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Avatar and The Reality of Sustainability

Avatar and The Reality of Sustainability

I just finished seeing James Cameron’s new blockbuster movie Avatar, an amazing piece of film making that imagines what a world and culture based completely on sustainable living would be like.

The story takes place 150 years or so in the future on a planet called Pandora, a forested utopia populated by a humanoid species called the Na’vi, as well as a variety of exotic and often luminescent flora and fauna, all living in a harmonious balance. Of planet earth, Cameron said recently that “Science is unable to keep up with our industrial society. We are destroying species faster than we can classify them.” This movie seems designed to show what we are missing out on. It is a beautiful vision to behold (especially in IMAX 3D).

Several reviewers have pointed out that the Na’vi culture and way of life bear a strong resemblance to those of many Native American tribes and other indigenous peoples. And just as Europeans did in the new world, the earth folks show up on Pandora to mine a rare ore, and consider everything else ready to be bulldozed, blasted, or relocated. Where the Na’vi see abundance, the earthlings see only a hostile world to be exploited and tamed.

The main character – a former Marine named Jake – is sent to Pandora to participate in a science project to learn about the Na’vi by literally going native: he controls a cloned body and becomes one. Jake and a few other non-conformist humans on Pandora (generally the scientists) learn to appreciate and are eventually forced to defend the Na’vi and their way of life. It is a simple good vs evil tale, with natives, intellectuals, and greens on one side, and a profit-driven military-industrial complex on the other.

If only real life were so unambiguous! The obvious irony of the storyline is that the only way humans learn about the Na’vi’s low-tech and ecologically balanced lifestyle is by space travel, cloning, and sophisticated neural networking. The irony of the film itself is that Cameron had to lean entirely on new technologies to create and deliver it. Like most of us, Cameron and his hero long for Eden even as they takes another bite from the forbidden fruit. The greatest potential failure for the sustainability/green movement is ignoring both the benefits and irreversibility of progress. Whether it is traveling by air to learn more about our planet or negotiate a climate treaty, making crops more productive, or advances is health and wellness, there seems to be no going back.

I suppose it’s all about balance. If modern man can’t live like the Na’vi, at least we can recognize when we have thrown our own world and lives too far out of balance. Not surprisingly, there is a better word in the Hopi language to describe this than there is in English: Koyaanisqatsi.

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Photo copyright: Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/officialavatarmovie/ Not for sale or redistribution. Property of 20th Century Fox, all rights reserved. 

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209 comments

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9:11PM PST on Dec 6, 2013

interesting article. thanks for sharing.

4:01PM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

The movie was Superior. The whole production of it. The theme is one i hope people will understand. Because we do have vibrating molecules in and around our self. And they all can be in harmony...as beautiful music is.
Plants do feel what we think...in general terms...they hurt and get scared also. I go as far as to think they can 'care' for a human. The movie is not so far off of what is real on our planet. That is one movie I would buy to see over and over again.

3:46PM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

The movie was Superior. The whole production of it. The theme is one i hope people will understand. Because we do have vibrating molecules in and around our self. And they all can be in harmony...as beautiful music is.
Plants do feel what we think...in general terms...they hurt and get scared also. I go as far as to think they can 'care' for a human. The movie is not so far off of what is real on our planet. That is one movie I would buy to see over and over again.

9:49AM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

Avatar definitely a metaphor for how mankind treats this planet!

12:31PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

One of my fvorite movies....What I loved the most, was the ever flowing message..EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED AND WE MAKE THE CHOICE OF GOOD OVER BAD!

8:02PM PDT on Mar 12, 2012

True environmentalism is not about rules (e.g. Recycle, turn the thermostat up, get a hybrid, buy Energy Star appliances). These are good things to do, but they ideally come from a love of the Earth and its beauty. As a Christian I believe that God did not want humans to exploit the Earth greedily and carelessly. I believe the verse about ruling over the Earth has been tragically misinterpreted. Good rulers take care of what they have dominion over.

5:45AM PST on Mar 9, 2010

Avatar sounds is great movie but I have never seen it yet.

6:27AM PST on Feb 11, 2010

This is the best movie I have ever seen !. The whole cinema audience clapped when it finished. What I found so moving is that it demonstrated a deep `emotional' connection between the Na'vi and their planet. This goes far beyond recycling and using `sustainable' products. The Na'vi actually tuned into the frequency of their planet, the heartbeat of their `Mother.' They didn't need any laws to tell them how to be `green'. In fact, I think that the `green' movement has become a fashion, where not everything labelled `green' makes a connection to the planet from the heart, quite to the contrary at times. This is a great pity and missing the point completely. In all our `green' thinking we have forgotten what matters most - to understand that everything is connected by an energy from within the earth and surrounding our planet. Our own energy is connected to Mother Earth. In fact, every mineral we find in the earth is found in the human body at the same ratio! We ARE the children of Mother Earth.THIS IS REALITY right now and right here on our own planet and this is what Avatar reminds me of.

My own research into Schumann Resonance has taught me just that. My website www.earthbreathing.co.uk gives further explanation. We are destroying Mother Earth with manmade frequencies which are drowning out her own. We are actually destroying her `energy field' and killing ourselves and Nature in the process. The disappearance of bees is no coincidence and demonstrates this clearly.The g

10:57AM PST on Feb 7, 2010

Namaste' All,

In a word ~ YES!

IN JOY,
Jalus

6:36PM PST on Feb 1, 2010

I have been sitting here for a couple of weeks now just waiting for all the hoop-de-la to get over with about this movie.....What this shows us is means for others to try and take over self suffient peoples society with violence. This puts us humans right back in the neanderthal ways.....

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