Monday, February 12, 2007

An inconvenient truth

This weekend I decided to watch Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth which is nominated for an academy award in the best documentary category.

All I can say is I was astounded. It's presented in the form of a college lecture--he's currently going about the country giving lectures about global warming and at one point says he's given about a thousand of the lectures--and he skillfully interweaves the huge threat to our environment with the relevant science which he explains in a manner that everyone can understand.

One concept he explains relates to the hitherto unknown levels of carbon dioxide found in the atmosphere today which prevent the sun's heat from leaving our atmosphere and thus contributes to global warming and changing weather patterns. Scientist have been able to go back hundreds of thousands of years by analyzing ancient ice cores, back though four ice ages, and have discovered we now have levels of carbon dioxide that are already twice as high as has ever been found on earth before. Gore illustrates how these unprecedented concentrations of carbon dioxide will continue to rise if left unchecked by climbing aboard a lift device used to raise studio lights and cameramen in film studios and having it rise in sync with an adjacent graph delineating the increase in carbon dioxide levels. It rises and rises until Gore is looking down at us as if from a mountain.

He also employs the canary in the coal mine analogy in two instances. One of the canaries is Greenland which is covered in a huge sheet of ice and is one of two ice sheets that work to keep temperature and climate regulated throughout the world. Greenland is melting at an astonishing and frightening rate. Should it melt completely, the world's oceans and seas will rise to such an extent that 60 million human beings will be displaced, including people in California, Manhattan, Europe (Holland will be totally under water) China and India. The list goes on and on. Displacing 60 million people can lead to a lot of global unrest it also should not be forgotten.

The depth of Gore's passion for this cause is illustrated by the comparison to the love he has for his son who almost died in a dreadful road accident. He states he could not imagine losing his son and the viewer can easily extrapolate and see he cannot imagine that we would lose this battle to save our environment. At times throughout the video, Gore's voice cracks with genuine emotion for the cause and only but the most resolutely determined to deny the truth he is telling will fail to be moved. He ends the piece with a warning that we must act now to save the planet and the United States must play a leading role because we are the largest economy and largest polluter, with Europe and China running a distant second and third respectively. It is disgraceful that this great nation has not ratified the Kyoto Agreement. It is clear each of us are personally responsible for the wellbeing of the world's environment and must adjust our activities to stop contributing to global warming. It is not by coincidence that foreign car manufacturers like Toyota are gaining market share at the expense of American car manufacturers who still insist on producing gas-guzzling SUVs' and are only half-heartedly investing in alternative fuel technologies. And it is a disgrace that Ford, GM and Chrysler cannot export vehicles manufactured in the States to China because they do not have products that meet China's more stringent anti-pollution standards. Yes, China has more stringent emission requirements than the United States. If this is not an indictment of our uncaring attitudes and destructive arrogance, what is?

Gore states we can change our fate but the window is closing. We took action and repaired the hole in our ozone layer. As Gore says there can be corporate profits and proper custodianship of the environment. We must stop buying into the nefarious propaganda of corporations who pay lobbyists to find scientists and offer them large sums of money to propitiate the lie that there is no link between man's industrial activities and global warming, etc. The debate is now over. 99% of the scientific community recognize the insidious link. It's time to end our indifference and stop the ridiculous hand-wringing and wailing "but what can I do?" as we drive around in these SUVs and crank up our air-conditioners during the summer and heat in the winter. It's time to think about holding the industries that damage the environment legally responsible and force them to make the necessary changes so future generations can enjoy a good, healthy and stable world.

Regardless of one's political party affiliation, we should all be immensely grateful to have a man like Al Gore trying to stir our indifferent consciences and stop global warming .


Carol Gee said...

Yours is the first good summary of Gore's presentation that I have found. Thank you very much for the concise elaboration. It helped me a great deal.

Damian McNicholl said...

Glad it's of help, Carol

Rachel said...


Thanks for the great summary. I just finished watching the movie a few minutes ago, and yes, it's painful that China - a country that allowed leaded gasoline until just a few years ago - is now ahead of the US in vehicle emissions/economy requirements.

And contrary to what some naysayers say, saving energy and the planet will not destroy jobs - there will be plenty of jobs that can be created.

I'll certainly be recommending everyone to watch the movie, and my respect for Al Gore is renewed.