THINGS ARE NOT GOOD. Most reasonably aware people know this, at least vaguely, when they look at the litanies of economic and environmental alarm bells in the news—but the Martin Scorsese-produced Surviving Progress connects the dots for you, and then beats them over your head: Human civilization currently values technological progress over nearly everything else. But, like our primitive ancestors who got so good at hunting mammoths that they wiped out their own food source, Surviving Progress argues that too much progress is leading us to a dead end. The economic disparities, the vanishing of natural resources, and the resulting wars and revolutions will only get worse.
Based on Ronald Wright's A Short History of Progress, the coming apocalypse is recounted to the audience by an impressive roster of talking heads that includes Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking, and Margaret Atwood. They do an excellent job of explaining how doomed we are, citing a panoply of alarming examples to create an effective big picture of our self-destruction. It is, as you would imagine, a rather depressing intake of wisdom, no matter how insightfully delivered. However, the solutions proposed—halting the raid on the rain forest, debt cancellation for developing countries, and, my favorite, Hawking's suggestion that a contingent of the human race move to outer space—offer little in the way of specific and applicable suggestions for the average human being.