3 Nov, 2006 @ 07:00
5 mins read

An Inconvenient Truth

by Rosina Sinclair 


We sat in stunned
silence as the credits rolled by in the darkened cinema. Nobody seemed to want
to move, to break the bond between us and what we had just seen.

When I did rise to walk
down the aisle, it was to a world that would never look the same again. Eyes
still on the vast screen, I glimpsed the final message, alone in the bottom
right hand corner:

I had just had a larger
than life encounter with what is happening to our planet, and what is going to
happen if we do not rectify the damage within the next ten years.

Even now, three months
later, images flash through my mind – great walls of ice falling into the
ocean, like watching the White Cliffs of Dover collapse into the
English Channel in thick, vertical slices, and polar bears,
dying because they lack solid ice on which to rest and live.

Here, in Spain, we may have to bear the inconvenience of jelly
fish, attracted by the increased warmth of the
Mediterranean Sea. But that’s a minor occurrence compared to the
impact of warm waters for the people of
New Orleans. It was the higher than normal sea temperatures
that caused the increase in hurricane Katrina’s ferocity as she moved across
Gulf of Mexico.

These images, and
countless more, are presented by Al Gore in ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. This is
more a documentary than a typical feature film. It shows the man who was nearly
president of the
United States in 2000 speaking about climate change with a
passion that he has had for the subject since his youth.

Al is the main
character in the film. He is seen giving his global warming presentation to
audiences worldwide, and working with the Chinese. Their current industrial
revolution has led to a phenomenal increase in the use of fossil fuels and the
discharge of industrial waste water directly into rivers.

Satellite pictures
shock and stun cinema audiences.
Lake Chad, once the 6th largest in the world, is now one
tenth of its original size. The precious water is much fought over. And
scientists raise their concern farther afield, as the great ice shelves of the
Arctic and Antarctic form unexpected pools of water on their surfaces.

We get to see the
personal side of Gore too. It was the near death of his young son that led him
to re evaluate what was important in life. And his love of nature comes through
in this crusade to do all he can to influence the saving of the only planet
mankind has at its disposal right now.

He has linked up with
scientists to publicise their findings. They have found a means of boring down
into the ice shelves to extract long cylinders of ice formed over many
centuries. In the same way that a tree expert can read tree rings, the
scientists can measure how much CO2 has been in the earth’s atmosphere year by
year. And they can assess the exact temperature of the atmosphere in each of
those years, going back to the initial ice formation – thus producing the scary
graphs and statistics shown in the film and book.

I left the cinema
feeling humble about our own efforts at eco living in the Alpujarras.
We have spent four and a half years being “green” – producing all our own
electricity, recycling waste water for irrigation, making containers and
funnels out of plastic bottles and giving many items a second life. But,
watching the film with friends in
Hawaii, I realised I am as guilty as the rest of my
fellow passengers when I hop onto transatlantic flights to fulfil my passion
for travel and travel writing.

To add to my dilemma, I
have since learned that the world’s 16,000 commercial jets produce more than
600 million tonnes of CO2 per year, almost as much as the entire African
continent. Ouch!

The least I could do
was to act on what I had just seen, rather than just view the film as good
entertainment and a whole batch of revealing information. I tapped
www.climatcrises.net into my laptop. And unwittingly, but
appropriately, found myself on a new journey of thoughts, conversations and

Since registering with
the website I have had many lively conversations with friends and family who
are clearly as concerned as I am. And I have bought Al Gore’s beautifully
presented book: An Inconvenient Truth. ISBN 1-59486-567-1.


Among other startling
evidence, the pages illustrate, via satellite, the disappearance of glaciers as
far afield as the
USA, the Alps,
Peru and Argentina. I can’t help wondering if Fox Glacier in New Zealand, which dwarfed me five years ago, is also now

But more alarming is
the decline of glaciers on the
Himalayas, because 40% of the world’s population rely on this
mountain range for their water supply. Each time I turn on a tap at home, with
its free supply of
water, I wonder
how long it will continue to trickle its way down to my Cortijo.

It was through the
climate crisis website that I learned about an opportunity to be among 1,000
people whom Al Gore will train in order that we might bring his presentation to
our own communities. I have yet to hear if my motivation for doing the
programme will earn me a place.

I want to work with
local groups and associations to discuss what we can each do to reduce the
emissions that are causing the sun’s heat to remain trapped, thus overheating
our planet. Small, and sometimes insignificant, we may be, but enough pressure
from the public does bring businesses and governments around to introducing new

Whilst I wait to hear
from Al Gore’s team in
Nashville, I am turning my mind to the small things. Like how often
do we jump into our little van for a trip to town? Could we use less
electricity – thus decreasing the number of times we use a generator to
supplement our solar power supply? How soon can we get another solar panel onto
the roof to make use of the free sunshine? Am I doing enough to recycle and
re-use packaging and containers?

I am also curious about
the view that planting a tree cancels out the damage done by taking a flight,
especially at a time when my own flights to
Scotland are about to increase so that we can be with a
parent more often. Do I get some credit points because we have a lot of trees
on our land? It’s a moral dilemma: family commitments in the
UK versus the future of our planet.

There’s clearly no end
to the amount of work to be done in the next few years, both at government and
local levels. If the forecasts are correct, and the melt of the ice on
Greenland or the Western Antarctic Shelf continues, there will be a
very different set of front line homes along the

Based on information
about historic ice melts, our sea levels will rise 6 metres if either of the
melts happens. This will result in millions of refugees from whole countries
and countless coastlines. According to Sir David King, Science Adviser to the
UK government, “The maps of the world will have to
be redrawn.”

Given the slow response
to all the warnings, trends and satellite evidence, I am inclined to agree with
Al Gore. He suggests that, because this has been creeping up on us, rather than
giving us a major jolt, humankind is not responding to what we see as merely an
inconvenience to our lives, hoping that it will go away.


Staff Reporter

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