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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 2040 is a climate-change documentary that promotes the hope of an environmentally viable, thriving future. Australian actor/director Damon Gameau travels the world talking to experts in various fields like energy, food, farms, marine biology, and education to figure out what steps humans can take to reverse the course of environmental destruction and seek a better future by the year 2040. The film uses computer-generated visual effects and actors to envision what 2040 could look like if everyone heeds the call to reduce their carbon footprint. There's nothing really iffy in the documentary, but there are a few brief references to alternative scenarios (as well as to early marriage/motherhood in areas where girls aren't educated). And some of the environmental and scientific concepts might be difficult for really young kids to understand. Ultimately, though, the documentary invites conversation and activism and comes with built-in resources for further exploration.
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What's the story?
2040 is an original take on turning the tide on environmental destruction. In it, Australian actor-director Damon Gameau explains that, for the sake of his 4-year-old daughter, Velvet, he's going to travel the world meeting with experts in various fields to make the near future better for their adulthoods. Gameau also interviews children asking them what they want and hope for the future. Then he speaks to innovators and specialists in everything from micro-grid solar energy, communal driver-less transportation, and marine permaculture to the global need for educating girls and the importance of eating less meat and investing in regenerative farming. Using visual effects, set design, and make up, the film also shows how happy, productive, and green the future could be if we collectively embrace some of these innovations.
Is it any good?
This is a hopeful, even sweet look at what the future could be like for the next generation if the world embraces actionable steps to save the Earth. Gameau's strategy is simple: He interviews kids who share their dreams, speaks to international experts, and then acts in brief dramtizations of what the year 2040 might be like, focusing on the 24-year-old version of Velvet (played by Eva Lazzaro). Occasionally the vignettes about the future can be a little corny (gray, wrinkled versions of Damon and his wife Zoë Tuckwell-Smith appear doing couples' yoga, dancing, telling "dad jokes" and otherwise embarrassing their daughter), but it's still pleasant and will resonate with parents with young children.
Gameau's heart is big, and so are the documentary's messages. But despite how easy and no-nonsense Gameau makes these environmental changes seem, more cynical viewers will know that it's going to take a massive paradigm shift to implement some, if not all, of the proposed solutions on the scale necessary to move the needle in the right direction. Still, it's wonderful to see a documentary about climate change that isn't focused on impending doom but rather on the myriad ways that each person, each family, each community can make a considerable difference -- in how we eat, get around, garden, use our energy, and, most important, how we learn, believe, and do.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Damon Gameau and the experts he consults demonstrate compassion, communication, and curiosity. Why are those important character strengths? How can families work on those traits?
Does the documentary make you want to be more mindful about environmental issues such as food, farming, energy and transportation?
Which of Gameau's steps for a more environmentally minded future do you think could happen? What steps can you take to ensure that it will?
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