Friday, June 30, 2006

The inconvenient truth

As you might guess from my previous post, I saw An Inconvenient Truth earlier today. The movie is basically the global warming slide-show lecture that Al Gore has been touring the US with (and the world) in an effort to raise awareness of this issue interspersed with clips where Gore talks about his personal life and what motivates him to devote his time to this topic.

After viewing it, I can see why Michael Shermer transformed from a global warming skeptic to a global warming activist after seeing the film which "shocked [him] out of [his] doubting stance." The movie is extremely compelling. The images of mountains and valleys once covered with snow and glaciers now dry and barren is visually shocking, while the data presented illustrates that we are unreaching unprecedented levels of CO2. And the potential consequences are deadly.

Gore also demonstates the political ploy of fomenting doubt that industry has engaged in to stall taking action on climate change, noting a leaked industry memo that explicitly states an intention to convince the public that warming is "theory not fact." He then shows that a survey of 10% of the climate change literature contained zero articles that argued the consensus on global warming, contrasting that to the popular literature in which around 50% of articles expressed doubt as to the consensus on warming. He draws a comparison to what the tobacco industry did with smoking and lung cancer, adding a personal note by admitting that his family had been in the tobacco industy until his sister died from lung cancer.

Its difficult for me to express how engaging this film is (Ebert does a better job, he's the professional, afterall.) There were moments during the film that you could hear the audience gasp in dismay or shock at various images. An image of an antarctic ice sheet breaking apart and falling into the ocean in a 30 day span - a phenomenon previously thought unthinkable by scientists - is one such image.

Gore speculates that one of the big reasons why we have failed to recognize the seriousness of climate change is because if we were to acknowledge it we would be faced with a moral imperative to take action. We have it within our grasp to affect positive change, what we lack is the political will, but (in what I thought the most powerful moment in the movie) Gore reminds that in this nation "political will is a renewable resource."

The end credits are mixed with bits of advice of what a person can do about climate change. Only one person in the audience did not sit through the entire roll of credits, and at the end, the crowd gave the film a standing ovation. It was a very moving experience, and I would recommend the film to anyone who cares about their planet.

1 comment:

Raznor said...

I saw the movie at the Writer's Guild Theater in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago (thanks to my brother) and I was actually quite surprised how genuinely funny Gore could be, in ways besides the featured Futurama film strip.

But to me the most compelling piece of evidence is the chart of C02 in the atmosphere for the past 600,000 years (I think it was 600,000 at least). Pretty tough to argue with that.