Friday, June 02, 2006

The Al Gore Movie

We went off to see the Al Gore movie tonight. Here are the words of Roger Ebert on the film's web site:
“The director, Davis Guggenheim, uses words, images and Gore’s concise litany of facts to build a film that is fascinating and relentless. In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.”

If the worst case scenario of global warming unfolds, of course, then all other issues slide into insignificance, so I echo Mr Eberts comments.

With the release of the movie comes word that Gregg Easterbrook who I have always seen as an oddball, but who is nonetheless a widely read American writer, has flipped his position as a longtime skeptic of global warming. He wrote a column about his conversion in the New York Times on May 24 to coincide with the opening of the movie in New York. The column is now behind their subscription wall but here is an excerpt:

Yes: the science has changed from ambiguous to near-unanimous. As an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism. But based on the data I'm now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert.... Once global-warming science was too uncertain to form the basis of policy decisions ...

Clearly, the question called for more research.

That research is now in, and it shows a strong scientific consensus that an artificially warming world is a real phenomenon posing real danger:

The American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society in 2003 both declared that signs of global warming had become compelling.

In 2004 the American Association for the Advancement of Science said that there was no longer any ''substantive disagreement in the scientific community'' that artificial global warming is happening.

In 2005, the National Academy of Sciences joined the science academies of Britain, China, Germany, Japan and other nations in a joint statement saying, ''There is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring.''

This year Mr. Karl of the climatic data center said research now supports ''a substantial human impact on global temperature increases.''

And this month the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush administration's coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared it had found ''clear evidence of human influences on the climate system.''

Case closed. Earth's surface, atmosphere and seas are warming; ocean currents are slowing; ice shelves are melting faster than projected; spring is coming ever sooner; rainfall patterns are changing; North American migratory birds are ranging father north; the ability of the earth to self-regulate to resist warming appears to be waning. While natural variation may play roles in climatic trends, overwhelming evidence points to the accumulation of greenhouse gases, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, as the key.

And those are the words of a person who first heard Gore on the topic 20 years ago and who has resisted reaching this conclusion.

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