If there is a group of people who know a little something about sustainability, about surviving more than one near apocalypse, you can find it there.
I say this because at the movies, on TV, in books and even in the form of Disneyeque animation, we’ve seen the world destroyed in a wave after wave of dystopian, post-apocalyptic depictions. At the movies this summer, there’s nonstop incarnations of end-of-days scenarios with “After Earth,” “Pacific Rim” and even the comedy “This Is The End.”
But let’s rewind the reel a little to get some perspective. In 2007, the Pulitzer Prize for literature went to “The Road,” Cormac McCarthy’s hauntingly beautiful, dark as night, novel that became a movie about a father and son traipsing across a scorched, barren earth.
And while readers were raising “The Road” onto best-seller lists, Al Gore did his own personal remake via a PowerPoint presentation and altered the linguistic landscape turning the term “an inconvenient truth” into a phrase that’s been recycled and reapplied to causes of every kind.
In 2008, with Pixar’s “Wall-E,” Mother Earth was abandoned by humans with a lone robot to clean up. More recently we’ve gone from Denzel Washington’s wasteland, “The Book of Eli,” to “Oblivion” (another tale of post-apocalypse, though this time we were done in by invading aliens who we had to nuke).
Each work, in its own way, presents a bleak vision that hasn’t been seen in pop culture since the Cold War, when doomsday scenarios were a constant, from “Fail Safe” and “Dr. Strangelove” to television’s “The Day After.”
But while threats of nuclear-style Armageddon was the cause célèbre back then, a sense of environmental catastrophe is rampant today, radiating its message like gamma rays.
Exploiting the trend, every corporate brand has had to rethink its image as it lays claim to green. Fashion-wise, green’s become the new black. But the green that businesses are really responding to is cash because of the inconvenient truth that environmental sustainability has become one of consumer purchasing behavior’s top influences.
Likewise, Hollywood picking up (err, championing) this movement has adapted and transformed storylines and reaffixed disasters, from creating masterpieces of extreme nuclear apocalypse to the newest and latest “eco” kind.
In “After Earth” the audience was greeted with an opening narration about earth’s evacuation after a vague environmental catastrophe. But having framed and shot these stories from every angle already, these latest attempts appear dried out and parched, rendering scrawny scores on Rotten Tomatoes based on ho-hum reviews.
Now back to our hero. The determination to find a solution to the ecological challenge is a real storyline that’s thriving in Israel, embraced by its youth, and has become the “eco”nomic engine of the country.
Israel, surrounded by countries drenched in oil, has solar panels everywhere and water tanks on their rooftops. Pay phones and street lights are all powered by the sun. Agritech, cleantech, eco-living are vibrant areas of growth in Israel.
While environmental apocalypse makes for a good villain on the screen, the tiny country donning
the blue and white is coming to the rescue in real time.
Abe Novick, whose work is at abebuzz.com, is a local freelance writer.