Here’s the trailer for the new documentary Surviving Progress, which hit theaters in New York on Monday and comes to the rest of the country on April 20.
I think it’s important to make a distinction between progress and good progress. Things progress in the sense that they change. But when they reach a certain scale, they turn out to be dead ends.
Surviving Progress was inspired by the book A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright, and both are about presenting “the story of human advancement as awe-inspiring and double-edged.”
Ronald Wright, whose best-seller, “A Short History Of Progress” inspired this film, reveals how civilizations are repeatedly destroyed by “progress traps” — alluring technologies serve immediate needs, but ransom the future. Margaret Atwood, Jane Goodall, assorted other activists and academics, they’re all in this film.
The movie includes the usual bit about how our brains are total anachronisms and we’re all basically just apes with neckties and/or clever T-shirts. The one worth paying attention to is Vaclav Smil, who probably forgot more about energy than the entire staff of Grist could claim to know, and who carries the movie with this simple message: “We have to use less.”