James Cameron – The Titanic as a metaphor for climate crisis

Transcribed from the last 2 minutes of the National Geographic 46 minute video documentary “The Titanic: The Final Word” by James Cameron.

Bob Thomson, Ottawa, 15 April 2012

There’s something about the Titanic story. For me, it’s so much more than just simply an exercise in forensic archaeology. Part of the Titanic parable is of arrogance, of hubris, of the sense we’re too big to fail. Well where have we heard that one before? [Video of a sea of burning oil platforms] There was this big machine, this human system that was pushing forward with so much momentum that it couldn’t turn and couldn’t stop in time to avert the disaster. And that’s what we have right now! But in that human system, on board that ship, if you want to make it a microcosm of the world, you have different classes, you know you have first class, second class, third class. Well in our world right now you’ve got developed nations and undeveloped nations. You’ve got the starving millions who are going to be the ones the most affected by the next iceberg that we hit. Which is going to be climate change. We can see that iceberg ahead of us right now but we can’t turn. We can’t turn because of the momentum of the system – the political momentum, the business momentum. There are too many people making money out of the system. The way the system works right now, those people who frankly have their hands on the levers of power aren’t ready to let them go. And until they do, we aren’t going to be able to turn and miss that iceberg we’re going to hit. When we hit it, the rich are still going to be able to get their access to food, to arable land, to water and so on. It’s going to be the poor, it’s going to be the steerage, that are going to be impacted. It was the same with the Titanic. I think that’s why this story was always fascinating. Because it’s a perfect little encapsulation of the world and the whole social spectrum. But until our lives are really put at risk, the moment of truth, we don’t know what we would do. And that’s my final word.

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