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Posted from Seattle, Washington (USA) at 3:13 PM local time
An Inconvenient Truth
As has become a pre-departure tradition for me, I saw a film with friends on my last night in Seattle. And regardless of how you voted in the 2000 presidential election, this one is worth seeing. Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" documents the trend of global warming and the crisis we're likely to face if the trend is not reversed. Where a decade ago there was still some debate about the scientific veracity of global warming, that debate is no more. The scientific community is nearly unanimous in its view that global warming is for real. There is also consensus that the warming trend is more extreme than can be explained by cyclical fluctuations in climate and weather patterns; in other words, we humans are at least partially to blame.
For me, among the most striking elements of "An Inconvenient Truth" were the graphs included. If you don't think global warming is a serious problem, you need only see a few of the charts presented in the film and you'll likely rethink your position. Average global temperatures - which consist of empirical, hard-to-argue measurements - are on the rise. The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is sky-rocketing (and ditto on the hard-to-argue numbers). What's more, looking at historical data, rising temperatures linger behind increases in carbon dioxide levels. Given the almost unbelievable rise in carbon dioxide levels within the earth's atmosphere in recent years, it's a bit scary to think about the increase in global temperatures headed our way.
"An Inconvenient Truth" does a nice job presenting the science of the problem to the non-scientists among us. As for potential outcomes resulting from global warming, the film is dramatic but not far-fetched. It's scary - but it's meant to be. The film cites the successful reversal of ozone layer depletion and makes a case that similar effort must be placed on addressing the problem of global warming. (Some of you may have forgotten about the ozone layer issue. In response to widespread concern within the scientific community, governments and industries around the world began eliminating products that released ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere in the 1980s and '90s. Two decades later, ozone layer depletion has been halted and the threat of excess ultraviolet rays bouncing around our atmosphere reduced.) Of course, the two problems are not identical; some experts claim we're late in addressing the issue of global warming. "An Inconvenient Truth" aims to communicate the overwhelming scientific consensus about global warming and jumpstart a serious effort to get it solved.
Reviews of the film often include comments about Gore's wit and comfort level on stage. Whether Al Gore comes off as more engaging here than he did on the campaign trail in 2000 is beside the point, I think. He's given the same presentation hundreds, perhaps thousands of times in cities across the globe. He certainly knows the issue. His message is clear, the supporting data substantial (much of it accessible via the film's official Web site). The severity of the problem is hard to deny. See this film - and then consider how you might contribute to the effort to stop global warming.
While on the topic of films, I might as well mention one from the recently-concluded Seattle International Film Festival: "...More Than 1000 Words." This fascinating documentary explores the life of Israeli photojournalist Ziv Koren. Koren's coverage area includes Israel and the occupied territories. As a result, he documents one of the most volatile situations on the planet: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the film, it becomes clear almost immediately that Koren regularly puts himself in the midst of chaos and violence in order to share the truth of the situation with the world. His thoughts about the violence - and the insanity of it - are intelligent and apt. Ziv Koren's work has been recognized internationally; that he somehow maintains a life with wife and kids is also noteworthy (and says as much about his wife as it does him). The film is relevant here - photography and world issues - and highly recommended. It's not as likely as "An Inconvenient Truth" to show up in the neighborhood video store, but seek this one out if you have a chance. "...More Than 1000 Words"