Monday, March 5, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

I don't know why the reality of global warming has become a political issue all of a sudden these past couple of years. Wasn't it established decades ago that the earth was getting warmer? Didn't they make the movie Waterworld a whole 12 years ago based on the premise of the ice caps melting? The fact that global warming is real is something I've assumed to be true for as long as I can remember, and I didn't realize that there were people that thought otherwise. Err, is it really possible to have a varying opinion about established scientific facts? Or isn't it simply more likely that the world's leaders have purposely ignored the truth all this time because it was, well, inconvenient?

About two-thirds of the way through his documentary, Al Gore addressed the issue of balancing the economy with the environment. He shows an image of a beam balance weighing scale with some shiny gold bars on one end, and the entire earth on the other end. It's an exaggeration, of course, but it gets the point across: You could have the wealth, but in the big picture isn't there a much greater cause to fight for? Those gold bars certainly look delicious, yes, but... umm, that earth is pretty important too...

Watching An Inconvenient Truth is like attending a global warming lecture with a well-made PowerPoint slideshow, and your teacher happens to be Al Gore. Just like any other college lecture, there were a couple of moments that my mind began to tune out-- but only briefly, because my mind was quick to remind itself that I paid 80 pesos for this. I don't know if the movie is good as far as documentaries go, but it does well to convince you that it is important, and it does a good job at getting its message across in a way that's difficult to ignore.

The most pressing detail that I carried with me out of the movie theater was the fact that the effects of global warming are not just for our grandchildren to experience-- it's happening right now. You can already see how the snow is retreating from snow-capped mountains, and how glaciers are collapsing, and how the map of Antarctica is being redrawn. Aside from the obvious direct effects, we have more hurricanes and typhoons, modified water currents, and the whole circle of life being rerouted to adjust to the changes. The point being made is: Global warming means more than just turning up the electric fans and air conditioners on hot days.

The movie was clearly made to send a message to the people who can make a difference, but perhaps it's a good thing that I'm not in such a position of influence. There's a ruthlessly inquisitive part of me is sort of curious to see the effects of global warming play out in full blast within our lifetime. Wouldn't it be something if, say, a major ice sheet in Greenland or Antarctica were to collapse, quickly raising sea levels by 20 feet and sending 100 million refugees seeking higher ground? And as the US President circles the ruins of Manhattan to survey the damage from aboard his helicopter, a single tear rolls down his cheek and he can only manage to say, barely above a whisper: "We... we should have listened... to Al Gore..."


  1. It's a political issue for the simple reason that the US refuses to sign the Kyoto Protocol. They don't want China to gain too much of an advantage as they steamroll their economic potential.

    Global is a tough sell to those oldies in the Republican Party. About three decades ago, scientists were talking about "global cooling".

    Proving that global warming exists is not the end of the argument. One must prove that human activities are the cause of such things - and not some natural phenomenon.

  2. I have to wonder how Americans can possibly think global warming is nothing but lies (according to certain... people, God made a perfect world, and therefore, it is unchanging).

    I pause for a moment, then I remember exactly how: America is full of goddamn imbeciles.

  3. I'm sure you've read my take on An Inconvenient Truth. But anyway, in terms of persuasive documentaries (those that just not document stuff), I find this one to be very effective. Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 is another persuasive documentary, but you can clearly see that it will turn off some people. Al Gore's lecture, on the other hand, is quite enlightening.

    To echo lateralus, the question is not whether there is global warming. the debate centers on whether the warming is because of humans or because of natural climatological processes.

  4. Oh yeah, the thing is to prove that human activity is to blame for global warming. An Inconvenient Truth presents a lot of evidence for that too... most convincing, I think, is when they say that 100% of scientists surveyed did believe that human activity is at least partly to blame. I trust that all those scientists know more about this stuff than I do.

    I liked Fahrenheit 9/11, but I agree that some people would be "turned off"... It rallied the anti-Bush crowd, but probably only served to make the pro-Bush crowd hate the anti-Bush crowd. >_>

  5. About those scientists? Well, actually, not all of those papers say that humans are to blame for global warming. What the "0%" means is that none of the papers say that humans aren't to blame. Only a minority of the papers mention anything at all about anthropological global warming.

  6. Miguel, the same Americans who believe that God created everything in 7 days, and we're nearing the Rapture.


  7. I do think that global warming is likely caused human activities, but we simply don't have enough of a research baseline to make that conclusion.

    Sea level rise will happen regardless of what we do, I think. But we still need to take care of the air to ensure that we don't get chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer etc.

  8. A lot still think that way. It's nutty. They cause stagnancy. They think this whole issue is fabricated. This part of their conservatism does not serve the world well. The Republicans keep insisting it is a political ploy by the Democrats and others. Even if they should know better.

    Anyway, just want to share my quick blog on it at

    God bless.

    bisaya in Houston, Texas