Forget for a second the typical worries of life. Forget murder, rape, kidnapping. Forget Cancer. Forget about money. Forget about religion. Forget about car accidents and sudden death. For a second, think only about the ground beneath our feet. What happens when it is no longer there to support us? This is the question that repeated through my mind as I watched An Inconvenient Truth. Even the recent rash of violent crimes seem to pale in comparison to the concept of the Earth one day (soon) not being able to sustain life. It will not matter how rich or poor you are; it will not matter what crimes you have committed or how well you uphold justice; it will not matter how righteous, giving, happy or sad you are. When the Earth can no longer sustain life, humanity will be exterminated.
The American Carbon Footprint
As Americans we are responsible for over 30% of Global Warming. This is more than any other country on Earth contributes to the probem. One would think that the more people a country has, the more that country would contribute to the problem. However, the US has 314 million people to China’s 1.34 billion. Yes, we contribute more to Global Warming than China. We are roughly one quarter of their population, and contribute more to the destruction of our planet. How is this possible? Part is in due to American cars not meeting China's emission standards.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke
One segment of the film discusses how scientists can study snowfall, know when the snow fell, and based on isotopes within each layer of snow determine the exact temperature it was when that specific layer of snow fell. By tracking these data over time, it has been determined that the temperature at the ice caps has been increasing exponentially. I do not understand how this is possible to determine, but I believe the science is accurate. Some Americans do not.
Some Americans are more willing to blindly follow religion as truth than they are to accept scientific research. I am not out to condemn religion (because that’s not the issue) but consider the psychology behind that: people are more willing to accept that a man can walk on water, turn water to wine, heal a blind man through prayer and will, die and rise three days later, than they are to accept scientific evidence. To be clear: we choose what magic to believe in.
Through Our Own Eyes
"He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed." - Albert Einstein
Maybe the numbers are too radical to believe. But, there is also visual evidence. Pictures taken 50 years apart, of the same exact spot, show how much of the world is melting. To draw from the film: the snows of Kilimanjaro are no more. It is not by coincidence. Even in my own lifetime I have noticed an increase in storms; each year brings stranger, more erratic, weather. Even in the last two years I have noticed a change for the worse. This isn’t science or pictures. This is my own observation. I must assume everyone with a set of eyes and ears can take note of it if they simply observe. Yet, many do not see it, or do not want to see it. Or they don’t think it matters.
Rich & Invincible
Since the revolutionary war we have been at the top of the food chain. Every generation since has been born into a mentality of invincibility. Because of this we are lazy. It is much easier to drive the same cars, use the same light bulbs, and buy from the same companies, than it is to make a change. Because why should we if no harm has ever befallen us?
But, it's more than that. Here’s a quote Al Gore used in the film:
“It’s hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding.” – Upton Sinclair
We are so ingrained in using coal and oil that the owners of those resources can call the shots in this world. They have the money, and therefor the power, to dispute scientific evidence. They can buy whatever truth they want. They can call Global Warming a “hoax.” To this concept Al Gore drew comparison to early cigarette ads: “More doctors smoke camels.” That is the hoax: a reversal of authority concerning that which harms us.
The Only Place We Call Home
Maybe the powers that control our resources really don’t believe Global Warming is true; or maybe they don't believe that we, the users of said resources, are causing it. But, we all know that isn’t the case. It comes down to money. It comes down to exactly what Upton Sinclair said. It comes down to laziness. It comes down to not being up to the challenge to change. And it comes down to being irresponsible. As Al Gore says in the film, “This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue – it affects the survival of human civilization.”
Think about that. Human civilization. I challenge anyone to see this film and dispute that claim.
And, just so you have an idea of what we stand to lose:
Here are twelve things we can all do to help.