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Living In the Future’s Past: What Are We Hoping to Sustain?

Posted by Sara Gutterman

Sep 20, 2018 10:45:26 AM

Living in the Future’s Past, a new film by Academy Award winning actor Jeff Bridges and Director Susan Kucera, explores how cheap energy and animal instincts enabled us to create a system that prioritizes short-term thinking over the long-view, to the detriment of our species and our planet.  Do we have the ability to transform our behavior before it’s too late?

When most people think about Academy Award winning actor Jeff Bridges, they generally think about his classic roles in movies like The Big Lebowski, The Fabulous Baker Boys, and Crazy Heart.  But it turns out that “The Dude” is deeply concerned about the environment and the future of civilization, as evidenced in his latest film, Living in the Future’s Past

Through a series of interviews with scientists, psychologists, climatologists, professors, politicians, and other subject matter experts, Bridges and Kucera adroitly reveal how our primal fight or flight instincts, which historically attuned our brains to respond to immediate survival threats, is no longer appropriate for modern-day issues.  By concerning ourselves only with the challenges right in front of us, we fail to embrace a longer-term perspective that would ensure the ongoing protection of our species and our planet. 

And that lack of long-term vision has brought us to a precarious crossroads—a place where nature has collided with its own limits, and a moment in time when we must decide what kind of a future we want. 

“This Earth was here before us, and it will be here long after we’re gone,” narrates Bridges in the movie.  “Every living thing on it has evolved together over eons of time.   And although we are part of the web of life, because we see it, we think we stand above it. From all that nature gave us, we have made a new world out of wilderness—we’ve built great civilizations.  It seems that there was nothing we could not do.  Even the sky itself was not the limit.  But now, we’re seeing the symptoms of a reality we didn’t expect.  Have we reached the limitations of human nature?  Is this the end of the line for us?”

The movie reminds us that, despite the physical and psychological fortresses that we have created for ourselves, we are not separate from nature.  Our society, fueled by cheap energy and the thrill of consumption, is an anomaly.  Our perpetual state of plenty, along with all of its unintended consequences, will ultimately be our downfall—it’s the profound paradox of our time.

The movie incites us to give heed to the extreme changes that are happening all around us. “Throughout the Earth’s history, change has occurred gradually,” says Dr. Rich Pancost, Professor of Biogeochemistry at the University of Bristol.  “Changes that used to occur in hundreds of thousands of years are now happening over 100 years due to dramatic increases of carbon dioxide resulting from our modern lifestyles.  We have very little knowledge of how the Earth’s biological systems will respond to such a rapid change.  The faster the change comes, the less time the planet’s ecosystems and species (including humans), will have to adapt to the change.”

In addition to providing scientific facts, psychological insights, and interesting theories, the experts in Living in the Future’s Past pose a series of thought-provoking questions.  They encourage us to think about ourselves as part of nature, rather than separate from it.  Because, after all, “we are part of the Earth, and completely dependent on its good graces,” emphasized Oren Lyons, Native American Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan.  

Calling for a fundamental transformation of our cultural zeitgeist, the movie postulates that it’s time to redefine our expectations, not based on what we will lose, but what we will gain by changing our way of thinking. 

General Wesley Clark, retired four-star Army Chief of Staff, proclaims, “the greatest challenge of our time is understanding how we have impacted the planet and how we now need to deal with that.  We are an incredibly flexible species, and we need to figure out how to stop destroying habitats and ecosystems so that we can have a prosperous, sustainable future.  It’s essential not just for national security, but for global stability.”

But changing our habits requires mindfulness.  What if, instead of working against each other with only a view of the present, we worked together to establish a collective view of the future?  What could we achieve then?  How would that transformation reshape the future? 

And why do we think that if we become stewards of the environment, we will somehow lose our quality of life and our ability to be successful?  Wouldn’t stewardship and sustainability enhance our prosperity?  Are the results we’re achieving the ones we really intend?

Green Builder Media is proud to partner with Bridges and Kucera to unveil Living in the Future’s Past, which will be  released nationwide on October 9.  Click here to read more about the film and locate a theater near you.

If you’d like to learn more about the psychological effects of climate change, how climate action is essential for national security, and the making of Living in the Future’s Past, join Green Builder Media, Jeff Bridges, General Wesley Clark and Susan Kucera at our upcoming Sustainability Symposium 2019: The Desert Shall Bloom on Monday, February 18, 2019 (the day before the show floor opens at Design & Construction Week) at the UNLV campus in Las Vegas. 

And, don’t miss the celebration of our annual Sustainability Award winners the night before the Sustainability Symposium on February 17 at 6:00 p.m. at the exclusive Mr. Chow in Caesars Palace.

Click here to register for the Sustainability Symposium 2019: The Desert Shall Bloom and Sustainability Awards galaSpace is strictly limited and by reservation only, so reserve your seat today!  Register for the Symposium before October 1, 2018 using the code EarlyBird and you’ll receive a $100 discount.

A sincere thank you to our generous sponsors, Samsung, Ingersoll Rand, Emerson, Andersen, and Caesars Entertainment for helping to make the Symposium and gala dinner possible.

What do you think about the astute questions posed by Living in the Future’s Past?  Write to me at sara.gutterman@greenbuildermedia.com.

Want to read more?  Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.  For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit Green Builder Media at www.greenbuildermedia.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for regular updates and breaking news.

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