Five years on from An Inconvenient Truth and the explosion of environmental concern, Lena Miteyko provides a timely reminder of why we need to return to Al Gore’s message and save our environment from disaster – even if it means deprioritising the economy.
Which side do we take? Do we veer towards maintaining the beauty and well being of the Earth, or do we concede to the attraction of financial growth, that has simply become irresistible to the human race? Either way, we find that favouring one side will in many instances have harsh consequences for the other. This pressing issue was vividly presented in the recent 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Former US Vice President Al Gore was at the heart of the documentary, providing a moving account of just what global warming is, and of course, its growing severity. After his unsuccessful Presidential campaign in 2000, Gore’s motivation only grew, building upon the elements he grasped on global warming during his years at Harvard with Professor Roger Revelle. Among these elements were his growing concerns on the effects of using fossil fuels; introducing carbon tax was already a developing idea at the time.
In An Inconvenient Truth, Gore visits numerous cities in order to relay his message across to various different specialties; scientists and politicians being at the top of his list, as this combination is undoubtedly the most influential to the world community when it comes to alleviating the effects of global warming. The opposition is supposedly industrialists and businessman, who remain obsessed with monetary acquisition, not realising the collateral damage that is passed on to the environment as a result of their actions. The key for Gore was to transform these minds, and he began by stating that the human race is on track to change the composition of the atmosphere with devastating effect, in spite of the Earth’s ‘massive’ size. Accompanying consequences were conveyed with equal threat, such as the possibility of the Netherlands being completely submerged underwater in the near future.
After considering the potential natural destruction that could occur, should society still continue its quest for greater wealth? Looking at it ethically, no, but it is unfortunate that many politicians have been known to convince leading scientists into altering their articles in a manner that makes the issue of global warming appear seemingly minor. Why? It’s simple – to maintain economic focus, of course. Tipping the scales towards environmental action is therefore becoming an increasingly difficult problem, but Gore has faith that it can be overcome. One method he used to convince his viewers was the image of a simple counterbalance. On one side was a stack of gold bars, positioned so temptingly, and opposing that lied the Earth. His argument is perfectly justified: if the Earth is the only entity that can accommodate the gold bars, how can we possibly take sides against it? In other words, if economic prosperity is continually prioritised, and we remain blind to the deteriorating health of the planet, we are bound to eventually find ourselves stuck in a disastrous hole.
According to scientists Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow, humankind already possesses the fundamental scientific, technical and industrial know-how to solve climate change. Efficient use of electricity is what should be targeted they say, as this could drastically decrease the hazardous emissions given off and subsequently improve the environment to a huge extent. They also stress that the ideas are waiting closely in line, but political endorsement just isn’t there, and even thoughAn Inconvenient Truth was a major breakthrough, much more support is still required for these propositions to have an impact on the public.
America has progressed hugely, and it has been a leading power in advancing technology that is utilised across the world today. Let’s not forget that it’s a country that has overcome famine and disease, landed man on the moon and followed through the rights of women, too. Surely such progress highlights the power of democracy, and more specifically the power that politics has to change the perspective of people for the overall betterment of society? Al Gore certainly thinks so, as he states, “it is a moral issue” and “it is our time to rise again to secure our future”. The economy has certainly become too much of a focus in today’s world, overshadowing the degradation of our planet. What we need to realise is that our planet is the shell for our economy, and without it the economy would be nonexistent. Gore’s vision for an improved environment needs to be spread before the challenge to combat global warming becomes impossible to overcome.