An Inconvenient Truth: Too Convenient

I finally got around to seeing An Inconvenient Truth. In terms of its educational value for letting us know exactly where thing are at with Climate Change, this movie is brilliant. Al Gore attacks us with the PowerPoint from hell: charts, graphs and images depicting the sad state that we have gotten our planet into.

Gore spends some time rebutting the claims of those who say that the data is contested or that the scientific community is split. In particular, a survey of thousands of scientific articles in peer reviewed journals was performed, out of which a grand total of zero scientists dissented from assertions of climate change. However, in the popular press, some 53% of articles dealing with climate change presented the supposed dilemma of the split in the scientific community. Lobbying money well spent by Big Oil!

But towards the end, I got annoyed. When the film starts to move into life application, things get wishy-washy. You can see the kind of stuff they advocate at their site to take action, you get an idea of what is (briefly) mentioned in the film. The problem here is that everything that is suggested, from wrapping a blanket around your hot water heater, to taking mass transit where available, to using CFL light bulbs (all good things in and of themselves), are merely band-aid solutions when major surgery is needed. Simply tweaking the current system to be a bit more efficient is going to prove nothing. The serious problem is that we have become completely dependent on oil energy for the fundamental necessities of life. Let’s look at the big three: food, clothing and shelter.

Food

Most of our food comes from anywhere but where we live, moved across vast distances by the power of oil. And produced in mass quantities using oil power. Do we have any plans to change the way we grow and consume our food? If not, then climate change is a-coming.

Clothing

Made in China, sold at Wal-Mart. Brought to you across the sea and down the highway by the power of oil. Does our plan for climate change include a way to provide our clothing locally? Well, I guess if it gets hot enough we can all frolic in the nude…

Shelter
And here’s the big one: we have increasingly tied our way of life to a living arrangement that has no future. What good is it to try to make your home more energy efficient when it’s in the suburbs? The suburban plan mitigates against mass transit, demands its citizens to drive for the most menial of errands, continues to build bigger McMansions that are going to cost a buttload to heat and cool no matter how well you insulate them, and… the list could go on and on. The entire infrastructure of the suburbs is unsustainable and harmful to the environment.

But maybe God has built a release valve into the whole thing. Since we’ve probably moved past the oil peak, we’re simply not going to be capable of polluting like we are now. Although that will bring its own difficulties–how do you rebuild an entire national infrastructure for everyday life?–at least we’ll hopefully be forced onto the right path. Hopefully.

But for those of us who don’t need to be forced, let us pray and work for a different kind of life. The life of God’s kingdom here on earth. Let us live it and bring it. Help us and have mercy on us, oh God.

8 thoughts on “An Inconvenient Truth: Too Convenient

  1. I totally agree.
    The movie is brilliant in its proclamation of the truth, but when it comes to application, the suggestions are laughable.
    After the end of the film, credits roll while text drifts around telling people what they can do to “save the planet”. It’s like, ok, you just witnessed the harsh reality of the utter devastation of our planet, but hey guys, make sure you switch to compact-fluorescent light bulbs!
    Oh yeah, and making sure your tires are properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by up to 3 percent! wowza!

  2. Bullocks

    I remain skeptical (irrespective of its actual truth) of global warming for several reasons.

    Firstly, 500 years ago the Vikings were farming on Greenland. Greenland. If it gets warm enough that we can start farming on Greenland, and continues to get warmer, _then_ we might have a problem.

    Secondly, you may remember that in the late 80s/early 90s these same people were making a different loud noise about climate change, but instead of Global Warming, these same people were preaching about the impending doom of th next Ice Age. So which is it? Are we cooling off or heating up? This flip-flop-ing seriously degrades the credibly of the climate change activists.

    This is not to say that climate change is not ocuring, just that pro-change side is as guilty of skewed numbers and propaganda as the anti-change forces.

    As for this:

    “However, in the popular press, some 53% of articles dealing with climate change presented the supposed dilemma of the split in the scientific community. Lobbying money well spent by Big Oil!”

    Shame on you, Matt. I thought you had more integrity as a blogger than that. I know you are not a fan of large corporations, but to immediately pin an apparent media spin on big oil simply does not follow.

    I would also like to point out that the ‘scientific community’ consists not only climatologists and meteorologists but also of Physicists, Psychologists, Zoologists, etc whose opinion on climate change is no more valid than yours or mine. And despite Mr Gore’s assurances of the solidarity of the scientific experts, (and apparently a folow-up study proved the exact opposite fact), there are at least some climatologists, etc who do dissent about the climate change issue.

    Since you’ve shown your willingness to view Mr Gore’s propaganda, why not see some of the other sides? http://www.friendsofscience.org

  3. Well Trav, I sense that you have more problem with environmentalists here than with the science. Have you seen the movie?

    I do not have access to the data, nor do I have the requisite technical knowledge to assess either the hyperbolic claims of pro or anti climate change activists. What I reported in my article was taken from the movie. I suspect that both sides are more motivated by politics and other a priori commitments than by science.

    As for Big Oil propaganda, I certainly have no proof of that, nor did I claim to. But it would not surprise me, as they have a vested interest in not having the reputation of their product tarnished.

    But, moving beyond all of these points, I would still come to the conclusion that we need to fundamentally change our living arrangements, for reasons of morality and justice. Our part of the world is, by and large, exploiting the rest of the world in order to maintain its opulent standard of living. I believe in a God who in Jesus has called us to lives of radical love for others, which it seems does not include a life marked by conspicuous over-consumption at my neighbor’s expense.

    It just so happens that this is the kind of life-style that will bring about a change in global warming, if it is occurring. I am convinced that it is. But more importantly, I am convinced that, as always, following the way of Jesus is the best way within this world.

  4. Not that anyone is necessarily going to read this, but I thought that this information should be added to the post to demonstrate that Big Oil is definitely lobbying to bring climate change science into disrepute in the popular realm, in the words of a 1998 ExxonMobil memo:

    Victory will be achieved when uncertainties in climate science become part of the conventional wisdom” for “average citizens” and “the media.”

    For the full memo, documentation, and a list of think tanks that ExxonMobil funds, read Global Warming Skeptics: A Primer.

  5. Matt,

    Well said. We need to start making lifestyle changes. It was a similar recognition (before the movie came out) that caused me to change my main mode of transportation to biking and public transit. we still have a car, but I bike to work 90% of the time.

  6. Ariah, cheers for the comment. Good to hear that there are people who are making lifestyle changes out there.

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