We've been warned. Direct from the silver screen, a hero of a major political party has introduced us to greenhouse gases, global warming and a grim future for our planet. He's shown us the world of tomorrow if we fail to control our apathetic, overpopulated humanity. Will his enlightening film change our habits? Sure, we're innovative Americans, just give us a few years and we'll all be driving economy cars, screwing in fluorescent bulbs, and carpooling -- confident that we're on the way to rescuing our planet.
Maybe our screen-star will eventually swoop down and save us, running for President himself. In a final patriotic debate, he'll deliver a right-hook-knuckle-sandwich of machismo to his competitor ensuring his victory and a healthier tomorrow. He's a shoe-in throughout the red states too promising to green up our blue planet. We'll listen up 'cause we can't bear to suffer the fate he showed us so clearly in his groundbreaking apocalyptic film. Americans are like that: lead us to an issue and we'll light the way towards a better tomorrow. He'll be our single-minded, brave, strong leader - just don't threaten to pull that rifle from his cold dead hands or he might shoot your head off, sending your gray matter back to Columbine, Virginia Tech, or the streets of Iraq. On second thought, Charlton Heston would make a horrifying President. He's a pathetic, loathsome, tuned-out warmonger like Bush; maybe Al Gore will run instead.
By 1973 the world had been awakened to the affects of pollution, overpopulation, and thoughtless consumption. Rivers on fire, soapsuds invading Lake Erie, and acid rain destroying vegetation a world away, shocked the environmental blinders off the complacent public, leaving Hollywood holding the feedbag trying to predict the outcome of continued irresponsible living.
The movie Soylent Green tells the story of a world where population growth is the enemy and misery is inescapable. The film is set in the year 2022. Clean water, food and shelter are as hard to find as privacy in our dirty destiny, where just being born makes you the root cause of the problem.
This is an empty existence where tomatoes are more precious than gold, women are referred to as furniture, and anyone who questions the government is scooped away in a dump truck, never to be heard from again. Leading man Charlton Heston utters the terms "global warming" and "greenhouse gases" for the first time in Hollywood history. He shows the world a terrible tomorrow for a population whose numbers are out of control. Soylent Green is a passion play for humanity's closing act, with a killer Hollywood ending.
Back in the halcyon days of 1973 we were a nation moving forward. Technological advances that would lead us down a cleaner path towards tomorrow fueled optimism. In our Brady Bunch mentality we thought a more accurate vision for the future could be found in Star Trek. Heck, we had just gone to the moon, corruption was being swept out of Watergate-Washington, and "All in the Family" was leading pop culture towards a more forward-thinking social conscience. There would never be another blunder like Viet Nam. We believed we were quickly evolving, but we were dead wrong.
Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is a brilliant prequel to Heston's plausible prediction for tomorrow. Today our faith-based leadership has its head buried in the sand, praying in state sponsored, tax-exempt churches for God to solve our most challenging problems. The Bush administration took the populace under control with the Patriot Act, but has failed to take any leadership on educating the pubic about population control. Bush's blunder over the Kyoto Protocol has made 1973's Sci-fi today's documentary. If we don't do something, our numbers will be controlled with famine, disease, or the end of humanity itself. We will not destroy our planet, only its ability to support human life.
The root cause of all our environmental issues is the sheer number of us that inhabit our globe. Two can be twice as clean as one, and still not gain any ground. Our population has almost doubled since 1973 -- we are well on our way to 10 billion by 2050.
Today's Hollywood isn't leading by example. Scores of upwardly mobile celebrities are having more children, unquestioning of the message they are sending to the world. Hollywood's most golden couples adopt, but still feel the need to replicate their DNA in spite of the realities inherent in exponential birth rates. As society desperately tries to keep up a good face, our schools, health care system, and necessities of life are being cut off for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. It is time once more that terms like "zero population growth", and "birth control" become as common vernacular as "creationism" and "What would Jesus Do".
Everyone has a right to a long, happy life on a healthy, vibrant planet. Until science and technology are given credence by our leaders, it is up to all of us to control our numbers through responsible birth control. Al Gore would agree that it's the planet's best chance.
Don't count on God to bail us out of our blunder. The Pope isn't even on the Earth's side. John Paul II set the precedent against science 25 years ago when he didn't even speak out for condom use at the start of the deadly AIDS crisis. John Paul II should never be canonized; he should be forgotten - filed away as a fool who couldn't break with the church's moldy traditions to spare millions of lives.
Soylent Green is a message in a bottle left by the last generation. It looked 50 years into the "distant" future. Well, we're almost there, and how are we doing? How will we be 35 years after An Inconvenient Truth? It's time to wake up. Hollywood has educated the public to the issues in two major films a generation apart. Perhaps we will finally take heed, or someday soon be forced to suffer the consequences of selfish, mismanaged living. Besides, do you really want Charlton Heston to be able to say, "I told you so"?