…to see An Inconvenient Truth.
Everyone has been oo-ing and ah-ing about it, and I finally picked it up yesterday in anticipation of my last night alone before DH returned from his business trip.
I watched with a somewhat skeptical eye. DH can’t stand Gore and showed little enthusiasm for the film. I heard that Gore might be running in ’08 and cynically wondered if this movie was just a sideways attempt at kicking off his campaign.
Yes, it’s true, I don’t trust TV anymore. I don’t believe in “reality TV”, I know everything is heavily edited, and that the guy doing the talking is likely reading a script that was handed to him, rather than speaking from his heart. When Gore got all teary-voiced talking about his son’s accident and how it changed his perspective I couldn’t help but wonder which Hollywood spin artist said “hey, put this in, it’d be great!”. Ditto for the bits about the ‘ol Gore family farm. As much as I like the gist of the message he’s putting out, I confess that I find that, for me, Al Gore just oozes “used car salesman”. Maybe it’s that dorky American accent which, thanks to the current administration, will be forever etched in the minds of The Rest of The World as the voice of Howdy-Doody. I mean Dubbya, as in Bush.
My take on global warming thus far is this: it may be the biggest, fastest warmup the Earth has experienced in the last few hundred thousand years, but the Pale Blue Dot was here before us, and will be here after us. Many species are long gone, and many species are yet to appear. The dominant life form has gone from single-celled organism, to invertebrates, to reptiles, to mammals. I’m not worried for the Earth. And while I find species extinction sad, it’s the same kind of sad I feel when I see a baby water buffalo being brought down by a pack of hyenas on National Geographic. What makes humpback whales any more valuable on a Pan-historical scale than the Trilobyte?* Heck, if it weren’t for mass extinctions, none of us would be here.
In terms of the here and now, and in the “what does this mean for ME” category, I figured that man would adapt to global warming the way man has always adapted. We have technology, after all. Things get hotter, we can cool them. Heck, we’re planning to build habitats on Mars for Pete’s sake. I’m sure we can handle a bit of temperature change, right?
Well, that’s the part of the movie that really hit home to me: the maps showing what familiar places will look like after a 20 ft rise in sea level. Now I assumed these changes would take place on a slow enough scale (like over 50 years or more) that the net result would be a total loss on waterfront real estate investments (goodbye Richmond, BC), while those of us smart enough to buy on higher ground would laugh all the way to the bank.
But the rate at which arctic ice seems to be melting is rather astonishing. It suggests that, in as little as ten years, we could see major elevations in sea level. This puts things in a different perspective. It would have significant effects on the economy for starters, not to mention all the displaced people. Suddenly I found myself having thoughts of the militia-type folks who are prepared to homestead their way through Armeggedon. Yeah, we’re getting ready to buy 5 acres of productive land that is well up from sea level, but it occurred to me that defending that land might require a fast lesson in suburban warefare. After all, nothing gets creatures in a fightin’ mood like a sudden scarcity of resources.
Okay, so maybe it won’t be that bad, but it doesn’t bode too well for our future. I am concerned about economic collapse. Not because all my stocks and bonds will be worthless, but because I associate economic collapse with something approaching anarchy. Without an infrastructure to make the changes required to adapt to our new environment, we could all end up in some unscorched version of those old post-nuclear fallout movies.
Fifty years is not much. I may be around in 50 years – my children will be and will have children of their own, possibly grandchildren. Like any mother, all I want for my children is to live in peace. For me, the biggest concern about global warming is that it will bring conflict, violence, and war into our lives. Not that I wasn’t trying to do my bit before, but count me in as yet another individual who is concerned about global warming.
*just for the record, I tear up watching whales on our Blue Planet movies almost every time; I think they are spectacular, wondrous, and awe-inspiring. But perhaps that’s just my anthropocentric perspective.