The Gore Documentary: A Few Words
I don't have time to do it justice, but I just found my notes from "An Inconvenient Truth", scribbled in the darkness of the Grandin matinee on Thursday afternoon. I can read some of it, but not all; if I'd been the compulsive type, I could have held my keychain flashlight in my teeth as I wrote, I guess. So before I toss the page in the trash and move on to other things, let me make some comments about Al Gore's documentary.
There is perhaps too much of the narrator in it for some, but for me, Gore's inclusion of some of the formative events that shaped his life and philosophy helped me understand the source and sustenance of his passion for the planet, which I am convinced is as genuine as my own. Significantly to me, he sat under Charles Keeling (who first saw the pattern of CO2 increase over historical times). Gore had an understanding in the late sixties that "we could lose it all" if we tip the balance of health of the atmosphere--that incredibly thin skin of finely-balanced gases to which our burgeoning population has added so many millions of tons of carbon over and above the norms for the millennia preceding the industrial revolution.
He had that moment of deep comprehension in the mid-sixties that we must put the health of the planet in a higher priority than the health of the consumer economies we fret over with the stock market reports every day at five. Not many people, much less politicians, get it. It is indeed an inconvenient truth that we cannot pursue a future that is like our past. And Gore has followed that conviction for thirty years, in spite of the political points it has lost him. He's been called an owl-loving tree hugging whacko, and so have I. I understand what draws him to care for life beyond man's. We're both southern and the same age, so I suppose there are other affinities that make me appreciate what the man has done with his mind and his voice during my times.
But my conclusions about the issue of climate change and man's role in it were not changed by seeing the movie. Along with Gore, I've been watching this scenario develop since the sixties. I left the movie with a deep sadness in the reality that, while some individuals will see the light, in the end, our political system, and those of China and the developing world will not likely jump from the pot until the water has already boiled. We will continue to treat the earth as if it were nothing more than a passive, lifeless concrete block that we do our living on. We will just keep doing what we've always done, and we'll get what we've always got, deferred til the next administration, diluted in air or water downstream or invisible in the atmosphere or dumped someplace out of sight or in other ways deferring the true costs of the effluents of our affluence. We can only hide, ignore and defer for so long before we have to pay.
I look for ways to reduce my environmental footprint; I want my children to do the same. I'll continue to try to face these hard truths and talk about them with folks who mostly already feel the way I do. Beyond that, until some horrible, sustained and undeniable series of environmental catastrophes happens not to "them" but to us, most who see the movie and even more of those who make a point NOT to see the movie with their minds already made up, will not acknowledge the extreme ill health of the planet's economy. And it will just get sicker.
As a world society in these times, we just don't seem capable of suffering privation, reduced profits or change in the short run to insure sustainability in the long run. However, if the conclusions of very many climate scientists are accurate, even the most skeptical among us may live long enough to be convinced that we have a tough set of global problems. Our children most certainly will inherit the consequences of our indifference and inaction. By then, our window of opportunity will likely have passed.