Our climate crisis may at times appear to be happening slowly, but in fact it is happening very quickly - and has become a true planetary emergency.Read more...
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Our climate crisis may at times appear to be happening slowly, but in fact it is happening very quickly - and has become a true planetary emergency. The Chinese expression for crisis consists of two characters. The first is a symbol for danger; the second is a symbol for opportunity. In order to face down the danger that is stalking us and move through it, we first have to recognize that we are facing a crisis. So why is it that our leaders seem not to hear such clarion warnings? Are they resisting the truth because they know that the moment they acknowledge it, they will face a moral imperative to act? Is it simply more convenient to ignore the warnings?
Perhaps, but inconvenient truths do not go away just because they are not seen. Indeed, when they are not responded to, their significance doesn't diminish; it grows.
Gore's sobering view of global warming
Former Vice President Al Gore's latest treatise on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, is a companion volume to the well-received documentary. As such, it is basically a picture book: On page 42, for example, you see a snow-covered Mount Kilimanjaro in 1970 next to a 2000 photo in which the mountain has roughly half as much snow. Turn the page and you see a mostly-naked Kilimanjaro with a few dwindling snow patches, snapped this year.
Folks who don't have the know-how or patience to follow the chain of events that links carbon dioxide emissions to the preternatural strength of Hurricane Katrina may have an easier time absorbing the problem through Gore's pictorial presentation of melting mountain glaciers and fragmenting ice shelves. BIG print and lots of smart graphics help too. Gore devotes two pages to the 48 Nobel Prize winners (scientists all) who signed a strongly worded petition accusing President George W. Bush of ignoring good science and "threatening the earth's future."
An Inconvenient Truth raises the obvious question: Is this just Gore gearing up for another crack at the presidency? He says not: "At first, I thought I might run for president again," he writes, "but over the last several years I have discovered that there are other ways to serve, and that I am really enjoying them."
And yet, An Inconvenient Truth may renew the sense of loss that Gore's supporters felt six years ago. His book has all the personal warmth that his campaign supposedly lacked. He talks openly about the tragedies and close calls that shaped his emotional lifethe near death of his son and the early death of a beloved sister, whose cigarette habit and consequent lung cancer influenced the Gore family to get out of the tobacco business. And the many photos of himself as a young husband and father, kayaking and camping with his family in the wilderness, convey a portraitone that is hard to fakeof someone who genuinely values the natural world.