Importance of Natural Resources

VGATW Season 3 Episode 10 – Final Fantasy VII and the Environment


Hey gamers! This is Gian of VGATW. Today we are having a conversation about the
pro-environmental message of Final Fantasy VII as said on the title. In this day and age we have lots of conversations
about the environment, climate change and how we can prevent global warming. So, I decided to play Final Fantasy VII once
more and learn about it’s pro-environmental message. Now, in terms of climate change, there are
more and more people believing in it every day. But some, well, they just do not think it’s
real like a certain someone I cannot even mention. Yeah, this is another Final Fantasy themed
episode. We talked about Final Fantasy this season
regarding the re-telling of the War of the Roses and the Hundred Years War. But since the remake is coming on March, I
want to take this opportunity to talk about the message of pro-environmentalism in this
game. And like in the episode of Final Fantasy Tactics
that I spoke of, the game sends a message about the abuse of power. As you all know, Final Fantasy VII is one
of the most loved and respected titles of the series. It is the first game in the series to feature
3D rendered characters, CGI scenarios and a compelling storyline that spawned sequels
and prequels. Now, this will have major spoilers from the
original game and also that of it’s prequel, Crisis Core. You’ve been warned. Let us begin. The story of Final Fantasy VII is about a
mercenary called Cloud Strife, who joins an ecoterrorist group called AVALANCHE. This group is dedicated to fight against the
powerful Shinra corporation, which is using Mako Reactors to drain the Planet of it’s
life blood called “Mako” to use as a source of energy. The more Mako the reactors drain, the more
it pollutes the planet, killing it. What begins as a battle against a tyrannical
corporation, would later become a battle to save the world from impending doom. Everyone loves this game so much due to the
story, visuals, music, gameplay and graphics. However, this game was talking about what
happens if we willingly let our planet continue to be polluted to the point where it becomes
unstable that our ozone layer is destroyed, causing the polar ice caps to melt and flood
our world “Waterworld” style. (Good movie even if so many hate it in my
opinion) As said in the story, the militant eco-terrorist
group called AVALANCHE is trying to stop an evil corporation known as Shinra Inc. from
destroying the planet in pursuit of Mako energy. In the beginning prior to the events of the
game, the Shinra was a weapons manufacturing company. But then, they discovered a process to refine
the Planet’s life energy, the Lifestream, into a form of energy they dubbed “Mako”. Capitalizing on this revolutionary energy
source, the company installed Mako Reactors all over the globe, and their influence and
financial gains grew by leaps and bounds. Shinra Inc. branched out into many cutting-edge
industries, most prominently genetics engineering research. Head executive President Shinra saw the developed
world become dependent on the company’s Mako energy and various other commodities, and
further tightened his grip on the Planet. Shinra acts as a de-facto world government
that builds Mako reactors in each occupied town or region. These reactors absorb the planet’s lifeblood,
the Lifestream, into a form of energy they called “Mako” to use it as a nonrenewable
source. But by doing so at the same time they pollute
the planet and kill it very slowly. And in one part of the game during our heroes
journey, Bugenhagen states that should all the Lifestream be absorbed, the planet will
die. In this world, national armies have been replaced
by Shinra’s private military, becoming a force that exists to defend a corporation’s
assets instead of a civilian population. Indeed, that same military is frequently turned
against the citizens a national army would exist to protect. An example of military action against those
who oppose the company, is the Wutai War. The people of Wutai refused to let the Shinra
build a Mako reactor and thus economically rule the nation like the rest of the world. Godo Kisaragi led a resistance against the
Shinra, but the company had advantage over them. How? They had more advanced technology such as
planes, machine guns, robots and the genetically enhanced special forces unit called SOLDIER. Godo Kisaragi, after putting up so much resistance,
surrendered the control of his homeland to Shinra. To show his surrender, he banned the use of
Materia. Wutai, once the last bastion of resistance
against Shinra, was reduced to a tourist trap. Yuffie Kisaragi, disgusted with her father’s
capitulation, left Wutai to search the world for Materia that could save her homeland. Shinra became the unquestioned ruler of the
Planet. Shinra opted to privatize the job of Midgar’s
urban development by offering the responsibility to one of its board members, and now half
of that city’s population lives in garbage-riddled subterranean ghettos. When forced to choose, a corporate government
always prioritizes its own economic well-being over its citizens’ livelihoods—President
Shinra, in one of his final acts before his death, even slaughters an entire neighborhood
to wipe out the six activists threatening his operation. Being as incompetent as he is heartless, he
only manages to eliminate three. On that note, Corel was a coal-mining village
whose citizens were concerned their industry was becoming obsolete. Shinra convinced the town to allow the construction
of one of their hazardous Mako reactors by promising them new prosperity and the preservation
of their way of life. At first Barrett supported this, but his friend
Dyne was not. Because he was very protective of his old
way of life and the coal miners. When that reactor malfunctioned, Shinra blamed
the citizens of Corel and, as retribution, ordered its private military to destroy the
town and massacre its people. Gold Saucer, the aforementioned amusement
park, was built on the ruins. The survivors established North Corel, the
derelict slum by which it’s accessed. Those sorts of promises do not get kept. The Shinra also had control of the media and
created a propaganda news service known as “Shinra News”, whose main purpose is to declare
those considered disloyal to Shinra dead and to distort events to Shinra’s favor. In protest to Shinra Inc.’s lies, an anti-Shinra
news service called “Shinra Truths” appeared. (Both can be viewed as emails in Crisis Core
-Final Fantasy VII-.) When the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE was
formed to combat the Shinra, many people have been killed during attacks on Mako reactors
in Midgar. Both Shinra troops and innocents alike. According to Barrett Wallace, casualties are
a part of war. Which indeed it is true as both enemy soldiers
die, and innocents are tragically caught in the crossfire. However, the Shinra destroy Sector 7 as a
warning to those who oppose them. Which actually proves how evil they truly
are in trying to protect their work in contaminating the planet. A representative comment about the corporation
is Barrett saying, “They’re evil and destroyin’ our planet just to…build their power and
line their own damn pockets with gold! If we don’t get rid of them, they’re gonna
kill this planet!” The downfall of the Shinra began when President
Shinra is murdered by Sephiroth, who plans to summon Meteor and destroy the planet. The president’s son, Rufus Shinra, takes over
the company. And he is even MORE ruthless than his own
father as he plans to control the world with fear. What the Shinra are looking for to start their
Neo-Midgar project is the Promised Land, so they can exploit the large supply of Mako
energy. But their dreams are cut short as Sephiroth
summons Meteor. The Weapons, the Planet’s defense mechanism,
are awakened, and attack Shinra’s sites of power. Shinra fails to destroy the Meteor with the
Shinra No. 26 rocket, a relic of its short-lived space exploration program. In an attempt to destroy the energy barrier
created by Sephiroth at North Crater, Shinra fires the Sister Ray, a powerful Mako cannon,
at it. Its beam also destroys Diamond Weapon that
fires a salvo of energy, damaging the Shinra Building. While the world is facing a crisis, the AVALANCHE
group, fights of the Shinra who are trying to obtain Huge Materia by stealing it from
various places such as Fort Condor, North Corel, the bottom of the sea near Junon and
the Shinra No.26 rocket. In the end, AVALANCHE emerges victorious against
the Shinra, and three years later it is reborn as the World Regenesis Organization to help
restore the Planet. Final Fantasy VII was released in 1997 and
in that same year there were environmental concerns such as one of the most severe El
Niño events in recorded history; concern over a hole in the ozone layer had become
mainstream; and December of that year would see the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. Even people would protest against the Canadian
mining company called Barrick Gold due to contaminating many areas such as Cotui in
the Dominican Republic. We also know how the Shinra wanted to put
a reactor in Corel, but later destroyed the town after the reactor malfunctioned. Dyne was the one who spoke against it. Similarly in real life, we remember the incident
in North Dakota with the access pipeline, which so many people were strongly against. A militarized state police force cracked down
on private citizens to protect the business interests of an energy corporation. Already, there is talk of defunding, privatizing,
or eliminating public services as vital as social security, the Corporation For Public
Broadcasting and the public school system. Already the Secret Service is becoming something
closer to Shinra’s similarly black-suited Turks, now that they’re also being tasked
with defending a privately owned tower named for a corporate autocrat. Already, like President Shinra, a gasbag who
sleazed and bullied his way into power is condoning violence against his own citizens
and has signaled his willingness to forcibly quell dissent. Many bad presidents and leaders can be very
similar to Rufus Shinra, loving the sound of their own voices. Tyrants like these use their newly acquired
position as the most powerful men (and women) in the world to pursue their agenda of personal
enrichment and glorification. When it comes to the game talking about environmentalism,
it doesn’t focus on the dangers of taking long showers, failing to turn off the lights
or the TV when leaving the room, etc. Instead, it focuses on blaming those in power
for polluting the planet. There are bad leaders that abuse their power
to obtain what they want and believing that it is for the good of all. They would go so far in killing people to
protect their power and own interests. They would even eliminate people with the
slightest form of dissidence as well. There are always those in power on the verge
of repeating a senseless and deadly mistake. In the game we know that when Sephiroth summons
Meteor, the Weapons awaken and indiscriminately destroy various areas due to humanity’s willful
ruination of the planet. This is a natural analogue for the disasters
of climate change. With a climate-change denying leader entrusting
someone with the same view running environmental protection, it is more than likely that the
world will suffer a crisis. Eight years after the release of Final Fantasy
VII, we had a movie sequel titled Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. The movie retcons humanity’s destruction
and offers the world a chance to heal, even extending redemption to Rufus Shinra. We might be just the same as Cloud and his
allies during the beginning and conclusion of their journey regarding the fight to protect
the environment. All I can say is that although the game doesn’t
talk about wasting water by taking long-showers, failing to turn off the TV and the lights
when leaving the room, it tells about what happens to our world if we ignore the environmental
disasters that are to occur due to our willful destruction of the planet. Writing this episode makes me say that we
have to come together in cleaning the environment and encourage others to do the same. Because as a species, all we have is one planet. We are not like scientifically advanced enough
to find a planet capable of sustaining human life. I believe in recycling as well, because that
helps save our planet. Kind of like Jeff Goldblum’s character in
the movie Independence Day. I can’t wait for the FF7 remake and play the
heck out of it. Hopefully it has that same message as well. Until next time gamers, this is Gian of VGATW. Have a good one!


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