Monday, August 28, 2006

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

According to Al Gore and a lot of really smart people, we have just ten years to make the changes required for us to turn global warming around. If we don’t, our world is going to change drastically – not within a hundred or thousand years, but within our lifetime.

The Saturday after returning from Alaska, I went to see the movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”, as I had promised Kathie. Essentially, the movie consists of snippets from Al Gore’s lectures about global warming with some scenes from his life and personal anecdotes thrown in here and there. I won’t critique the movie or Gore’s motivation, but I think he presents the information in an understandable format, and it’s downright alarming. The following quotes from the related website provide the gist of it.

The situation: “The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is real, it’s already happening and that it is the result of our activities and not a natural occurrence. The evidence is overwhelming and undeniable. We have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced. ”

The cause: “Carbon dioxide and other gases warm the surface of the planet naturally by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. This is a good thing because it keeps our planet habitable. However, by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearing forests we have dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere and temperatures are rising."

The effects:
“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.

The Arctic Ocean could be ice free in summer by 2050.

More than a million species worldwide could be driven to extinction by 2050.”

The website includes six pages of things that we as individuals can do to lessen our contribution to global warming, and two pages of ways to take action. I’ve started on my list. It’s not going to be easy.


Augustus said...

Hi Pat. You know I don't think it relly matters if we had fifty or one hundred years to get this sorted out. It won't happen. Even if the west is weaned off oil and our other fuels the carbon emissions from India and China will soon fill any gap we can vacate.

I read that scientists think that the arctic conveyor, the warm water flow up from the equator past the UK and Iceland to the arctic is in danger of failing. If it does it will plunge the UK and parts of North West Europe into the deep freeze all the year round. That is what it will take to get us to pressure our politicians. We need a catastrophe.

Katharine said...

Augustus, We can't say it doesn't matter. We have to be like that frog choking the pelican while he's being swallowed. Our Governator in California has supported a bill to decrease greenhouse emissions by 25% from our corporations. He will stand up to Bush and we hope the rest of the states will follow us. A poll shows 50% of Californians are considering a hybrid car for their next car. Every small amount will count. We must not only have hope, but all of us act on it.

Pat said...

Hi Augustus! Good to see you over here.

I think what Augustus is saying, Kath, is that it doesn't matter how much time we have - it won't be enough to turn this around.

To an extent, I agree with you, Augustus. I can't decide if I just want to start hoarding my acorns and look for a new tree in a more northerly forest away from the coast, or go all out and get involved in some grassroots movement whose mission it is to get the attention of everyday people. (Let's face it, most of us can't think past this Friday... or in the case of politicians - the next election, much less ten or twenty years from now.)

We need a Steve Irwin of global warming!

Where's that fight I've seen in your Emma posts? :-) You're going to be around longer than we are - well...longer than I am, that is. (Kathie's going to be climbing Kilimanjaro when she's 95.) And with your gift for writing, just think what you could do!

Sorry, I didn't mean to turn this into a recruitment spiel. Guess I'm just feeling particularly evangelistic this morning.