Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Al Gore Review

It seems like everyone has an opinion on global warming these days. Of course, we have An Inconvenient Truth to thank for that. I think Al Gore did a commendable job publicizing global warming. However, I feel that the documentary raises more serious and complex questions than the simple ones it answered, and I believe this is ultimately lost on the general public.

Gore is right about one important thing. Unchecked global warming will have unforeseen consequences, though we are slowly discovering some of them.

I also believe Gore is right about the lack of political will in the United States to be more actively conscious of the environment. After all, market potential dictates any business decision, and it's up to the government to add additional penalties or rewards to prevent against unchecked exploitation. In some cases (such as this one), when public interest is lacking, politicians also have little motivation to care.

But it seems to me that more questions are opened up by Gore's documentary than answered. After all, while it's great for the public to be more aware of the problem, are we sure they understand what the problems are? I'm certainly not sure where I stand on the issue, and I've spent quite a while reading up on the topic from a number of sources.

Gore's primary goal was to convince the general public to be more concerned with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. I still don't buy the evidence he presented. But even if I did, there's no reason to assume that global warming would stop once we cut down our own greenhouse gas emissions. And thus, the consequences we risk facing might still come to pass. For example, Gore states that the melting icebergs will cause sea levels to rise dramatically, thus destroying many populated coastal regions. But we know that sea levels have, in the past, been at levels even higher than it is now.

So this begs the question of whether or not Gore missed the main points of this issue completely. The answer to that question will probably not be known without further work by scientists. Maybe five years down the road, Gore will make another movie themed, "The world is warming up whether we like or not. Let's find efficient means to deal with it."

My last criticism deals with the mini-biography spliced into the documentary. It's possible that a straight-up documentary would be too boring for the general public, but I feel that it disrupts the purity of his work. And if he does end up going down in history as a pivotal figure, it would be a shame that his work was scarred by such petty trivialities. But such is the price for progress.

Who knows, maybe Bill Gates is the answer.

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