2012's Stupid, Stupid Plan to Save Humanity

2012’s Stupid, Stupid Plan to Save Humanity

We should all just dress up like cute dogs. THEN we’d survive.

A terrible plan.

A terrible plan.

Spoilers for 2012 follow. Although I’m not sure giving away the plot to a special effects pornstravaganza constitutes “spoiling” it. It’s a lot like revealing the plot to an actual porn movie–that’s not really why you rented it in the first place.

Roland Emmerich loves to destroy the earth. 2012 is his third disaster epic, after Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. But there’s one crucial difference this time around, and it’s not just the lack of the word “day” in the film’s title. In 2012, the leaders of the world know about the impending apocalypse. They have years to plan. But the plan they come up with is mystifying stupid. Basically, they keep the news very quiet while they construct a bunch of giant boats high in the Himalayas. This is largely financed by charging the richest people in the world one billion euros for tickets.

Deep breath…

1. Why not just tell everyone? Evil bureaucrat Oliver Platt explains that there would be complete chaos if the truth got out. The important thing is to preserve the human species, and if everyone knows they are going to die in three years, there’s no way they can pull off the logistics of building and stocking giant-ass boats. There’s a certain logic to that. But I also think that if everyone knows they’re going to die in three years, then everyone would work really, really hard to prevent that. Think about how many giant boats could be built if everyone in the world was spending every waking moment welding? Not to mention, the extreme secrecy means that 99.99% of the world’s smartest scientists never even knew about the problem, much less get a chance to solve it. I’m not saying anyone could have stopped the earth’s crust from collapsing. But they could have tried, or at least corrected some of the dumber parts of the ark plan. For instance…

2. Do you really want to put all your eggs in one basket? The scientists are pretty sure that the end of the world will involve mind-boggling earthquakes, monster volcanoes, and tidal waves the size of mountains. That sounds like a pretty unpredictable situation. And of course, those predictions turn out to be completely wrong–it all goes down about eight years ahead of schedule. So given the circumstances, why would you build all your arks in the exact same place? (Yes, you cut down on cost with economies of scale, but nevermind that.) Even if your predictions are totally right, it seems like there’s a pretty good chance the site you chose is going to be destroyed, damaged, or rendered inaccessible (indeed, one ark is damaged in an earthquake). And if that happens, the entire human race is doomed. A better plan? Build an ark on every tall mountain in the world. That way, at least one might make it through the craziness. This also makes things way easier for the people who are coming onboard–you don’t have to travel around the world to get to safety.

A much better plan.

A much better plan.

3. Why boats? The scientists know that the eventual, final straw that will wipe everyone out will be a massive tidal wave. Doesn’t it seem like the best plan is to get off the surface of the earth entirely? A fleet of giant zeppelins would be nice. Instead, they build literal arks. How accurately could they predict the size of the wave they were going to be facing? And how accurately could they predict how a wave like that would act? Not to mention, they had no way of testing these arks–they might not even float, for all we know. They’re gambling the entire species (actually, ALL species) on their ability to predict what kind of tidal wave they will be hit with, and designing a boat that can ride it out. I do not like those odds.

4. Why can’t you start the engines until the door closes? This is a major plot point at the end of the film. The giant back door to one of the arks is unable to close (thanks a lot, John Cussack), and the captain explains that he can’t start the engines until it does. This almost leads to the death of one-third of the human race. Now ask yourself: can you think of one single vehicle ever designed that is completely unable to start its engines with the door open? Even a submarine can start its engines and submerge with the hatch open–it’s just not recommended.

I think there may be certain rides at Disneyworld that can’t start with the door open. That’s it.

17 Comments on “2012’s Stupid, Stupid Plan to Save Humanity”

  1. pzed #

    another stupid thing is the manner in which they tried to save animal species. they took the biblical method of taking 2 of each (at least i didn’t observe more than 2 of anything), and flew them by helicopter up the himalayas. if they animals didn’t die by frostbite, their children would likely die off b/c of the accumulated load of genetic defects from inbreeding.

    one might also wonder about the wisdom of inviting so many billionaires on board. since the only capital goods that would survive the catastrophe would be what was aboard the arks, what good would it do to have ppl that wouldn’t be able to contribute to humanity’s survival except by buying things? ok, so those rich ppl could pay a lot of cash for things… what is there to buy? would a saudi prince who inherited his wealth be as useful as a lowly but proficient sewage technician or fisherman?

    Reply

  2. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @pzed – I totally agree with you about the animals! That is indeed a very stupid thing I completely missed.

    However, I disagree about the billionaires. Remember, based on the data I got from Forbes, I expect there are only 500 or so billionaires on the arks, out of hundreds of thousands of people. Yes, these plutocrats will probably be dead weight in the post-apocalyptic world, and their money will be completely useless. But the fact remains that Oliver Platt and the gang needed their billions, PRE-apocolypse, to make the whole plan work. By taking the 500 billionaires along, they paid for thousands and thousands of NON-billionaires to survive.

    So yes, the Saudi Prince is a lot less useful than the plumber, but taking the Saudi Prince made it POSSIBLE to bring the plumber. I can sort of buy it.

    Reply

  3. pave #

    also how did no one else on the planet see it coming? where are the tweeters? is woody harrelson the only conspiracy nut around? grr.

    Reply

  4. Mads Ejstrup #

    To make the ark plan even more stupid the have built them in the Himalaya. I know that there is not many earthquakes in the Himalaya but they a mountains created by a collison of two tectonic plates. Given the nature of the disaster there is a great chance that the Himalaya would become quite unstable.

    Reply

  5. Brian #

    Yes, why have only one place to build your wonderful arks? (Other than the fact that China is about the only country left with any serious ability to fabricate such a thing.)

    They had to keep it secret or all we would have done is endlessly debate what to do and who should pay for it. (case in point: health care “crisis”)

    What I loved is how all the people that had tickets for the damaged ark were just standing around behind the glass doors. I’ve seen less patient folks at airports, no way they were going to just wait for their boarding call. Especially considering the price of tickets.

    And of course the exotic animals were doomed, but did they save any chickens or cattle? Or grain? What are all these people going to eat when the MREs run out?

    Finally – the world is trashed, hours away from total devastation, and dude in India can still make cell phone calls? I guess there’s a map for that.

    Reply

  6. Tom P #

    4. Why can’t you start the engines until the door closes?

    This is in movies way more often then it should be and it annoys me every time. Thank you for pointing it out.

    Reply

  7. M Chan #

    I finally saw this movie today. I distinctly remember a part of the movie explaining that while seats were sold for 1 billion Euro a pop in order to finance the project, the vast majority of people saved were, in fact, ordinary people. The leaders hired geneticists to select the 800,000 (100K per ark) people who would best repopulate the human genetic pool. So it’s not just about how rich you are, but who your parents are (so to speak).

    Also: among vehicles that can’t start without the hatch closed: most commercial aircraft and the space shuttle.

    Reply

  8. M Chan #

    P.S. Also, interestingly enough, the movie also heavily implied that all the rich people were assigned the same ark (the so-called green ticket) which ended up being the ark that was damaged. If Oliver Platt had his way and all those people were left behind, then ironically none of the people who financed the project would have been ultimately saved.

    Reply

  9. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @M Chan –

    Okay, the bit about hundreds of thousands of people being chosen for their genes raises way WAY more questions than it answers. How, exactly, do you go about finding the most genetically perfect people on Earth? Who gets to decide the criteria? Where do you get everyone’s DNA, and how can you analyze it quickly enough? And more importantly, how are these people told? “The bad news: the world is ending. The good news, we’ve stolen your semen, and we’re very impressed.” And how can you POSSIBLY stop these lucky few from leaking the truth to someone? I believe the billionaires keeping it a secret, because they are douches.

    And wait a minute: isn’t this EUGENICS? Isn’t there something really creepy about picking who get to survive based on their DNA?

    I can definitely understand why the screenwriters decided to skim over this as quickly as possible.

    – Matt

    Reply

    • Dwayne #

      I have been swabed at my doctor for cancer study,knowing as the nurse swabbed both sides of my mouth so I sure they now have my DNA.

      Reply

  10. Aart #

    I stumbled on this site by coincidence. Just wanted to say that I like the kind of perspective you give on films. And thank you for convincing me to watch 2012 after all. It sounds too horrible to pass up.

    Reply

  11. Charlie #

    Zeppelins? Do you know how inefficient that would be? A zeppelin requires a HUGE mass to carry a very small amount of people…

    Reply

    • Dwayne #

      A zeppelin would be close to the size of NYC to carry wall street it would not work. You would be better to put balloons in the sky. And that’s stupid too. Ships would work in more ways than one.Sure build the big arks,but remember all the war ships that are sitting there waiting to be scrapped. Gut the inside and build cells for single peeps and two or three cells for families think if how many could fit in a carrier alone.gut them fill them in time to have all of the warships and anyone with a decent boat u sail for the middle of the oceans and seas that way when the flooding hits land the will be safe at least better than a port or land

      Reply

  12. Jeff #

    If there was a natural disaster of apocalyptic proportion, wouldn’t there be very very strong wind?

    Reply

  13. Jose #

    If everyone knew there wouldn’t be a lot of resources for everyone.

    Reply

    • FDwayne #

      True but make a ship to grow food and meat animals a carrier deck would work as gardens. And both people livestock.goats small but supply milk and meat.cows feed a lot but eats a lot of grass and grain. And so on..poop fertilizer.

      Reply

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