Saturday, January 20, 2007

"An Inconvenient Truth"

Tom and I just watched this movie this evening, literally, we shut the DVD player off about fifteen minutes ago, and I was so moved by that film, I have to write my thoughts down here, on my little soap box, while they are still fresh in my mind.

The first thing that I loved about that movie was that Al Gore hit the nail on the head when he said that we have a moral responsibility to take care of this planet and this issue. You can sit there and wrangle all day over the science behind it, and you could spend the next two hundred years debating the numbers behind it all, but really, we don't have time for that anymore. Whether we like it or not, our world is changing. I can see it here, in the Adirondacks, and we've only lived her for about ten years. This is not the same Adirondacks as it was when I moved here and we had our first snowstorm in October. This year, the temperature did not drop below zero until just this week. Eight years ago, we were sub-zero before Christmas. I found all the ice in and ice out information for Mirror Lake when I was going through some of the Historical Society's archival records the other day - thirty years ago, ice in was as early as the beginning of November. This year, in 2006-07, I don't think there's enough ice on Mirror Lake yet to support even a dog. (Two dogs actually broke through last week, according to the dog catcher.)

So, you can sit back and say, yeah, okay, we're in a warming trend, but so what, it'll just cool off again. Will it? Human beings are so changing the face of this planet to the extent that we just don't know if things will cool off again. How do we compensate for lost ecological niches? All of my reading back in college pointed towards the new ecological niches being filled by bacteria and viruses - small, simple organisms that can easily wipe out millions of us larger, more complex organisms. The ocean currents are changing. The polar bears could be extinct in twenty years. Twenty years. That's well within my lifetime. Imagine a child being born today who will grow up in a world without polar bears. (I think Coca Cola may have to find a new cartoon character for their Christmas advertising. Hope it's not an ebola virus.)

It all comes back to the things that I researched in high school. The rate of consumption in this country is staggering. And every one of us is at fault - my generation are the children of the baby boomers, who grew up with a lack of material goods. They gave us too much, and now, we expect "things". The problem with mindless consumption is just that - it's mindless. If we go out to the store, buy a plastic pre-packaged import from China, throw a card on it and give it to someone, well, what have we given them? What happened to the days when everything was made by hand, and the costs of things reflected that? If you needed something, you either made it yourself, or you paid for it.

The implications are so tangled, so vast, that when I start to trace all the route causes in my mind of the whole problem of mindless consumption, I start to get dizzy. (Or it could just be a cold coming on, I'll let you know in a few days.) But the other thing that Al Gore said that was right on the nose was this: we have the power to change these patterns. We have the power to stop what is happening. We have a CHOICE. It doesn't have to be like this.

I firmly believe that if more people were aware of what was going on and the relative simplicity of the solutions that the issue of global warming would be more of a non-issue. And I'm going to sound like some kind of bougeoius pig here, but I firmly believe that most of the problem rests with the oil and gas industry and the automobile makers. It's corporate America that is making the problem worse, and it is corporate America that has to back down. But how do you get the richest people in the world to give it all up? People are frightened. Fear is powerful. Powerful enough to make these people do everything they can to keep things the same. Change is frightening. But what is more frightening - the change to our global climate and the potential for the ultimate collapse of the world as we know it, or a change of our economy from an energy glutton to a more renewable energy economy?

Tom and I both know that we leave far less of a "footprint" on the world than the majority of people in our state. But that movie left me feeling like that's not enough. It really left me feeling like I have to sit down and think about what else I can do to get somebody else out there to sit down and think about what THEY can do to change the world, too.

There. Now that that's done, I'm going to put on my pajamas, sit in front of the wood fire with my dog, and then go to bed.

1 comment:

The Almanack Editor said...

Interesting post. I haven't seen the film yet, but am looking forward to it. It's unfortunate that it takes "movie star" appeal to get people to take the issue seriously.

I've been writing alot about that myself over at the Adirondack Almanack.

Also, a belated welcome to the Adirondack blog community! I'll add you to our blogroll.