Bonus Edition #208 Planet of the Humans from Michael Moore, Explained

Air Date: 5–15-2020

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Today, Amanda and I discuss the new film Executive Produced by Michael Moore, Planet of the Humans. We try to hit as many topics as we can but do not claim this is an exhaustive list of problems with the film. In short, the film tries to make a few good points but they are completely drowned in a sea of misinformation potent enough to send climate deniers into a joyous tizzy.


EPISODE SPONSORS: Clean Choice Energy  |


00:00:00 Ch. 1: Intro and Index

00:06:12 Ch. 2: Planet of the Humans DEBUNKED Part 1: Misrepresenting Solar Science - Now You Know - Air Date 5-8-20

00:11:44 Ch. 3: Planet of the Humans DEBUNKED Part 2: Ignoring New Renewable Solutions to Intermittency - Now You Know - Air Date 5-8-20

00:17:12 Michael Moore, filmmakers respond to criticism of new bombshell environmental film Part 1: No Defense of Their Bad Science - The Hill Rising - Air Date 4-28-20

00:20:10 Ch. 4: Michael Moore, filmmakers respond to criticism of new bombshell environmental film Part 2: All the Good Points the Film Failed to Make - The Hill Rising - Air Date 4-28-20

00:24:03 Ch. 5: Michael Moore, filmmakers respond to criticism of new bombshell environmental film Part 3: Population Control? - The Hill Rising - Air Date 4-28-20

00:28:39 Ch. 6: The Climate Conversation has Been Imploded

00:31:04 Ch. 7: The Reason Population Reduction is Not the Answer to Our Climate Emergency

00:33:01 Ch. 8: The Mechanics of Making a Bad Documentary - Manipulative Editing

00:34:44 Ch. 9: The Mechanics of Making a Bad Documentary - Poor Interview Sourcing

00:36:28 Ch. 10: Poor Interview Sourcing, Misleading Data: The GM Volt Launch

00:39:02 Ch. 11: The Mechanics of Making a Bad Documentary - No Follow-Up Interviews

00:46:12 Ch. 12: The Mechanics of Making a Bad Documentary - Bad Data by Ignoring Innovation

00:47:21 Ch. 13: The Mechanics of Making a Bad Documentary - Artificially Inflating Small Issues to Seem Large

00:48:52 Ch. 14: The Mechanics of Making a Bad Documentary - We’re Just Asking Questions

00:49:30 Ch. 15: The Mechanics of Making a Bad Documentary - Terrible Graphs and Visuals

00:52:55 Ch. 16: The Mechanics of Making a Bad Documentary - Silly Anecdotes

00:54:13 Ch. 17: The Mechanics of Making a Bad Documentary - Assuming Makes an Ass Out of You and Me

00:57:16 Ch. 18: Comparing Mountain-Top Wind Farms to Mountain-Top-Removal Coal Mining is Unconscionable

00:58:39 Ch. 19: The Mechanics of Making a Bad Documentary - Making Arguments in Nonsensical Ways

01:00:58 Ch. 20: White Men Fail to Discuss Reproductive Justice or Environmental Justice in Any Way

01:02:01 Ch. 21: EVs, Green Energy in Michael Moore's Confused New Documentary Planet Of The Humans - Transport Evolved - Air Date 4-29-20

01:04:47 Ch. 22: The Film Leaves Viewers With a Conclusion the Filmmakers Didn’t Intend

01:05:43 Ch. 23: The Film Doesn’t Speak to Anyone Advocating a New Way of Living

01:07:53 Ch. 24: Who is Benefitting and Who is Being Hurt By This Film?

01:12:00 Ch. 25: Planet of the Humans DEBUNKED Part 3: Emboldened Deniers - Now You Know - Air Date 5-8-20

01:14:53 Ch. 26: Right-Wing Media LOVES This Film: The Left 'has attacked' Michael Moore for his 'Planet Human' documentary - Sky News Australia - Air Date 4-27-20

01:17:03 Ch. 27: Debunking the Idea that Anyone Ever Called for the Film to be Banned

01:18:07 Ch. 28: The Damage to the Climate Movement: The Problem With “Planet Of The Humans” Part. 1 ft. Joshua Kahn Russell - Michael Brooks Show - Air Date 5-7-20

01:24:16 Ch. 29: Attempting to Make Good Points About the Neoliberalism at the Heart of the Climate Movement but Completely Botching it

01:28:28 Ch. 30: The Producers Defend the Use of Bad Science by Asserting that Science Doesn’t Matter

01:30:00 Ch. 31: Michael Moore in a live discussion with Extinction Rebellion co-founder Clare Farrell Part 1 - Extinction Rebellion - Air Date 5-5-20

01:32:03 Ch. 32: Science is Foundational to Their Arguments but Also Doesn’t Matter

01:34:14 Ch. 33: Michael Moore in a live discussion with Extinction Rebellion co-founder Clare Farrell Part 2 - Extinction Rebellion - Air Date 5-5-20

01:35:56 Ch. 34: Fostering Conspiratorial Thinking

01:37:50 Ch. 35: Scientists are Religious, Only we Know the Truth: Michael Moore in a live discussion with Extinction Rebellion co-founder Clare Farrell Part 3 - Extinction Rebellion - Air Date 5-5-20

01:40:43 Ch. 36: Naïve, Wishful Thinking is Not a Thesis

01:42:22 Ch. 37: How to Make an Argument that Centers the Need to Reduce Consumption

01:44:50 Ch. 38: Michael Moore Proves His Profound Ignorance: Michael Moore in a live discussion with Extinction Rebellion co-founder Clare Farrell Part 4 - Extinction Rebellion - Air Date 5-5-20

01:45:54 Ch. 39: Explaining Moore’s Deep Ignorance

01:50:32 Ch. 40: The Need to Trust in Experts, Not Buffoons

01:51:14 Ch. 41: Accidental Eugenics Leads Predictably to Deeply Racist Outcomes

01:54:42 Ch. 42: Why Focusing on Over-Population is Not the Solution to Our Climate Emergency

01:57:02 Ch. 43: Sunrise Movement Response to the Film

01:59:08 Ch. 44: Response to the Film by Michael Moore’s Former Fact-Checker

02:01:33 Ch. 45: Extinction Rebellion Response to the Film

02:02:57 Ch. 46: Why We Need to Debunk This Film

Articles for Further Reading (Or Just to Marvel at the Sheer Number of Them)

Moore’s Boorish Planet of The Humans: An Annotated Collection, A Siegel, Get Energy Smart Now

Planet of the humans: A reheated mess of lazy, old myths, Ketan Joshi

This is where hard work got us (another post about the bad film), Ketan Joshi

The great giving up (and the film that made it worse), Ketan Joshi

6 Reasons Why “Planet of the Humans” is a Disaster of Misinformation, Ben Wehrman

10 Reasons « Planet of the Humans » Gets Everything Wrong on Climate, Benjamin Tincq

Why “Planet of the Humans” is crap, Tom Athanasiou, EcoEquity

Film Review: Forget about PLANET OF THE HUMANS by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore by Neal Livingston

Michael Moore produced a film about climate change that’s a gift to Big Oil, Leah Stokes

Planet of the Humans Comes This Close to Actually Getting the Real Problem, Then Goes Full Ecofascism, Brian Kahn, Gizmondo

Inside Clean Energy: 6 Things Michael Moore’s ‘Planet of the Humans’ Gets Wrong, Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News

A Bomb in the Center of the Climate Movement’: Michael Moore Damages Our Most Important Goal, Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone

POTH Traffics in Myths, Errors, and Dangerous Misdirection, John Rogers, Union of Concerned Scientists

Planet of the Humans: Let’s just have a think…, Dave Borlace, Just Have a Think (note: a video response)

Michael Moore’s ‘Planet of the Humans’ Film Trashes Clean Energy, Offers Zero Solutions, Sally Ho, Green Queen

The Important Debate POTH Misses, Kate Aronoff, New Republic

Michael Moores New Film Turns Heroes into Villains and Villains into Heroes, Dr. Michael Mann, Newsweek

The absurdity of releasing Planet of the Humans in April 2020A Siegel, Get Energy Smart Now

#POTH: Michael Moore’s (@MMFlint’s) false choice & a lesson in how not to build a movementSven Eberlein, Get Energy Smart Now

How Did Michael Moore Become A Hero to Climate Deniers and the Far Right? (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Extinction Rebellion Response (Twitter)

Sunrise Movement's Response (Twitter)

George Monbiot's Breakdown of the #PopulationGrowth in Response (Twitter thread)

Joanne Doroshow, Michael Moore's Former Fact Checker, Responds (Facebook)

MUSIC (Blue Dot Sessions)


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Showing 4 reactions

  • Michael Filippis
    commented 2020-05-31 16:52:36 -0400
    So Michael Moore came out swinging on Useful Idiots. I hope you’ll follow up on his comments.
  • Cindy Schaeffer
    commented 2020-05-20 21:11:44 -0400
    Hi Jay, thank you so much for this episode. I’m a Sunrise Movement member in Baltimore and am very informed about climate solutions (“Drawdown,” divestment initiatives, etc.). I had heard about the film and assumed it would be good, because of Michael Moore’s generally good track record, but hadn’t watched it yet. When I heard how off-base, misleading, and baffling the film was, I did my own media search to try to understand about what the hell had happened here… like you, I was surprised how little had been written about it other than the Rolling Stones piece (which is excellent). THANK YOU so much for taking on the enormous task of writing the definitive critique of this film. I really enjoyed the episode and intend to share it widely. I have at least one otherwise intelligent environmentally-minded friend who believed everything the movie peddled… the negative consequences of this film, making even environmentally-conscious people feel hopeless/helpless, is unforgivable. Having this great podcast resource (and your sources) to push back helps A LOT. Thanks so much again. Stay awesome!
  • Jay Tomlinson
    commented 2020-05-19 15:08:12 -0400
    Hi David,

    I don’t really think we’re disagreeing all that much. This article pretty much sums up my thinking on why spending time discussing population is an unnecessary distraction.
  • David Edmunds
    commented 2020-05-19 01:35:20 -0400
    Hello Jay

    I listened to your informative podcast on the Michael Moore climate change film, and agree with most of the points you made, except the line of argument regarding eugenics and population control.

    Firstly, I don’t believe that the issue is a distractor. We are used to thinking in terms of electoral time scales, and so strategies which take, say, 50 years tend to be dismissed. However, limiting the Earth’s human population is essential, as we now exceed the carrying capacity of the Earth.

    You argued that population control was tantamount to eugenics. The term “population control” in this context is misleading. The western world already practices population control and has been doing so for the better part of 50 years. There is not a first-world country where birthrates are sufficient to maintain the existing population. Your country and mine (Australia) have growing populations only due to immigration.

    Across the developing world birth rates are plummeting due to the demographic transition. This occurs when girls receive a primary level education. The education may or may not be a proxy for other cultural changes, but it exists across all cultures.

    All that is required to limit the world’s population is to fund those organisations, for example the OECD, the world to provide education to girls. The girls are then empowered to make the sorts of decisions that we insist are a basic human right in our own countries.

    This is hardly the practice of eugenics as it is generally understood. You are right to suggest that such population control, although “control” is the wrong word in this context, would be targeted at poor brown people. They are part of the only cultures left in the world that have not yet see empowered their women and have birth rates above replacement.

    it is a reasonable long-term strategy in addressing climate change and environmental sustainability more generally, to fund those organisations that support the education of poor girls, and defund those organisations that work against the empowerment of those girls.

    Any approach to such fundamental problems will require more than one strategy, so this should not be viewed as a distraction from more immediate action on climate change.
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