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My Review of "An Inconvenient Truth"

Since my friendslist and lurklist both stiffed me about the movie, I'll post my review: We're all doomed.

Holy cow. Are we all doomed.

See, the dashing Mr. Gore doesn't go out and SAY this, because the movie has to have a happy hopeful ending, in which consumers buy better cars and write to Congress and mobilize the political will to make policy changes. But... Antarctica is crumbling, and Greenland is in danger, and our consumption levels are going up and will continue to go up in the forseeable future, and I have no reason to believe that A MOVIE is going to fix this.

The film has problems. Some of the connections are iffy (they should have hired melted_snowball to apply his favourite statistical principle a couple of times), and for some reason the movie felt compelled to drag terrorism into the discussion. But overall the science is pretty well explained. I have a casual interest in this stuff, but I learned several new things.

Gore does a good job of making the "so-called skeptics" (his terms) look silly. Among other things he debunks the myth that our C02 levels are part of a natural cycle, and that the Medieval warming was anything like the one we are in for. I am sure the so-called skeptics will bite back, but the smackdown was entertaining to watch.

It did bug me that many of the non-lecture shots showed Gore globetrotting on planes and cars and such, and all of the talking heads the movie ridiculed happened to be Republicans. I also couldn't help thinking that Gore was vice-president for eight years, and he isn't known for his environmental legacy in office. My guess is that he wouldn't have make global warming a priority as President either -- there is just no political future in it. This is a problem we have been causing for over a century, and any solution will have to be measured in decades. Meanwhile the trends are that we are going to make the problems much worse, not much better, if for no other reason than China and India are getting themselves out of poverty.

I just don't see the incentive system being put into place to solve this problem. Then again, I didn't see the Montreal Protocol coming along either, but energy and carbon dioxide is a much more fundamental issue than CFCs. There is lots of incentive to pump carbon dioxide into the air. There are huge costs, too -- the film makes an analogy between getting cancer from smoking tobacco and huge weather disasters from global warming that I like -- but associating the costs to the benefits is not so easy.

The film goes out of its way to make us believe that we still have a chance to turn global warming around, but I don't buy it. I'm sure life on Earth will continue to survive, and humans will probably survive in some form, but it looks like we are in for an interesting (in the Chinese Proverb sense) few decades. I worry that the wisest strategy might be isolation: purchase some cheap land up North and wait for the deserts to wipe out middle America. Then the value of the land will appreciate. Sell some of the land for profit, and build an isolated gated community on the rest. Learn how to shoot animals and eat meat and grow vegetables. Get lots of books. Then wait things out.

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Mood: doooomed