Might be Inconvenient, but it's a scary Truth
- Susan Matheny
- Madras Pioneer - News
Maybe we should give the planet a gift this Christmas -- by watching a simple DVD.
Two Madras groups, the Lutheran/Episcopal Church and the Jefferson County Library, have sponsored showings of the new movie "An Inconvenient Truth" based on a book by Al Gore.
When I watched it and saw how the press has contributed to the problem of global warming denial -- it was like a slap in the face and I swore I'd do my part to correct the misinformation.
In an effort to give voice to both sides of a story, newspapers went overboard and created doubt and controversy where there really was none.
The biggest misconception is that the scientific community is in disagreement about whether global warming is real and if it is human caused.
The movie cites a massive study done at the University of California of every peer-reviewed science journal article on global warming for the past 10 years.
Analysis of a random sample of 928 articles (10 percent of the total) found 0 percent of the scientist authors in doubt of the cause of global warming.
In contrast, an analysis of a random sample of 636 (18 percent of the total) of all global warming articles in the popular press over 14 years (New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times and Wall Street Journal) found 53 percent doubted the cause of global warming. No wonder people are confused.
To pique your interest in the movie, consider these jolting excerpts (all backed up with data and photos):
. Glaciers all over the world are dramatically receding, including in Glacier National Park, Patagonia, Argentina, Peru, Switzerland, Italy and the Himalayas. It's predicted there will be no snow on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, in 10 years.
. Runoff from Himalayan glaciers provides half the drinking water for 40 percent of the world's population. At present rates, those glaciers could melt away in 50 years, causing a drinking water crisis.
Skeptics say the warming trend is just a cycle of nature, citing a warming period that occurred in Medieval times. But ice core samples taken in Antarctica that go back 650,000 years, show today's carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are around 360 parts per million -- way above anything ever recorded. If we don't make dramatic changes quickly, within 45 years CO2 is predicted to reach over 600 parts per million.
. Since CO2 (greenhouse gas) thickens the earth's atmosphere and traps energy from the sun's rays, global temperatures are rising with the CO2 levels.
Europe was hit by a massive heat wave in 2003 that killed 35,000 people. In 2004, a hurricane hit Brazil for the first time ever, and a record number of tornadoes struck the United States. In 2005, 200 U.S. cities broke all-time high temperature records, including New Orleans. Record flooding also occurred in China, India and Europe.
. The arctic ice shelf has cracked in half and sea ice is melting. Significant numbers of polar bears have actually been drowning because they can't swim the longer distances between ice floes.
. Antarctica contains the largest ice mass on the planet -- the East Antarctic Ice Shelf. But Antarctica's glaciers are melting and so are Greenland's.
If Greenland's ice melted, it would raise sea levels by 18 to 20 feet worldwide, flooding Beijing, Shanghai, the Netherlands, Florida, Calcutta, Bangladesh and areas of New York and displacing 120 million people. Where would they go?
It's said that humans aren't willing to change until there is a crisis -- and so far, following that pattern, America has just been doing business as usual.
Meanwhile, the government of China, which we are told doesn't care about the environment, has taken a stand, requiring mileage standards of 37 mpg on all its cars. Japan and Europe require 45 mpg, Canada and Australia require 30 mpg, while the U.S. trails behind, only requiring 25 mpg.
A total of 132 countries in the world have ratified the Kyoto Treaty (agreeing to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas they produce). The United States and Australia are the only two advanced nations that have not.
There is a false belief the we have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. But with renewable energy we can have both.
Remember the 1986 environmental crises -- a hole in the ozone layer of the atmosphere caused by use of CFC chemicals? Did you know it was solved through a treaty and the cooperation of every nation in the world?
"An Inconvenient Truth" ends on a positive note. If Americans stop procrastinating and act now, there are actions to take to curb global warming and turn things around.
Six major steps are listed, along with a Web site, www.climatecrisis.net, which lists things individuals can do at home to reduce their "carbon footprint."
The first step is to get this information out to as many people as possible. So, I'm suggesting you purchase "An Inconvenient Truth" DVDs or books and give them as Christmas gifts.
You may have to inconvenience yourself to locate copies and talk people into reading or watching them -- but Mother Earth is worth it.