur et conférencier sur l’énergie et le climat] represents the slap in the head, lucidity, it is not an emotion but a first stage. And Susanne Moser [experte de la montée des eaux et spécialiste de la résilience et de la communication sur le climat au sein du GIEC] is at the same time in the intimate and in the political, it makes a rather brilliant synthesis. It tells the stages through which we go as a society and as an individual with a simplification of the different stages of mourning. An internal conflict that passes through different emotions, with flashbacks, and at times clicks that raise new questions. And this internal conflict, little by little, becomes politicized. We can go through solastalgia, and get rid of it. It’s bigger than this emotion. The need to give emotion a right to quote on a subject often treated in a Cartesian way is the film’s bias.
What is your advice to people who experience this distress, a good anxiolytic?
I don’t take any! I have no advice, I tell my story … The bond with the other on a daily basis, not to live things alone, it is important. We must both dramatize and de-dramatize. All spiritual traditions encourage us to embrace our vulnerability and to die conscientiously. On a daily basis, we live our mortality very well because we live in denial. Today, we feel that our great emancipatory project, modernity, on which all our humanist ideals are based, is in the process of breaking down. But it is not impossible to accept that we are at the end of the civilizational cycle. As long as we’re not dead, we’re alive. There are daily choices, in the bonds that we maintain or not, of solidarity or not. How do we project ourselves? This question makes me want to give my all even if it messes up. Because, indeed, it will probably screw up. We’re going to change the habitability of the Earth, that’s for sure. It will take centuries and we will constantly be in a process of adaptation. How will this adaptation be done collectively? How do you avoid completely slipping? Avoid the unmanageable and manage the inevitable.
You give the example of Bangladesh to show a future other than that of chaos described by certain collapsologists, how do you see the coming years?
Bangladesh shows people who are already experiencing climatic disasters. We are not in the series at all The collapse of Canal + where man is a wolf for man. People live with great dignity. Humans are extremely resilient animals who adapt under duress. But there is a limit to adaptation and we go elsewhere, that raises the political question of human movements. Bangladesh is an important turning point in the film. It allows us to get out of Western navel-gazing. What is a meltdown for us is the daily life of millions of people on Earth.
How did you receive the last IPCC report unveiled this summer?
We are in a sort of great Greek tragedy. Modern oracles are the climatic models, contemporary sibyls are scientists, sort of prophets of doom in charge of saying: “This is what the oracle told us”. And we, with this information, want to change our destiny. But, we are in a geological process that is beyond us. What is important is how we live with this reality. The climate is much bigger than us.
“As Jean-Marc Jancovici would say, it’s difficult to have a calm discussion when everyone is hungry”
You seem to totally buy into this collapsing narrative, what about?
I agree with the story according to which we are heading towards an energetic descent, whether it is because we will have to divide the available energy between more people and activities, or because there will be a real constraint on the supply. energetic. There are already constraints on the supply and I think it will be fine as it grows. There is an element of personal conviction because no one knows the future. On the rest, I speak rather of erosion. On the other hand, I am talking about climate collapse because we are moving towards a new climate standard. We are in the process of closing the parenthesis, which is called the Holocene, in which we experienced this incredible flowering. We will not live in the same way in the centuries to come, an increase of 1 ° C is a significant decrease in agricultural yields, in centers of agricultural production like India. We are in the process of changing the agricultural production zones in the world. As Jean-Marc Jancovici would say, “It’s hard to have a calm discussion when everyone is hungry. “
The release of the film comes at the start of the electoral campaign, is it an issue for you to force the debate to take up these questions?
Not at all, I have no illusions. If the topic integrates the debate in one way or another, so much the better. It’s great that people are going green. Today, it is one of the main concerns of the French, it is unprecedented. We will perhaps see an ecological government tomorrow, and go towards even more extreme forms the day after tomorrow, the famous Green Khmers, the ecotyrannics … We can go in a direction which requires a collective war effort to avoid disaster. To take a whole country, you have to promise something. We are exposed to a huge backlash because we will not be able to keep our promises. People will have been mobilized thanks to a vision of hope, with small gestures or large gestures, and in the end, it will have screwed up.
Is there nothing more to do?
What we are going to do is absolutely insufficient but necessary. To say: “We are going to shit, that will not be enough, and that is our project”, it is not a very fertile political speech. We must expand. It is not only a question of climate, it is also a question of adaptation to an energy descent. It is interesting for the French to prepare for an energy descent that will impose itself on them, to put in place things that give them an advantage of adaptation if we want to use Darwinian terms. What will this green wave bring? Doesn’t it risk causing a huge decline in disappointment from a public to whom we had told, with ecology we will get by?
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