Monday, January 07, 2008

For whom is the truth inconvenient?

The above video mocking Al Gore and his Nobel Prize-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth was found by my son, who is right now interested in videos about penguins. The video lists "Things you can do to stop global warming: Stop exhaling. Become vegetarian. Walk everywhere (no matter the distance). Take cold showers."

My opinion about Gore is not all negative. I liked what I found in Wikipedia about his participation in the Vietnam war: "Gore opposed the Vietnam War and could have avoided serving overseas by accepting a spot in the National Guard that a friend of his family had reserved for him, or by other means of avoiding the draft. Gore has stated that his sense of civic duty compelled him to serve in some capacity... With seven months remaining in his enlistment, Gore was shipped to Vietnam, arriving on January 2, 1971... Gore said in 1988 that his experience in Vietnam: "didn't change my conclusions about the war being a terrible mistake, but it struck me that opponents to the war, including myself, really did not take into account the fact that there were an awful lot of South Vietnamese who desperately wanted to hang on to what they called freedom. Coming face to face with those sentiments expressed by people who did the laundry and ran the restaurants and worked in the fields was something I was naively unprepared for.""

These days, we have real winter. I have difficulties dragging the baby pram through the snow to the nearest shop to buy bread. The vegetables left carelessly at the glazed balcony became as solid as stones because the water inside them turned into ice. The TV broadcasts horror stories about people who froze to death in snow-drifts, about patients who died because of impossibility to reach the hospital in time. The entire continent is held captive in the snow. At the other side of the Atlantic, Winston also writes that it is difficult right now to believe in global warming.

Of course all this doesn't mean that global warming isn't real or isn't due to human activity. However, I dislike the way Gore and his award-givers address the problem . First, they politicize an important problem and utilize it to serve a narrow partisan agenda. Second, they distract the attention from the current conflict threatening our civilization. Third, his message is addressed predominantly to the West. Restrict, restrict, restrict consumption, you bad Westerners. It is true that those who buy and drive pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles without really needing them are guilty toward Mother Nature. However, it is much more important how many of us are there. If there were only a billion of humans, the planet would easily endure even if every single adult had a sport utility vehicle. And here the West has done its part of the job. USA has a replacement birth rate and some population growth due to immigration alone. Other Western nations are imploding. Gore briefly mentioned the population burden but he travels and lectures exclusively in the West. Of course it is much more politically correct to tell Westerners that they should consume less, rather than to turn round and tell non-Westerners that for the sake of our dear poor planet, they shouldn't have so many babies.

Last but not least, the documentary seemed fitted to an audience of 10-year-olds. One of the most serious dangers to a culture is erosion of intellect, and it is only encouraged by catering to people with modest intellectual abilities. Because intelligence, similar to commodities, is produced and supplied when there is demand. Perhaps Gore foresaw that schools would request copies of his film; but what worries me was that I haven't heard any commentator of An Inconvenient Truth, even those highly critical of it, to mention the low level of the message.


Winston said...

I just think we ought not to change our way of lives just because Al-Gore thinks global warming is happening. I do think global warming or cooling is just a natural thing. Thnx for the quote though

Maya M said...

Thanks for the comment! I often read your blog, though usually don't comment there.
I think global warming is happening, but I'm not sure whether it is man-made or natural. Of course there were climate changes long before humans even evolved. I am also not sure, if a natural climate change is believed to be bad for humans, whether we should try to reverse it or not.
I would want us to put the fossil fuel era to an end. Greenhouse effect or not, we introduce to the atmosphere substances that have been buried from before time. Some people say that CO2 reacts with calcium to form CaCO3 and in this form safely falls on the sea bottom. I hope these people are right, because if they aren't, we are in big trouble! And oil makes us dependent on our enemies and subsidizing them.
Anyway, you and I aren't the people to change their lifestyle. I mean, I have no SUV and no private jet and I guess you haven't, either :-). And Al Gore himself - when troting the globe to show his documentary, does he use a bicycle on land and a sailboad in sea? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

I like this. It's cool to see all these different views.
1 thing: Al Gore paid (probably millions) to offset all the CO2 caused by the making of his film. It's carbon neutral.