Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Al Gore for President. Of the world.

Fat Albert (Gore) needs to spend less time behind his laptop and chauffer and more on a bike or treadmill. Those were the first thoughts that went through my mind when I watched his new movie today “AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH”. Before the movie I was warned by a credible liberal friend that the movie might seem like “too much Gore” and not enough “global warming”. The one positive thing about global warming is that it has thawed out Gore-the-bore. By the end of the movie I was in tears and hoping Gore would run for President….of the world.

As an environmentalist I’ve always taken for granted that human behavior is hurting the planet (Daaa. Squared!!). Especially American behavior (sorry my American amigos). For me, the Gore movie clearly documents this reality and the looming global consequence. But, the movie is more like a science lecture than a movie (I only nodded off 6 times. That’s a compliment…I usually nap solidly during most science lectures).

Fact is, I laughed out loud at least 3 times and got choked up at least 4. Mostly from being inspired by what a committed soul has done with his life… and, may yet do…if he has enough listeners and followers.

Global warming is solvable. And, like I have said many times over the last 20 years, fighting global warming full on and head on…won’t impoverish us, it will enrich our nation and the world. Like waging any war, it will stimulate the economy. But this war will even save lives…instead of destroying them, and increase the manufacture of useful tools instead of deadly ones.

Don’t get me wrong. I still only hold global warming as the third greatest threat we face. Infectious diseases being the greatest, and the nexus between war, terrorism and biological weapons the second. The vital point (and I believe Gore would agree on this) is that all of these issues are interconnected…and can be, and must be addressed at once. Funding poor people to plant trees and giving greater tax breaks and other government rewards to those who live lightly on the land will help reduce poverty, lessen infectious disease threats and lead to fewer armed conflicts.

We as humans do have the capacity to “rise above” our problems and solve them. We also have the capacity for laziness, genocide and denial. If you are a betting person it would be safer to put your money on the latter three. If we want to live a richer, happier, more healthy and meaningful life we would invest far more time into the higher capacity.

I don’t want to give away the ending of this movie …so I’ll simply state, “I never thought a single pixel would move me to tears.” See the freakin’ movie!!!!

Fat Albert for President! Of the world.

(for a more reasoned assessment read movie critic Roger Ebert essay below.

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
By Roger Ebert
dailykos.com
June 2, 2006

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/6/2/19318/43872

I want to write this review so every reader will begin it and finish it. I
am a liberal, but I do not intend this as a review reflecting any kind of
politics. It reflects the truth as I understand it, and it represents, I
believe, agreement among the world's experts.

Global warming is real.

It is caused by human activity.

Mankind and its governments must begin immediate action to halt and reverse
it.

If we do nothing, in about 10 years the planet may reach a "tipping point"
and begin a slide toward destruction of our civilization and most of the
other species on this planet.

After that point is reached, it would be too late for any action.

These facts are stated by Al Gore in the documentary "An Inconvenient
Truth." Forget he ever ran for office. Consider him a concerned man speaking
out on the approaching crisis. "There is no controversy about these facts,"
he says in the film. "Out of 925 recent articles in peer-review scientific
journals about global warming, there was no disagreement. Zero."

He stands on a stage before a vast screen, in front of an audience. The
documentary is based on a speech he has been developing for six years, and
is supported by dramatic visuals. He shows the famous photograph
"Earthrise," taken from space by the first American astronauts. Then he
shows a series of later space photographs, clearly indicating that glaciers
and lakes are shrinking, snows are melting, shorelines are retreating.

He provides statistics: The 10 warmest years in history were in the last 14
years. Last year South America experienced its first hurricane. Japan and
the Pacific are setting records for typhoons. Hurricane Katrina passed over
Florida, doubled back over the Gulf, picked up strength from unusually warm
Gulf waters, and went from Category 3 to Category 5. There are changes in
the Gulf Stream and the jet stream. Cores of polar ice show that carbon
dioxide is much, much higher than ever before in a quarter of a million
years. It was once thought that such things went in cycles. Gore stands in
front of a graph showing the ups and downs of carbon dioxide over the
centuries. Yes, there is a cyclical pattern. Then, in recent years, the
graph turns up and keeps going up, higher and higher, off the chart.

The primary man-made cause of global warming is the burning of fossil fuels.
We are taking energy stored over hundreds of millions of years in the form
of coal, gas and oil, and releasing it suddenly. This causes global warming,
and there is a pass-along effect. Since glaciers and snow reflect sunlight
but sea water absorbs it, the more the ice melts, the more of the sun's
energy is retained by the sea.

Gore says that although there is "100 percent agreement" among scientists, a
database search of newspaper and magazine articles shows that 57 percent
question the fact of global warming, while 43 percent support it. These
figures are the result, he says, of a disinformation campaign started in the
1990s by the energy industries to "reposition global warming as a debate."
It is the same strategy used for years by the defenders of tobacco. My
father was a Luckys smoker who died of lung cancer in 1960, and 20 years
later it was still "debatable" that there was a link between smoking and
lung cancer. Now we are talking about the death of the future, starting in
the lives of those now living.

"The world won't 'end' overnight in 10 years," Gore says. "But a point will
have been passed, and there will be an irreversible slide into destruction."

In England, Sir James Lovelock, the scientist who proposed the Gaia
hypothesis (that the planet functions like a living organism), has published
a new book saying that in 100 years mankind will be reduced to "a few
breeding couples at the Poles." Gore thinks "that's too pessimistic. We can
turn this around just as we reversed the hole in the ozone layer. But it
takes action right now, and politicians in every nation must have the
courage to do what is necessary. It is not a political issue. It is a moral
issue."

When I said I was going to a press screening of "An Inconvenient Truth," a
friend said, "Al Gore talking about the environment! Bor...ing!" This is not
a boring film. The director, Davis Guggenheim, uses words, images and Gore's
concise litany of facts to build a film that is fascinating and relentless.
In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here
they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you
have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.

Am I acting as an advocate in this review? Yes, I am. I believe that to be
"impartial" and "balanced" on global warming means one must take a position
like Gore's. There is no other view that can be defended. Sen. James Inhofe
(R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, has said, "Global
warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." I
hope he takes his job seriously enough to see this film. I think he has a
responsibility to do that.

What can we do? Switch to and encourage the development of alternative
energy sources: Solar, wind, tidal, and, yes, nuclear. Move quickly toward
hybrid and electric cars. Pour money into public transit, and subsidize the
fares. Save energy in our houses. I did a funny thing when I came home after
seeing "An Inconvenient Truth." I went around the house turning off the
lights.

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