Saturday, August 12, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Palmerston North is civilised enough to get the international film festival (or at least some of it), so tonight I got to see An Inconvenient Truth. It was well worth even the excessive price our local movie monopoly charge for tickets.

There's two stories in this movie. One is the story of climate change, and Gore makes a compelling case that it is happening and that we need to do something about it (he also soundly disposes of the myths put about by the denier lobby, that it isn't and that we can't. Clearly, if it is in our power to create the problem, it is also in our power to fix it...) The other is the story of how he came to be interested in the issue - and this is quite interesting in itself. Gore was introduced to Keeling's early results at university, and they made a lasting impact on him. Even in the 60's, the trend was clear, as was the cause. But sadly, clear trends and causes don't necessarily equate to political action, and there's a lot of wry comments from Gore about his experiences with trying to get Congress to pay attention. Fortunately, we seem to have hit a tipping point around global warming, with enough people finally getting the problem to force governments to take action (even in the US, though there it is states which are leading rather than the federal government). I guess we just have to hope that its not too late...


Whenever I feel despair at the condition of US politics it is comforting to reflect that when offered the choice of George Bush or Al Gore, Americans chose Al Gore.

I thought the film was rather nicely done. I doubt it indicates another presidential run, but I suspect it's calculated to bolster the progressive elements within the Democratic Party against the timid leadership that has failed to function as an opposition.

I expect the attitude towards climate change in the United States to make a sudden jump in the near future from "it's not happening" to "we must pour money into massive companies to solve this problem". I'm not confident that it will rest for any length of time on "we must all do our part".

I can understand why he did it, but I think Gore did conveniently skip one important point: the lag time between reducing our impact and actually seeing results. If we suddenly dropped greenhouse emissions to sustainable levels tomorrow, there's still every chance that Greenland and the West Antarctic will collapse due to the damage we've already done. Best not to end on a downer, I suppose.

Posted by Anonymous : 8/14/2006 09:38:00 AM