Sunday, June 04, 2006

Movie / An Inconvenient Truth

Documentary. Highly recommended (5 stars). Somewhat of an intellectual horror movie. Rated PG for mild thematic elements.

Someone spent several million dollars to produce a film version of Al Gore's global warming powerpoint talk, with him giving it in front of a variety of audiences, with high-tech large-screen animated graphics. "Hi, my name is Al Gore, and I used to be the next President of the United States."

If you have been reading consistently about global warming, there will be little new information, but it is nicely formatted, and presents a good portrait of the new Al Gore, more mature now after the hard knocks, touching briefly on various points in his autobiography. Could be positioned as a campaign video, if he decided to run again.

If sea level rises 20 feet, an optimistic estimate, it will inundate land that is currently home to 100 million people, creating a huge refugee crisis. Also perhaps 1/4 of the world's people depend on melt-water from Himalayan glaciers for their drinking water, and when that source goes away will face an acute water crisis.

The Earth's atmosphere is thin and light, like a coat of paint on a basketball, so it is possible for us to influence it. The data show a steady upward march of CO2 levels since the Industrial Revolution, with detailed records since 1957. CO2 exceeds the 360,000 year high recorded in the Antarctic ice, and is poised to zoom off the scale.

Polar ice reflects ~90% of the light that strikes it, whereas open sea water absorbs ~90% of the light's energy, so once the big ice caps melt they are not going to re-freeze anytime soon. There have been reports of polar bears drowning, because they cannot find any ice after swimming 60 miles.

The US is by far the worst offender, producing ~33% of the world's total greenhouse gas, more than Latin America, Africa, and Asia combined. Our average fuel economy remains stuck at ~20 mpg, whereas in China they are shooting for 50.

Not one peer-reviewed study has quesitoned the premise that global warming is happening, whereas 53% of articles in the general media express doubt, thus leading to confusion among the public.

Climate change will make the world a less liveable place, with more droughts, more big storms, more mosquitos bearing diseases, and a major loss of inhabited land along the coasts, 1/4 of Florida, and food-producing land in the delta regions and Holland -- BUT -- the worst of it still decades away, so who cares? It might still be possible to turn the tide, by adopting practices to curtail CO2 production, however it needs to be done immediately, and foremost in the US.

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