Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Case Closed

Today might well be remembered as the "day before tomorrow". Climate Change is finally making its debut into the consciousness of Americans (watch this) and the world. And it's not a minute too late. (it might be a decade late though). You can do something about it here.

An Inconvenient Truth is receiving rave reviews while setting off a torrent of carbon industry response. Carbon flacks (watch this) are falling on their swords in droves.

Here is one of many positive reviews:

Warning of Calamities and Hoping for a Change
in 'An Inconvenient Truth'

NY Times
Published: May 24, 2006

CANNES, France, May 23 — "An Inconvenient Truth," Davis Guggenheim's new documentary about the dangers of climate change, is a film that should never have been made. It is, after all, the job of political leaders and policymakers to protect against possible future calamities, to respond to the findings of science and to persuade the public that action must be taken to protect the common interest.

But when this does not happen — and it is hardly a partisan statement to observe that, in the case of global warming, it hasn't — others must take up the responsibility: filmmakers, activists, scientists, even retired politicians. That "An Inconvenient Truth" should not have to exist is a reason to be grateful that it does.

Appearances to the contrary, Mr. Guggenheim's movie is not really about Al Gore. It consists mainly of a multimedia presentation on climate change that Mr. Gore has given many times over the last few years, interspersed with interviews and Mr. Gore's voice-over reflections on his life in and out of politics.

His presence is, in some ways, a distraction, since it guarantees that "An Inconvenient Truth" will become fodder for the cynical, ideologically facile sniping that often passes for political discourse these days.

But really, the idea that worrying about the effect of carbon-dioxide emissions on the world's climate makes you some kind of liberal kook is as tired as the image of Mr. Gore as a stiff, humorless speaker, someone to make fun of rather than take seriously.


I can't think of another movie in which the display of a graph elicited gasps of horror, but when the red lines showing the increasing rates of carbon-dioxide emissions and the corresponding rise in temperatures come on screen, the effect is jolting and chilling.

Photographs of receding ice fields and glaciers — consequences of climate change that have already taken place — are as disturbing as speculative maps of submerged coastlines. The news of increased hurricane activity and warming oceans is all the more alarming for being delivered in Mr. Gore's matter-of-fact, scholarly tone.

He speaks of the need to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions as a "moral imperative," and most people who see this movie will do so out of a sense of duty, which seems to me entirely appropriate.


This is not everything you need to know about global warming: that's the point. But it is a good place to start, and to continue, a process of education that could hardly be more urgent. "An Inconvenient Truth" is a necessary film. "

And here is another Mea Culpa in the NYT

Finally Feeling the Heat
Published: May 24, 2006

TODAY "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's movie about the greenhouse effect, opens in New York and California. Many who already believe global warming is a menace will flock to the film; many who scoff at the notion will opt for Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks.

But has anything happened in recent years that should cause a reasonable person to switch sides in the global-warming debate?

Yes: the science has changed from ambiguous to near-unanimous. As an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism. But based on the data I'm now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert.

Once global-warming science was too uncertain to form the basis of policy decisions — and this was hardly just the contention of oil executives. "There is no evidence yet" of dangerous climate change, a National Academy of Sciences report said in 1991.

A 1992 survey of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society found that only 17 percent of members believed there was sufficient grounds to declare an artificial greenhouse effect in progress.

In 1993 Thomas Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center, said there existed "a great range of uncertainty" regarding whether the world is warming. Clearly, the question called for more research.

That research is now in, and it shows a strong scientific consensus that an artificially warming world is a real phenomenon posing real danger:

The American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society in 2003 both declared that signs of global warming had become compelling.

In 2004 the American Association for the Advancement of Science said that there was no longer any "substantive disagreement in the scientific community" that artificial global warming is happening.

In 2005, the National Academy of Sciences joined the science academies of Britain, China, Germany, Japan and other nations in a joint statement saying, "There is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring."

This year Mr. Karl of the climatic data center said research now supports "a substantial human impact on global temperature increases."

And this month the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush administration's coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared it had found "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system."

Case closed.

Earth's surface, atmosphere and seas are warming; ocean currents are slowing; ice shelves are melting faster than projected; spring is coming ever sooner; rainfall patterns are changing; North American migratory birds are ranging father north; the ability of the earth to self-regulate to resist warming appears to be waning.

While natural variation may play roles in climatic trends, overwhelming evidence points to the accumulation of greenhouse gases, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, as the key.


The greatest worry is that climate change will harm the agricultural system on which civilization is based. Suppose climate change shifted precipitation away from breadbasket regions, sending rain clouds instead to the world's deserts.

Over generations, society would adjust — but years of global food shortages might occur during the adjustment, likely causing chaos in poor countries and armies of desperate refugees at the borders of wealthy nations. "


At lunch just a while ago, I mentioned to my environmental activist friend that one of the biggest problems we have had over the years in communicating the seriousnous of this issue is US.

How can we expect those who think that this Inconvenient Truth is a liberal hoax to believe our climate change tale when we all go about our days as if this is just some other issue that we are right on.

When we start acting like our lives are at stake.

They will too.

Case Closed


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

the case closed story is one of the best for those who are on the line on this issue.

thanks MS

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On October 28,1746, the citizens of Lima, Peru had just celebrated the feast of St. simon and St. jude. It was a beautiful night of the full moon, and the earthquake totally destroyed the city in three minutes, killing 6,000. The ocean retreated for two miles, and the ensuing tidal wave rushed in and destroyed the port of Callao. Another 3,000 people perished.

In 1647 Santiago was destroyed in an earthquake that lasted two minutes. In 1650 Cuzco vanished after a tembler that lasted a half hour.

These are the normal destructive forces of nature. Now we have added our own potion to the natural mix of things. How much time do we have? It all depends on which of the fuses we have lit gets to the bomb first.

5:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad to see that the Muckity Mucks and the N.Y.T. have finally definitively come out on the side of the science .

My hope is that with the release of the Inconvenient Truth, all those fence sitters and reasonable people that have been duped by the administration will recognize the rhetoric and act appropriately.

And is it too late?? Well, just as the body has the infinite wisdom to heal itself, the earth will do the same if we react quickly enough.

Is this too Pollyanna. Yes probably and then again, the earth will heal itself - with or without us.

1:57 PM  

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