Through first-hand testimony The Bliss of Ignorance investigates South Africa’s complex relationship with one of the country’s most abundant resources: coal.
With experts predicting the creation of a “sick” generation in the Mpumalanga region (which is home to 12 of the world’s largest power stations), this documentary looks at the impact of South Africa’s energy policy – particularly the support for Eskom’s coal-fired power stations – on public health. In February 2015 energy giants Eskom were granted five years grace from complying with atmospheric emission standards, making this film ever more timely and relevant.
Set against the wider climate change debate, The Bliss of Ignorance highlights how the mining and burning of coal affects the environment; polluting air and valuable water resources in a water-scarce country. In 2012, 17,000 people in Carolina, Mpumalanga were left without water because their local supply was polluted by acid mine drainage.
While making The Bliss of Ignorance the filmmaker visited Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town interviewing scientists, lawyers, professors, campaigners, doctors, university lecturers and representatives from Eskom. He also lived in a township in Mpumalanga to learn first hand from residents about the main health impacts and how pollution is affecting their lives and the lives of their children.