At the third or fourth chance, the convenience of having this thing screened at BAS in the (extended) lunch break was too much to miss, and I’ve seen it. Its a documentary (I suppose) but a partisan one (maybe they all are…). Nothing really gets any caveats, unlike all my posts (for which see Ms. Rabett’s Nude Scientist Exam). It ends with a fervent exhortation to do Your Bit and visit http://www.climatecrisis.net/ – when I did that, the first thing it offered me was the chance to buy the DVD, so clearly this is Consumption for Climate.
How would we stop global warming? Since Gore fervently believes in it, clearly we should – emulate his lifestyle! Yes thats right, fly around the world and visit all kinds of interesting places. Um. Maybe not so helpful. But I do wonder if amongst all the enthusiastic audiences he speaks to there isn’t an element of this: hey this is good, maybe if I join the GW preaching and get Gores jetset lifestyle? Theres a bit near the end where Gore says “I’ve given this 1000 times; I keep refining it and trying to remove obstacles” (paraphrase). Given that, I wonder that there is no section on “so how do you justify your own carbon footprint”? Perhaps because there is no good answer (unless its supposed to be the bit that follows, which is where he says he needs to convince people one person, one familay at a time).
I’m sorry but I’m going to harp on about this a bit more. There is an earlier section where Gore says something like “after my sons accident I realised how fragile things were… and I dug into GW… I went to the South Pole… to the Amazon… to talk to people who could tell me”. But this is all nonsense. There is no need to travel abroad for any of that, other than to have a fun jolly. You want to talk to people about GW, go to a university.
Anyway, thats the Personal Resonsibility dealt with. What about the science?
Its more or less OK, um, except the bits that aren’t, and except its completely without qualifications, and consistently on the high side. Examples:
Starts with voice-over images of Katrina. Katrina section in the middle. But Katrina was unexciting as a hurricane, except for its unfortunate track (I think thats consistent with the RC party line :-).
There was some spread-of-disease stuff, which appeared to show the West Nile Virus spreading across the whole US. If it did, then its clearly not very climate sensitive. A bit later I’m sure there was a pic of a *dodo* amongst the extinct species. If so, thats a clue that general habitat destruction and general human ravenousness is more of a problem than our CO2.
Closer to home, there is stuff about the Larsen ice shelf breakup. Apparently scientists were astonished by it, because it wasn’t supposed to happen even with 100y of GW. News to me.
There are a number of dubious factoids which I doubt would stand up, e.g. something about island peoples having already relocated to New Zealand. And 30% of CO2 from forest burning sounds wrong.
Pretty animations of 5m sea level rise flooding Manhattan and whatever. No mention of timescale. Its very dubious showing this stuff without saying “and this won’t happen in 100 years”.
The bit I liked best was the boiling frog, and not just because they rescued it. But because its a pretty good image for our society as a whole, and indeed individual people in particular (me). We get stuck in patterns and then its so much effort to re-arrange ourselves. In the film, someone comes in from outside to rescue the frog. Who will come and rescue us? The other “image” is the sister-dies-of-smoking bit. After which his father stopped growing tobacco. But as Gore points out, the surgeon generals report was 1964. So the motto one can draw from that is: people won’t stop the biz-as-usual until their relatives start dying (and/or being seriously affected). Which I fear is likely to be true :-(
[Oops, I forgot: RC reviewed this too. Um. Well I say its *very* partisan, though I don't mean party-partisan, I mean in the sense of strongly pushing one side -W]