This documentary film, based on Ronald Wright's best-selling book “A Short History Of Progress”, explores whether human civilisation can be said to genuinely be making progress and just what is progress any way?
The film starts at looking at human psychology, and states that what makes us differ from the apes is our ability to ask why. However it also suggests that physically, emotionally and mentally we haven't developed all that far beyond the first humans. We're still effectively ice age hunters trying to cope with the bewildering economic and cultural developments of human civilisation.
Are we in fact in the middle of a progress trap? Wright offers an example of a very early progress trap, when prehistoric hunters found that rather than just killing the mammoths they needed to eat they could trap whole herds of mammoths. This looked like great progress until the mammoths starting running out and the hunters lost a valuable source of food. (Sound familiar at all?)
The film then looks at progress made by humans across the world and examines it's sustainability: rampant consumerism, deforestation, genetic engineering, space exploration.
The film interviews politicians, environmentalists (including Jane Goodall) writers (including Margaret Atwood) and economists, all of whom give their perspectives on progress.
It's a thought provoking film, worth trying to see it if you can.
Surviving Progress is showing at the Filmhouse, Edinburgh tonight at 6.15 and tomorrow at 1.10. Find your local screening here. If you're in the UK or Ireland you can also watch the film on the new Filmhouse Player here (you will need to sign up and pay for this service).
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