My wife and I attended an event last night at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, featuring a screening of the new film and an appearance by Al Gore, who gave in an interview and update of what’s been happening since the release of An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. What I describe below are features and conclusions expressed in the film and by Al Gore during his interview.
The essential truth is that climate change and the warming of the Planet Earth is not a political issue. It is not hypothetical. It is not a projection for the future. It is here. It is reality. It has been made a political issue in America by the fossil fuel industry and well-healed and powerful people who are being made richer by denying that reality. It’s that simple.
The political ploys that they have used are nearly identical to those that were employed by the tobacco industry in the suppression and obfuscation of smoking related health data in the 1980’s. The results have also been similar. They have spent over two billion dollars on their campaign to sway public opinion on the issue. Their efforts have have been somewhat successful. A significant segment of the population has been successfully misled, which has produced a widespread apathy to to the urgency of the situation and to the issue itself.
Science is a major proponent of truth in our civilization. It is not inherently wise, but it can tell us when something is broken, and often, how to fix it. Climate science has already shown us how to fix the climate problem physically. It has fallen short of helping enough people in power to develop the will to do something about it.
In order to fix that, it has taken a serious advocate, in the person of Al Gore, to champion the endeavor to educate and otherwise shift the awareness of people toward the truth.
The most prominent example of this is Gore’s negotiations with the Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi during around the time of the global climate conference in 2015. Modi was reluctant to lend his support for a climate accord because he felt that the Indian economy was not strong enough to shift resources toward the development of new alternative energy technologies and industries. The need for the developing nation’s increase in energy production was immediate, with no room for mistakes. Modi and Parliament were on the verge of authorizing the building of 400 new coal based generation plants. Gore realized that that would be a climate catastrophe. He also realized that it was not their fault for their thinking that way. India was in a really tough spot.
So, Gore contacted Solar City’s CEO Lyndon Rive about negotiating an agreement with India for the transfer of solar photovoltaic technology to India that would benefit both India and Solar City. After intense negotiations, the deal was done, and Modi agreed to join the Paris climate accord. Now that’s deal making.
Gore admitted, both to the audience and in the film, that he was often on the verge of despair regarding the trend of American politics on the matter. Still, he persevered. The history of setbacks is long.
One of the first was the cancellation of the NASA DSCOVR project. It was one of the first casualties of George W Bush’s new administration. The project was intended to launch a satellite into a solar orbit that is synchronized with the orbit of the earth in order to observe the earth from a constant “full earth” perspective. It could make make measurements of the earth 24/7 which could then be analyzed to yield useful climate data. For example, it would be a constant monitor over time of the ratio of incident and reflected energy on the earth. That would yield an accurate measurement of how much energy is being absorbed by greenhouse gasses and the rise of global temperatures.
Many setbacks have occurred in America with the election of climate denying politicians to government office, and most recently, the appointment of many of them to federal executive cabinet and other high ranking positions.
On the other hand, there seems to be a global trend for the adoption of renewable energy sources. Even in the US, in Texas, no less, one town proudly touts its 100% reliance on these resources. Some states have nearly reached 100% fossil fuel independence. Across the world, the adoption and use of renewable energy is accelerating dramatically. In Chile, in the last year or so, the production of renewable energy has grown by several thousand percent. China has committed to the movement.
When asked whether a tipping point has been reached in the industrial and political adoption of renewable energy, Gore did not state unequivocally that it has, but he indicated that he thinks it’s inevitable. He remains hopeful.
There were many examples shown in the movie of devastating events that have occurred worldwide since the last movie that are directly and unequivocally attributable to temperature and climate. Amid all the massive devastation, one event really stood out as a surprising and disturbing data point.
In 2015 a massive deluge was recorded in Tucson. It seemed to be an aerial view of clouds dumping water (billions of gallons?) on Tucson as if a giant barrel in the sky tipped over. You could actually make out the splash of the water on the ground. Not drops. Barrels.
I don’t recall any mention of tipping points with regard to climate change itself. That is, the point at which the planet will not recover sufficiently to stop the warming progression. This was a prominent topic earlier on in the discussion.
See movie trailer
See interview at Greek Theater (video shaky, audio good)