Using the Film "Elysium" in Education

The film Elysium, created by Neill Blomkamp, "takes place on both a ravaged Earth and a luxurious space habitat called Elysium. It explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, transhumanism, health care, exploitation, and class issues." (*)
"Elysium or the Elysian Fields (Ancient Greek: Ἠλύσιον πεδίον, Ēlýsion pedíon) is a conception of the afterlife that developed over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults. Initially separate from the realm of Hades, admission was initially reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. Later, it expanded to include those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life." (*)
As educators, how can we use this film to explore the aforementioned issues? Questions for discussion, research and reports might include: (a) The film portrays two very different existences. Has the film made us more aware of the differences in existence between suburban gated communities and life in low-income inner city neighborhoods?
(b) The film portrays barren landscapes on earth, devoid of water while those on Elysium enjoy lush gardens and swimming pools. In the near future, much of the earth will experience desertification. Millions will be (and currently are) on the move to escape droughts. How does the film explore tensions between these two realities? What obligation, if any, do wealthier countries with water have towards areas that are experiencing drought and poverty?
(c) Is health care a human right? Should those with means have better health care than those without? How is this portrayed in the film?
(d) What rights and protections should workers have? How is this portrayed in the film? Join the discussion at here... Visit our education blog here... Visit our education library here

Edward Snowden: Clemency, Exile or Award?

Should Snowden be offered clemency? New York Times and the Guardian have called for it. Is this what would serve us best, while the massive program(s) continue? Or, should he be left a renegade, an American Natan Sharansky, to remind us that the situation (the undermining of the Fourth Ammendment*) is ongoing? Perhaps he should be left in exile until the universal surveillance is halted? The New York Times (also known as the Ministry of Truth) states:
"Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight," the editorial states. "He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service."
At Avatar Revolution we are nominating Snowden for the 2013 Jake Sully Award. This prestigious award goes to the individual who exemplified Jake Sully the most by opposing or exposing the Machine, hurling himself in front of the harms way for the greater good. See also: Edward Snowden Evolved From Gaming Geek To Conscientious Whistleblower
Fourth Ammendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers [which should include electronic communication and information stored electronically], and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized
* The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Learn more.

2013 Pandora RDA Award Announced

The Pandora RDA award for 2013 has been announced. The award goes to the Earth company that is most like the Resources Development Administration, which is the largest non-governmental organization in the film "Avatar". The RDA operates the main unobtanium mine on Pandora, ESM 01, which is an open pit-style mine.
This year's winner of the coveted prize is split between including Syncrude Canada Ltd., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. affiliate Imperial Oil Ltd for their work in the Canadian Tar Sands Industry. Read more here and here

Fukushima - 2014 Trouble Looming

One possible prediction for 2014 is that the disaster at Fukushima will continue to get worse. In the USA HHS has ordered "14 million doses of potassium iodide...[to be] delivered on or before February 1, 2014." Read more Reactor 3 has now emitting a mysterious plume of radioactive steam. Read more. At reactor 4 Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) is attempting to remove the 1,500 rods using a large crane. If an accident happens, it could start a nuclear reaction that would emit enough radiation to threaten the northern hemisphere. Read more.
Former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata says full-scale releases from Fukushima “would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.”
Read more. Meanwhile, tanks used to hold radioactive water are leaking. Read more. Watch here. For a general introduction from scientist Arnie Gundersen: Watch here. The big question - what if there is another earthquake in Japan in the next three years? here. What are the signs that the West Coast of the USA may be getting hit harder than is being reported? Learn more here and here.

'Worst' of Climate Predictions Are the Most Likely: New Study

A new study finds that the worst case scenario is the most likely: "The research predicts that global temperatures will likely rise at least 4°C by 2100 and potentially more than 8°C by 2200 if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced and serious actions by governments and society are not taken." Read more. Reduced? On the contrary. Everything points to an explosion of cheap fossil fuels in the next decade. A glut of fuel means cheaper gas; cheaper gas will mean less interest in alternative fuels and more waste.

Fukushima and Slave Labor

Recently out of work? Unemployment benefits running out? Looking for work? Why not go to Japan? Looking to build up your resume in the up and coming nuclear clean-up industry? Or maybe you'd just like to experience being recruited by the Japanese mafia? For less than minimum wage you can get a job in Fukushima cleaning up radioactive waste. Of course, by the time you pay for your lodging and food you'll find yourself in debt (not counting the air fare to get to Japan or post-job medical expenses). Read more here and here.

2013 Fossil Fuel Disasters

What a Year: 45 Fossil Fuel Disasters the Industry Doesn't Want You to Know About ...Will you want to memorize this list? Probably not. And it may not make for the kind of polite dinner talk that others will enjoy. Here are a few ideas for New Year's dinner party conversation starters: "Do you think that 2014 will have more or less fossil fuel disasters than 2013?" Okay. How about: What happened on March 29, 2013? Answer: An ExxonMobil pipeline carrying...Read more. Not sure if that'll get the party started. Well, how about this:
Let's see if there was a disaster on your birthday?...Who was born on [pick a disaster date]?" The winner gets a gift certificate to the local gas station.
Well, if these ideas don't float we could always invent a new version of the board game "Sorry": 45 squares to move around the board (one for each disaster); a deck of cards. You can draw a disaster - which will allow you to move your "car" to the matching square. Positive and negative numbers that move you either forward or backwards. The goal is to "drive" your car to the final square - "a gas station". Enjoy. For ages 4 - 94.