Paul Kingsnorth: Portrait of a Recovering Environmentalist

Paul Kingsnorth: Portrait of a Recovering Environmentalist

2018, Environment  -   9 Comments
Ratings: 7.71/10 from 41 users.

An acclaimed novelist and poet, Paul Kingsnorth has also served as one of the most vocal and determined environmental activists. He inspired many throughout the world with his thoughts on conservation, and his belief that humanity could play the key role in saving the world from the ravages of climate change. But that was yesterday. In the vpro documentary Paul Kingsnorth: Portrait of a Recovering Environmentalist, we meet a man who no longer believes we can save the world.

He now lives on the outskirts of the grid in Ireland, where he remains committed to maintaining an efficient, sustainable life. It's a commendable way of life he and his family have adopted, but he's under no illusions that it will make a bit of difference in the larger fight against climate change.

He recognizes that steps have been taken to curb the ill effects of the crisis, but he believes that the global approach to the problem has been misguided.

Firstly, wind turbines and solar panels would have to blanket the entirety of the Earth in order to satisfy our world's dependence on energy. For Kingsnorth, that concept is both impractical and immoral, because it presumes that nature's role is solely to accommodate our activities. By calling upon the powers of industry to resolve our climate issues, we're essentially regarding the natural world as an entity for financial gain. Climate change technologies are exploiting the very resources they are designed to protect. They're intruders on the landscape, their bombastic sounds disturb the natural order, and their turbine panels destroy vast amounts of bird life.

In order to truly combat climate change, Kingsnorth asserts, we must change our way of thinking as a modern species. We must reclaim our sense of the divinity of nature, and stand before it with humility. Without this, the technologies will prove meaningless.

Throughout the film, Kingsnorth rides a wave between cynicism, aspiration and resignation. His approach to the issue of climate change has evolved significantly over the years. His once fiery brand of impassioned activism has given way to a more reflective and philosophical rhetoric.

Kingsnorth: Portrait of a Recovering Environmentalist may prove depressing and defeating to some. Others may find a greater truth in the film, and one in which they can extrapolate their own sense of hope.

Directed by: Tomas Kaan

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2 years ago

I roll my eyes to hear the interviewer offering "isn't that depressing?" as if this were a rational argument against the validity of the point Paul is making. Our culture has this obsessive insistence on cheerfulness, on "positivity," that's entirely irrational. It's so iron-clad we refuse to even consider aspects of realities that we don't like, any thoughts that make us feel sad. Of course it's depressing to see and understand the thing Paul's describing. Feeling depressed about it is a healthy and correct response for any person who has developed some sort of love for the living world that is being ripped apart. I feel this often. I also feel another kind of despair, one that comes from being surrounded by people devoted to the theology of positive thinking. This is the despair at nearly never finding a companion in despair. Sorrow and grieving are better walked though in togetherness, not isolation. But because these things are forbidden in all areas of life aside from death of a family member, those of us who might come together to grieve the global ecological calamity, and the realization that none of the "solutions" proposed are going to fundamentally turn things around, can rarely even identify each other. Because voicing our perception of hopelessness would be forbidden under the unspoken rules of the church of mainstream environmentalism. The first sort of despair seems entirely human and right and fitting to me. The second one, an unfortunate and avoidable consequence of the mental straight-jackets our culture prescribes.

Enough With It
3 years ago

Studies in fact show that a few hundred square miles would provide the world with all energy ever needed. Statements like "would need to blanket the earth with wind and solar power" are misleading at best, and they are hugely damaging to the environmental cause. All the "OMG WE ARE GOING TO DIE TOMORROW" headlines we read every day is getting old. Let's just get realistic about reducing pollution and get on with it.

The guy in this movie is clearly in need of help, he needs to see a mental health professional.

Devil Travels
4 years ago

Paul Kingsnorth certainly has a narrow, even binary, view of the world and holds some false beliefs. In fact, he is so focused on his little piece of the planet that he can't see there's an entire universe around him.

Joe Zorzin
4 years ago

He isn't really a recovering environmentalist- he's one who has decided to change his lifestyle to make it have less impact on the world.

Conspiracy 2Riot
4 years ago

This is the most realistic & honest interview I've ever saw, regarding the environmental movement, which really should be called 'green capitalism'. He's right. People are clamoring for 'sustainable' everything, but expect nothing in lifestyles to change.

And so it the same for these fake NGO's & Extinction Rebellion, which isn't a rebellion by a long shot. It's a way for young people to FEEL like they're making a difference, when the end game goal for corporations & capitalism is to rebrand themselves as green and responsible. Then sell the same things that destroy natural habitat...because capitalism demands natural capital to exist.

It's still going to be a consumer driven market. Not a need based market. And they're going to trick everyone into demanding their pensions be handed over to smart, sensible, environmentally friendly investment firms to finance these fake solutions.

Wind, Solar, Hydro, Nuclear...none of these forms of energy are parachuted into locations w/o fossil fuels helping them every step of the way. From the Mining, Manufacturing, Transport, Set up & Maintenance...fossil fuels are required. This seems to be lost on everyone.

Besides which, were we to even be able to draw down GHG's being emitted, we'd cause Global Dimming to be diminished or go away altogether. Do that and for quite some time we'll heat even more rapidly.

There are no solutions to our problems that can be answered with the technology we have. Zero.

4 years ago

Can you imagine every family in the world using up as much space as his family to survive in the particular style which he has chosen? His sort really has no consideration for other people.