Coping with 'An Inconvenient Truth:'

Many people I know have yet to see Al Gore's film on global warming, 'An Inconvenient Truth.' Reasons given generally boil down to a deep sense that the information learned will be just too overwhelming to deal with. Many are already doing a great deal to reduce global warming, and struggle to maintain their motivation in the face of what can seem like overwhelming odds. Others are only mildly aware of the problem. Wherever you fit on that continuum, take heart: If you go to see the movie, you'll be glad you did. (It is playing at the Lake Theater through at least next Thursday.)

The information presented in the movie is, indeed, very sobering, even shocking. Yet there is something liberating in knowing that you've faced your fears and found out exactly what the parameters of the problem are, so you can plan an appropriate response. That takes you out of the 'part of the problem' category, and puts you into the 'part of the solution' category. The movie offers many solutions that you can act on right now, and much food for long-term thought. It also breaks up the onslaught of information with moments of quiet reflection by Mr. Gore, allowing you to catch your breath and begin to integrate what your mind is taking in. Quiet reflection is what you will find yourself doing for a long time after you've left the theater, for seeing this film will change you. How best to process and act on that change? Here are some suggestions:

Find support. Talk it over with friends, colleagues, or family members. If you're interested in a deeper understanding of how to go about making changes in your life, the Northwest Earth Institute provides well-thought out curricula for self-led discussion courses that can be offered in business settings, faith communities, or private homes. Their newest course is specifically about global warming. Call Outreach Coordinator Karen Josephson at 503-227-2807 for more information.

Educate yourself. The Web site connected to the film is a good place to start: There you can review the science and find many options for action. Once you're tuned in, you won't have to look far for other sources; you'll start to notice them everywhere.

Support the bills that have been introduced in Congress to address these specific problems, based on the same science. Go to the Union of Concerned Scientists' Web site for further information and to read the bills:

Acknowledge that there are unseen forces of nature and spirit at work here, and cultivate a respect for them. Scientists are making new discoveries about the forces of nature everyday, and humans are motivated by their spiritual beliefs. Don't underestimate the power of either of these forces, and try your best to cooperate with them.

Don't get discouraged; there is still time, though not much of it. A generation ago, our citizens rose to an impossible challenge: The mobilization of our resources to turn the tide of WWII. There was a shared sense of purpose then that brought us together to 'save the world.' Can we do it again? Can we overcome our polarization? Can we honor that generation by saving the world again for our children? Do we have the courage to look ourselves and our fears in the face?

The challenge is not insurmountable. There is tremendous excitement and satisfaction in joining with others in a common cause. You never know the effect your actions will have, when they are combined with those of many others. That's part of the magic of working together. No one person bears the responsibility alone, and no one is exempt from the responsibility. You can only do what you can do. And only you can do what you can do.

I've written this column; it's a pebble in a pond. I've tossed the pebble and I release the outcome to those unseen forces. For the moment, I'm at peace. What will you do?

Jan Castle is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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