Al Gore Walks the Walk
The politics of climate change. A Film REVIEW of: "An Inconvenient Truth"
Al Gore, the man who should have been president in 2000, finally got around to reading his book.
The star of his new film "An Inconvenient Truth" is the former VP himself. I must say I've never seen him look more presidential. The film is based on a slideshow presentation that Gore carries around with him in a laptop computer. (He is a Mac user.) Gore claims he has shown it to more than 1,000 audiences, worldwide.
The movie has a sobering message. It's about climate change. I won't spoil it for you, but here's a tidbit. According to Gore there is evidence that huge ice shelves in Antarctica, as well as the Greenland ice cap, are presently in the early stages of breaking up as a result of global warming. The extent of warming is greater at the poles than at the equator. Thus, the effects can much more dramatic. If the trend continues we could witness the catastrophic disintegration of portions of these vast ice fields. Oceans would rise by 20 feet, flooding cities like New York, Calcutta, and Shanghai, while permanently displacing hundreds of millions of people.
Our current refugee problems in Lebanon and Sudan are puny by comparison.
Gore has obviously done his homework. But did he get it right? While some critics have charged that his science on calving ice fields is dubious, one physicist, Paul LaViolette, proposed similar ideas in a recent book, Earth Under Fire . LaViolette argues that such events were common at the end of the last ice age. He thinks the vast ice field covering north America did not necessarily retreat gradually. As temperatures rose and the ice began to melt, enormous lakes of water developed on its surface. Much of this melt water found its way down inside the ice field through widening fissures, further weakening it, and lubricating it from below, until at a critical point the whole thing gave way.
Today, in places like Alaska and Siberia one can still find "muck beds" that---LaViolette thinks---are the cataclysmic evidence of such events. The beds still include thick veins of buried ice, boulders and all manner of debris, including entire forests that were ripped to shreds, and the bones of many species like the extinct woolly mammoth and sabretooth tiger. Generations of scientists have puzzled over these beds, and have long debated how they were formed. Now, perhaps we know.
In a poll the Associated Press interviewed climate scientists about Gore's film. Those who had seen it gave it high marks. Even if Gore oversimplifies the link between global warming and rising levels of carbon dioxide, as some believe, his film calls for changes that are cost effective and need to happen, anyway. These include energy conservation measures, more stringent fuel efficiency standards, the development of clean alternative fuels, and a host of other strategies to reduce our human footprint.
With hindsight, it's now abundantly clear that Gore's advisers gave him terrible advice during the 2000 campaign when they convinced him to steer away from environmental issues. That was a mistake. Gore is clearly in his element talking about global environmental issues. In the new film his "stiff manner" has morphed into something like gravitas. Golly gee, if candidate Gore had talked this way in 2000 he'd have carried Florida by a decisive margin. Many Naderites would have swung over.
Most importantly, Gore has a vision for America. If the Democrats don't draft him for the 2008 race they are crazy. Gore could win. In fact, he might be our last best chance to weather the perfect storm coming soon to a neighborhood near you, i.e., a convergence of climate change, peak oil, the coming US currency crisis, Mideast strife, etc.
But if the Democrats are to win, they had better keep Gore alive. The neo cons who crossed the Rubicon in their 911 scheming will surely try to snuff him---if not one way, then another.
Gore's film should be required viewing.
Mark H. Gaffney organized the first Earth Day at Colorado State University in 1970. His latest book, Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes, is a radical study of early Christianity. For more information visit his web site <www.gnosticsecrets.com> Mark can be reached for comment at email@example.com
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