Saturday, July 29, 2006

an inconvient truth

I saw an inconvient truth thursday night.
It is an up to date multi-media presentation on the current state of the world and the impact of global warming. Here a trailer:

The film features Al Gore... as narrator, presenter, and telling part of his personal story... a story that includes the death of a sister from lung cancer [his dad grew tobacco]; the near death of his 6 year old son, some 20 years ago; the 2000 election loss.

All of these events convinced Gore it was worth devoting himself to a fight that looks unlikely to have a happy ending. Worth his time to go on the road through an endless succession of airports, gamely presenting his climate slideshow to more than 1,000 small audiences in dingy conference rooms around the world.

That the film succeeds at all is a testament to Gore's slideshow, which carefully and methodically covers the fundamentals of climate science, with some recent, shocking studies thrown in for good measure. At each stop on his one-man climate road show, he gets feedback about what works and what doesn't. He discovers roadblocks and obstacles to understanding, as he puts it, and attempts to remove them. He's constantly tapping away on his Mac: adjusting the show, rearranging the order, adding new slides based on new information.

If you have read much on climate change and the stewardship of creation, there is not a lot here that is new. What may be new is the sheer magnitude of the problem.

It's hard to see how anyone could leave the presentation unconvinced that global warming is a problem. There will be points of controversy - you can expect, for instance, to hear agruments over what is really melting the snows of Kilimanjaro, and whether climate change really caused Katrina - but there are so many separate data points, their sheer weight adds up.

Gore comes off well playing the professor. He was hobbled as a political candidate in an era that mistakes folksy soundbites for wisdom; he sucks at the folksy soundbite. But when he's got 1.5 hours of your time, he loses the robotic bearing and relaxes. As a professor, he's affable, self-effacing, and patiently, steadily persuasive.

Inevitably, some will see the film as Al Gore’s attempt to ride on the wings of this issue back into the White House. It could be part of his motivation - he’s human. But the facts certainly seem to be there. And what comes across clearly, is a deep sense of commitment and a fundamental decency - Gore is willing to keep dragging himself off the mat, trudging on, working to transcend his own failings as a politician and an advocate. He's trying. How many people can say the same?

It's interesting that as I have read some reviews of the film, a common theme is:
  • we agree on the urgency of stewardship of our environment. Christians have long been guilty of ignoring this, though there seems to be a recent shifting;
  • we agree that it appears reasonably certain that something is happening in the climate, and that it may well have effects on us that could be disastrous;
  • but there is a problem, and that’s the role of human activity in these changes;
  • there is certainly no agreement in the scientific communty — despite Al Gore and much of the press — that human activity has or can have a significant effect on global climate;
  • the argument is that the earth undergoes regular climatic changes, many of which are cyclic in nature. Some cycles are many years long, but are reliably regular in nature;
  • one of the examples used by naysayers is that, the people crying the loudest about global warming are the same ones who warned us just a few years back about the ozone hole, which was grossly exaggerated. [interestingly, we have drastically reduced the amount of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) compounds]
My sense is that people just don't want to believe the facts that Gore presents, and unless Gore is deliberately distorting the facts... which is tough to do since the scientific community is watching... then the charts he puts up are really frightening.
  • the CO2 content of our atmosphere is higher than at any time in history;
  • the temperature of the ocean has climbed beyond what even scientists thought possible;
  • the rate of melting of glaciers worldwide is phenomenal;
  • the rapidity of melting in Greenland and Antartica in amazing.
Does Gore oversimplify the issue?
Sure, he does. The reasons for global warming are multiple and complex.
But even if human beings are only 50% responsible, its time to act.

I think Gore hits on a key issues for many in North America [& especially Americans] when he asks if addressing global warming will result in economic changes? And isn't this really a key part of the issue? We are often not prepared to make changes for the benefit of others (including the planet) if it will impact my pocketbook negatively in the short term.

Where does Canada stand?
We ratified the KYOTO Protocol in 2002. But when the Conservatives came to power that commitment was rescinded in favor of local solutions. Alberta has led the charge against the Protocol.

For more information go to the web site associated with the movie: Climate Crisis.

For a Christian organization dedicated to caring for the environment see A Rocha - thanks to Len for the link

See also Greenpeace.

1 comment:

michael lewis said...

Think Different.

As I saw this film with two other Macophiles, we couldn't help but notice that this seemed like a commercial for Apple. But who cares? I mean, if someone was supporting the Truth of the Gospel, should we mind?

It is a known fact that windows sucks. And any computer that windows is running on produces CO2 at alarming rates.

It is no coincidence that people who use Macs are smarter, prettier, and better than other people. It's because we care about the world we live in. Just like Al Gore.

When was the last time I drove to work? 4 years ago. I got rid of my car because I care about the earth.

My little bit may not be enough to make any impact at all, but at least I used a Mac, vote Democrat, and have therefore have the acceptance of Jesus.