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What will the world look like in 2040? Well, many predictions say the world is going to hell in a handbag and it’s all your fault you plastic-using demon! … However, Damon Gameau has a different narrative for the future. In his new environmental documentary 2040, Damon ponders what the world will look like in 21 years “if we just embrace the best that already exists”.

Now we all know that predictions for the future are gloomy, but Damon insists that there’s still hope for the future. The man’s got some skin in the game of course, his young daughter Velvet. She will have to live in the future that we create. So, with her prospective 2040 in mind, Damon sets out to discover a future full of hope and sustainability for all mankind. Now before you barf in your hand from that sickly-sweet sentiment, hear me out.

For a while now, it seems to me that the narrative around global warming and humans’ environmental impact has been based on a fear mongering of sorts. Basically, we’re all going to die! Now I won’t deny that we need to reduce our use of single use plastic and just generally take better care of our planet. But I’ve often wondered if perhaps there’s another narrative? Turns out yes there is, and Damon’s got the goods.

There are quite a few reasons to be hopeful for the future and do some “fact-based dreaming”. Throughout the doco Damon looks at existing technologies that can be utilized to improve our prospective 2040. Things such as self-driving cars and solar home systems, things that seem like impossibilities, but Damon insists they are possible, and they are possible now.

I’m going to be honest, I was really inspired by 2040, which surely is the point of a documentary like this. A lot of the information could have been quite dry and academic. But the choice to present the film as a letter to his future daughter helps the “everyman” (aka me) to grasp it and get excited about it.

I’ve begun to lower my consumption of red meat, in fact meat in general. Plus, I’ve formulated a plan for a garden in my backyard. You might think it’s quite childish to have such a reaction to one movie, and perhaps you’re right. But in a sense this film really appeals to the child in you, simplifying the chaos and returning you to a time when it seemed a lot easier to be “good”. Which is ironic because it’s a film about the future.

I’m not sure if I’m an optimist, and I assume the cynics reading this are no longer with us because they had to lay down from concussion after repeatedly hitting their heads against the wall. But you really can’t fault a film with such a positive message. It’s sprinkled with great bursts of humour to keep you entertained as you are flooded with knowledge.

Regardless of the positive perspective, you’ll likely still feel a twinge of guilt. My plastic straw and packet of peanut M&Ms’s certainly didn’t help extinguish that feeling. But the ultimate outcome of this doco is that you should be hopeful for the future and inspired to make your own change. As Damon so eloquently asks in his silky-smooth Australian accent – “what’s your 2040?”

– Joshua Baty



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