Inconvient truth

Go see this movie NOW and then get other people go see it!

In the film Inconvenient Truth former Vice-President and popularly elected candidate for President of the United States Al Gore makes the case for why global warming is something we should all pay attention to. Gore lays out the issues and facts in a way that might even sway skeptics – if the skeptics can be convinced to go see the movie. Gore takes the evidence that has been produced by science and puts it into a format that almost anybody can understand. He addresses, head on, the issues raised by skeptics, debunking the myths put forward by the oil companies and their paid cadre [my words, not his]. FWIW Gore points out that there are, for all practical purposes, no skeptics in the scientific community, only in the popular press.

Second only to a nuclear conflagration, I think the causes of global warming and the changes that global warming will force us to face is the greatest challenge facing all of us and our continued existence on this planet. For me, all doubt ceased when the Larsen-B ice sheet (1250 sq. miles of 650 foot thick ice) slid into the ocean in 2003. Gore argues that the same processes that caused Larsen-B’s surprising demise are “at work” on much larger ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica; sheets of ice large enough to raise ocean levels around the world by 20 feet (that’s not a typo) should either of them melt.

Here in Alaska folks who are skeptical that global warming is man-made abound and come from all corners of the political spectrum. I suppose that’s not surprising given the influence that “big oil” has in my state. The most often cited reason I’ve heard here for why global warming is not the result of our use of fossil fuels and other damaging technologies is that the warming is simply a a cyclical trend. Gore makes mince-meat out of this argument pointing out that data shows that the CO2 levels are higher now than they ever have been in the past 600,000 years (as far back as scientists can measure) and correlating that data with a sustained temperature rise that exceeds that of any period for which we have knowledge.

When challenged by “global warming” skeptics the first thing I point out is that 10 years ago they would have claimed that there was no global warming (the oil company experts were calling it the “myth of global warming” at the time). Hell, the first glacier I ever saw, from the ground, was the Matanuska Glacier, east of Chickaloon off the Glen Hwy. That was in 1997 when we stopped there for a rest. I drove past that same spot 2 weeks ago on the way to Chitina to fish for salmon and there is nothing there but till – gone, zip, nada, nothing, no ice. Same goes for the Portage Glacier off the Seward highway on the way to the Kenai Peninsula. The glacier isn’t all gone yet, it’s just not visible from the million dollar visitors observation center that was built some years back. Anybody living in Alaska that has ventured more than 50 miles from their front door knows that something has changed.

Pragmatists (as in philosophers) argue that the “state of belief” is one in which the believer no longer asks questions or seeks information – the believer opting for the bliss that comes with belief. I can’t help but wonder how many of my fellow Alaskans are in a blissful state believing that global warming is nonsense and how many are just not aware of the consequences we will all face if we do not, or can not mitigate the causes of global warming? Gore points out that while global warming skeptics are virtually non-existent among scientists 56% of the global warming stories in the “popular press” highlight skepticism of the global warming phenomena. How many members of the Anchorage Assembly have studied the issue, how many of Alaska’s Legislators have seen the movie or studied the issue? Do my states’ elected U.S. Congressional Reps: Lisa, Ted, or Don give a shit or are they being careful not to offend corporate donors?

Good luck to us all!