UPDATE: May 26, 2020, 11 a.m. — Planet of the Humans was removed from YouTube on May 23 after English environmental photographer Toby Smith filed a copyright infringement complaint, saying that director Jeff Gibbs used a few seconds of his footage in the film without getting permission to do so.
Planet of the Humans, the brand new Michael Moore-produced climate change documentary, has become the subject of widespread controversy after being accused of being “riddled with falsehoods and misinformation” by a leading climate change activist calling to have the film removed.
The one-hour, 40-minute spanning documentary serves as the directorial debut of longtime Moore producer, Jeff Gibbs (Bowling For Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11), and takes a “full-frontal assault” on renewable energy sources, by alleging that they are not a “real solution” to saving the planet.
Upon its release, a letter calling for an “apology and immediate retraction” of Planet of the Humans was shared by American filmmaker and environmental activist Josh Fox (Gasland), who described it as a “blatant affront to science, renewable energy, environmental activism and truth itself.”
Additionally, Fox called to Films For Action, an online movie archive, to remove the feature from their library.
Instead of renewable energy sources — which Gibbs, suggests are just as expensive as fossil fuels — the film calls for environmentalists and viewers to throw their full attention towards issues like population control and economic regression in order to effectively combat climate change.
To relay many of its arguments, Planet of the Humans also preys on decade-old mistakes made by prominent environmental activists like former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and author Bill McKibben, in an attempt to pin them as corrupt, money-hungry figureheads.
McKibben, on the other hand, denied this, and denied rumours that he has ever taken money from corporations. He said he has always been subject to “ceaseless harassment from the fossil fuel industry” and “others who think of themselves as activists,” according to a statement.
Michael Mann, both a climate change scientist and signatory to Fox’s letter, said that the movie was filled with “various distortions, half-truths and lies,” according to the Guardian.
In his letter, Fox, 48, later described Gibbs’ arguments and focal points as “shockingly misleading and absurd.”
The Oscar-nominated director also “debunks” the “fossil fuel industry talking points,” by noting that in modern-day times, green energy is less harmful, cheaper and overall more reliable than fossil fuels, such as coal, are.
Despite revealing he was once a fan of Moore’s work — even citing him as a “fallen hero” on Twitter — Fox said that instead of “punching up” against “authority and hypocrisy,” that he is now doing the opposite and “punching down at us.”
On April 24, Films For Action responded to Fox’s plea, and those who echoed it, by making the decision to remove Planet of the Humans from their website. However, hours later, they re-listed it, citing their belief that “media literacy, critique and debate is the best solution to misinformation.”
Initially, Planet of the Humans premiered last July at the Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan, however, instead of receiving a theatrical release, it was put on YouTube for free last Wednesday, in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day.
“We didn’t want to wait to put it in theatres. We want people to watch it now,” said Moore, 66, of the early release, during an interview with Late Show host Stephen Colbert last week.
Moore continued to stress what he believes to be the importance of the message in Planet of the Humans.
He said it was a siren call for all of us to “get involved” in saving the environment, by moving away from green energy.
“The public knows we’re losing the climate battle thanks to profit and greed and leaders who led us wrong,” wrote the filmmaker in a tweet on Friday, reiterating his beliefs that renewable energy sources are ineffective, government-approved deceit.
Gibbs, on the other hand, has not made any comment at all since the controversy.