Al Gore's new movie, An Inconvenient Truth, is this generation's Silent Spring – only it seems unlikely that enough governments, and enough people, will respond in time to avert many of the most catastrophic effects of the global climate change that is clearly already upon us.
As Gore amply demonstrates, with the help of compelling graphics and stunning images from around the world, many of the changes predicted by scientists only a decade ago are already visible, measurable, and in some cases devastating. It is evident, for example, that Hurricane Katrina gathered strength by passing over the warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico, waters that were several degrees higher in temperature than they have been for the past ten thousand years.
And contrary to the impression of “controversy,” “uncertainty,” or “hypothesis” perpetrated in the mainstream media, no reputable scientists have even the slightest doubt that global warming is a “real and present danger,” and that human activity is its principal cause.
As the movie's signature web site, www.climatecrisis.net, puts it, “the evidence is overwhelming and undeniable”:
We're already seeing changes.
- Glaciers are melting, plants and animals are being forced from their habitat, and the number of severe storms and droughts is increasing.
- The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years.
- Malaria has spread to higher altitudes in places like the Colombian Andes, 7,000 feet above sea level.
- The flow of ice from glaciers in Greenland has more than doubled over the past decade.
- At least 279 species of plants and animals are already responding to global warming, moving closer to the poles.
If the warming continues, we can expect catastrophic consequences.
- Deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years – to 300,000 people a year.
- Global sea levels could rise by more than 20 feet with the loss of shelf ice in Greenland and Antarctica, devastating coastal areas worldwide.
- Heat waves will be more frequent and more intense.
- Droughts and wildfires will occur more often.
- The Arctic Ocean could be ice free in summer by 2050.
- More than a million species worldwide could be driven to extinction by 2050.
Although Gore is frequently seen lecturing in front of an audience, the movie is also everything that it is cracked up to be – dramatic, terrifying, warm, funny, ironic, informative, and motivating. Gore emerges as a much more passionate, engaging, and human person than he ever allowed himself to be on the campaign trail; and one can now only hope that he will run in 2008 as really “his own man.”
Saturday, June 3, 2006