Idleness Personified

Making Sense of a Madly Busy World

An inconvenient truth

Posted by rastamad on September 5, 2006

inconvenient-truth-poster1.jpgON my return flight to Manila yesterday after almost two weeks in Kuala Lumpur to attend a new media training, I was switching channels in search of a movie to while away the three-hour travel time enroute to a stopover in Hong Kong. Of Cathay Pacific‘s in-flight entertainment menu for September, I was easily drawn to the documentary featuring former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and how he makes a compelling case for an equally crucial global campaign besides the one being waged against the world’s leaders’ current preoccupation — terrorism.

The issue: averting climate change and global warming, of which Gore is a known longtime advocate.

In “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore takes center stage as he — in a demeanor more resembling a professor than a politician — gives a multimedia lecture to draw attention to the perils of global warming as a result of the dramatic increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil, and clearing of forests. Documentary director Davis Guggenheim also weaves in heartwarming biographical sketches of the defeated U.S. presidential candidate who first became aware of the problem as a college student. (View the trailer here.)

One of Gore’s professors in Harvard University, Roger Revelle, was the first scientist to propose measuring the carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. Revelle’s experiments began in 1958 and in the intervening decades, the scientific research became a moral issue for Gore that has led him on a global roadshow to convince people of the “inescapable imperative to avert climate change through changing our lifestyles.”

Serving to underscore Gore’s argument are his own country’s failure, along with Australia, to honor the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to and its lamenatable record on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. For one, the Bush administration maintains that the threat of global warming is not severe enough to warrant new pollution controls.

In the film, Gore, who has also come out with a bestselling book carrying the same title, enumerates the frightening consequences of rising temperatures already evident in melting glaciers, plants and animals being forced from their habitat, and the increasing number of severe storms and droughts.

The former vice president also warns of changes of even more apocalyptic proportions if the warming continues, including global sea levels rising by more than 20 feet with the loss of shelf ice in Greenland and Antarctica, that could devastate coastal areas worldwide.

The film recently received backing from the conclusion of a Congress-commissioned study of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that the Earth’s present temperature is “unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia.”

The 155-page NAS report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about one degree during the 20th century, citing human activities as responsible for much of the recent warming.

But the scientific community is divided on the issue, with climate experts contesting the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing significant global climate change.

The scientific debate notwithstanding, “An Inconvenient Truth” has earned praises from film reviewers, received standing ovations when it was shown at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and was conferred a special rcognition from the Humanitas Prize, which honors screenwriting that helps “liberate, enrich and unify society.”

The 100-minute film is still being shown in selected theaters in the U.S. Hopefully the DVD version of the documentary is already locally available. Because as critic Roger Ebert advised, and after watching it myself, regardless of political affiliations, “(y)ou owe it to yourself to see this film.”

For more information, visit the official site.

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3 Responses to “An inconvenient truth”

  1. hello rastamad.. i’m not rasta, nor am i mad.. but i’m tamad…since i’m a newbie in this techie techie world.. i’d like to ask something.i’m not sure if this is the right place to ask.. but what tools did you use for the pcij.org site? is the content management done with joomla? thanks.

  2. tohca1 said

    Seems like it’s awfully quiet here. Thought I’d say thank you for sharing such a good article.

    Cheers!
    The Malaysian Explorer

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