2.09.2007

what i'm watching: an inconvenient truth

We finally saw "An Inconvenient Truth" last night. I thought it was truly excellent. A huge amount of complex information is conveyed in a very clear, straightforward and compelling way - and that is the highest compliment one can pay a movie like this. I've written some educational videos, and let me tell you, it is not a simple thing to do. I think Al Gore and his team have done a brilliant job.

Several wmtc readers said they found the segments about Gore himself jarring or intrusive. I did not. I think the movie is also a personal journey or quest. It's about, in some sense, why Gore made the movie. I think that personal piece might make it more compelling for some viewers.

I admire Gore tremendously for dedicating himself to educating the public this way, for committing the time, energy and resources to what is clearly the most important issue of our time. If Gore wants to be part of the story, well, why shouldn't he be? Who doesn't want recognition for their work? Who among us is so free of ego that we don't want credit for our own efforts? After losing the presidency, Gore could have chosen any path: he chose public service. And this, to my mind, is true public service.

I noticed that many of the points made in the movie are ones I read about in more detail in Jared Diamond's Collapse, which I blogged about here, among other entries. If "An Inconvenient Truth" interested you, if you've read about global warming in the newspaper or heard about it on TV, but haven't explored it further, and don't know where to start, I highly recommend reading Collapse.

I loved Gore's quick run-through of examples of human beings radically changing the world, from the American Revolution to the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa. It's so important to remember that humans have created very positive - and completely radical - change. It's so easy to be cynical, to feel hopeless. But it's vitally important not to succumb to those feelings, to focus on what we can do. Gore makes a great point about how people often go straight from denial to hopelessness: "It's not happening, but if it is, there's nothing we can do about it." That skipped step in the middle is what could save our lives.

I also liked the pie chart illustrating how small changes add up incrementally. One sliver for this, another for that... and you've restored hope. This made me feel better about any little steps that I've taken, and it inspired me to go further. I can't be the only one who felt that way - proof that this movie can do a lot of good.

Two things in the past year have greatly influenced my thinking about the environment. I was not a global warming denier, and I've always tried to do my little share for conservation, my habits falling somewhere in that vast middle ground between off-the-grid simple living and wasteful disregard. But two things have brought me a sense of greater clarity and urgency, and gave me more tools to think, write and talk about the issue, using both hard facts and personal, human observations. One was my trip to Peru. The second was reading Collapse. Now I'll add a third: "An Inconvenient Truth".

Did you see that tickets for Gore's appearance in Toronto sold out in minutes? In Boise, Idaho, his appearance had to moved to a larger venue to accommodate the huge demand, and 10,000 tickets sold in 90 minutes.

21 comments:

MSS said...

I thought I was the last person in North America not to have seen it. Well, maybe now I am.

L-girl said...

First I had to wait for the DVD, then I was waiting for Zip.ca (our Netflix) to send it to me. I was having major trouble with Zip.

Lexia said...

I find it hugely ironic that the Naderites, most of whom listed the environment as their No. 1 priority, threw the 2000 election for G.W. Bush.


My sister, whose two unpicketed abortions in the 1970's allowed her a convenient and unprincipled career in law, never lifted a finger to fight for women's rights. Like those who championed South Africa's struggling majority while ignoring the rollback in U.S. civil rights law, she found mute trees and animals a far more convenient cause than the welfare of other people in her own country. I knew, even as I held my nose and voted for Gore, that the only thing he was passionate about was the environment. I also knew that Bush and Cheyney were far worse than Gore and Lieberman.

I still can't believe that it was the environmentalists that gave the U.S. and the world George W. Bush, out of spite. But they did.

L-girl said...

I find it hugely ironic that the Naderites, most of whom listed the environment as their No. 1 priority, threw the 2000 election for G.W. Bush.

The election was thrown all right, but you've got the wrong arm.

I proudly voted for Nader in 1996 and 2000. I don't know what a Naderite is and I never listed the environment as my #1 priority, but if you think that's what happened to the 2000 election, you are living in a dreamworld.

What the fuck your sister's reproductive choices have to do with it is anybody's guess.

With any luck you won't come back to explain this mess of a comment.

James said...

What people seem to miss when they tag environmentalists as only concerned about "mute trees and animals" is that humans and human economy are completely dependent on the environment.

If global warming continues, the grain-growing zones in North America will shift north -- almost entirely to Canada -- decimating the US farming economy. If sea levels rise, the economic damage to major ports around the world will make New Orleans look like it got off easy with Katrina.

The flip side is the anti-action argument that doing something about climate change would be "too expensive" -- as if the money spent on improved technology for cleaner factories, alternate fuels for cars, &c, wasn't going to be pumped right into the economy. Developing new technology stimulates economic growth -- far more than tax cuts for people with more money than they can spend!

redsock said...

the Naderites ... threw the 2000 election for G.W. Bush. ... it was the environmentalists that gave the U.S. and the world George W. Bush...

Wow. Who knew the US Supreme Court was packed with Nader-led environmentalists?

I clearly missed that story.

Anybody got a link?

...

Sounds like lexia has some issues she needs to work out with her sister. Good luck with that.

L-girl said...

What people seem to miss when they tag environmentalists as only concerned about "mute trees and animals" is that humans and human economy are completely dependent on the environment.

Just little things like drinkable water, breathable air, uncontaminated food, and ways to keep from freezing or burning up. All necessary for survival, all ultimately dependent on the environment.

Sounds like lexia has some issues she needs to work out with her sister.

Yeah, really. Even anonymously, it's too much information.

Nader follwers on the Supreme Court, what a vision... :)

M@ said...

Just little things like drinkable water, breathable air, uncontaminated food, and ways to keep from freezing or burning up. All necessary for survival, all ultimately dependent on the environment.

Commie.

Anyhow, I was trying to comment before that although I had not achieved even the moderate understanding of US politics I have now, and although I was as distressed as were most Canadians about Bush winning in 2000, I found it difficult to blame Nader. Those weren't Gore's votes; they were votes that he had failed to earn.

This besides the always-necessary caveat that Gore couldn't win anyhow in a state that was being rigged to go to Bush.

L-girl said...

Commie.

Flatterer.

Anyhow, I was trying to comment before that although I had not achieved even the moderate understanding of US politics I have now, and although I was as distressed as were most Canadians about Bush winning in 2000, I found it difficult to blame Nader.

Smart person.

Those weren't Gore's votes; they were votes that he had failed to earn.

There it is. Supreme Court, voter intimidation and all else aside, it should never have been that close - and that is not Nader's fault - it's Gore's. He ran a miserable campaign (but of course! he's a Democrat!). Some of "his" votes went to Nader, sure - but many of them must have gone to Bush!

This besides the always-necessary caveat that Gore couldn't win anyhow in a state that was being rigged to go to Bush.

"Jeb said he'd deliver Florida, folks, and boy did he ever..."

Ani DiFranco. A song that makes me cry. Perhaps I'll post the lyrics here.

L-girl said...

Here are the lyrics.

M@ said...

Flatterer.

The smiley was implied, of course. Or did a troll commenter slip through while the security was down!?!

The most amazing thing, in my mind, was not that Florida was delivered as promised -- the Democrats could be that stupid (any big, rich organization could). It's that the GOP pointed their bat at the Ohio bleachers, and then hit it out of the park. And not only that, anyone (self included) who says "Ohio was stolen" is called a conspiracy theorist.

What the hell do you do then? What possible rationalization could remain?

Well, I guess you can move to Canada....

L-girl said...

The smiley was implied, of course.

Oh yes, I heard it. :)

It's that the GOP pointed their bat at the Ohio bleachers, and then hit it out of the park.

A baseball metaphor - whoo! And a Babe Ruth reference at that. (Coincidence or on purpose? 'Fess up.)

And not only that, anyone (self included) who says "Ohio was stolen" is called a conspiracy theorist.

You are sounding more like Allan every day. It's uncanny.

What the hell do you do then? What possible rationalization could remain?

Well, I guess you can move to Canada....


First you start a blog. Then you move to Canada.

But yes, us wacky conspiracy theorists, with all this stuff call evidence and facts. Better just to believe what you're told. It's so much simpler that way.

M@ said...

(Coincidence or on purpose? 'Fess up.)

All right... I knew what I was saying. But the point stands, I'm sure we agree.

You are sounding more like Allan every day. It's uncanny.

It's not like we were so far apart to begin with. But the Ohio facts so far contravene the popular reality that there's no other way to read them. It doesn't matter what you look at. It just doesn't matter. That state was stolen.

Again, I wasn't really that engaged in 2000. (I assumed Gore would win.) But in '04... it's worth looking closer, and upon looking closer, there's no other explanation. Hell, the returning officer from Ohio guaranteed the state for Bush in 03. What more do you need, honestly?

First you start a blog. Then you move to Canada.

I'm okay with getting the order wrong as long as people like you and Allan and Nick and Mason and WEB etc etc are going to come on over... who can argue with success!?

michael said...

Whoa, sounds like this string got way off track.

I saw the DVD a few weeks ago. I was moved.

There are, perhaps, disagreements about what Al has to say. Let's discuss them. I'm open to that.

Two points I'd like to make/observe.

First - I agree with L Girl's comment about Al Gore truly being in the public service with doing all this. What does he have to gain? No. I am not that naive to think he is thinking of a higher purpose. But looking at him in the DVD, the road he has travelled, I cannot help but to think that he is realy sincere about this.

And, if he were conscripted to join in the 2008 campaign because of this, then I would like to think that he would keep this as his platform. Perhaps a U.S. Green Party of sorts.

Second point - the Canadian angle. It seems to me that that within weeks of seeing this DVD the Stephen Harper government has jumped on the evironment band wagon. It disgusts me so. Am I the only one to feel this way?

Thirdly - sorry, said I was only going to say two points - and this is a real tangent - but talking about documentaries, has anyone seen "Why We Fight"?

Al Gore is good. Dwight Eisenhouwer (sorry, I spelt that wrong for sure)is better.

L-girl said...

Whoa, sounds like this string got way off track.

That's OK. Conversations drift.

There are, perhaps, disagreements about what Al has to say. Let's discuss them. I'm open to that.

I don't think you'll find much disagreements with global warming around here.

Harper's sudden green turn is disgusting, I agree. I would think it's more to compete with Dion than with Al Gore, but it's disgusting all the same.

Why We Fight was discussed at length. I flipped over the movie and went on and on recommending it. Check the "What I'm Watching" posts, it will show up under that.

L-girl said...

You are sounding more like Allan every day. It's uncanny.

It's not like we were so far apart to begin with. But the Ohio facts so far contravene the popular reality that there's no other way to read them. It doesn't matter what you look at. It just doesn't matter. That state was stolen.


M@, I just saw this (again) and realized I had meant to respond. Basically just to say

THANK YOU

in very large letters.

L-girl said...

Why We Fight: here and here.

michael said...

thanks for the references to "Why We Fight". Appears like I am the one who arrives late at the party ... never mind .. I will be the nice guest and leave, quietly

But a question .. and perhaps better for another string ... you obviously put hours and hours into this ... and for good reasons ... but a lot appears of the posts, to me, to go off into obscure tangents. Does that frustrate you so? It would me.

L-girl said...

I will be the nice guest and leave, quietly

Not at all! You are very welcome here, no matter what time you arrive. Others probably are not reading this thread any more, but you can still comment! Why not.

you obviously put hours and hours into this

Well, some time every day. It adds up to hours and hours, but not all at once. :)

but a lot appears of the posts, to me, to go off into obscure tangents. Does that frustrate you so?

Not at all. Just the opposite, really. I think of these threads as conversations, and they drift just as conversations do IRL. As long as no one purposely hijacks the thread, it's fine.

I guess I encourage the topic drift by responding to it rather than squelching it, although I don't think of it that way. I think I'm just continuing the conversation.

Are you a new reader? Where did you find this blog? Just curious.

michael said...

Actually, I've been reading this blog, with great interest, for over a year now. And no, I cannot remember how I came across it.

I tried in the past to post the occassional comment, however I ran into 'sign up' problems all the time.

This time I was able to, relatively easily, create a google account and post a comment. woo hoo.

I just hope that this new-found ability doesn't hijack my life :)

L-girl said...

Actually, I've been reading this blog, with great interest, for over a year now.

Cool! Then let me welcome you to comments. I'm glad you could finally sign up. Please feel free to chime in any time.