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Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

7 things I did to help slow global warming

I saw the global warming movie, An Inconvenient Truth, on opening weekend, eager to contribute in some small way to a box-office success story.

I left the theater with mixed feelings, simultaneously elated that, finally, someone had made a vehicle that could carry an overdue pro-environment message to a mainstream audience, and thoroughly depressed that we appear to be well and truly f*cked. (For example, if those carbon dioxide numbers are correct, will the atmosphere recover before we’re all crowded inland battling neighbors for fresh water?)

The other depressing thought I had was that this movie could have a further polarizing effect on Americans, when clearly the only possible solution is for everyone to pull together to solve the problem — much as we apparently did in the 1980s to phase out CFCs to prevent further damage to the ozone layer of the atmosphere.

For example, as the Chronicle reports in Gore movie reaching the red states, too:

Since the Al Gore global warming film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” opened in the Bay Area five weeks ago, approving audiences have left the theater murmuring a similar refrain: “I hope the people who need to see it, see it.”

I realize that’s maybe just the author’s hook, but if it’s true, then the movie is failing. Global warming is not a “them” issue. If you drive your Prius to Whole Foods to buy organic bell peppers from Israel and store them in your EnergyStar refrigerator, you’ve produced 100x as much global-warming gas as the average resident of any nonindustrialized country in the world did today.

Really 100x? No, it’s a guess. But you get the idea: Americans consume 26 percent of the world’s energy. The statistic isn’t about “Red state Americans” or “SUV driving Americans.” It’s about multiple TV and refrigerator and washer-dryer and car-owning Americans. You and me and even the guys who work at the Zen Center.

In fact, the illogic of that sentiment — “I hope the people who need to see it, see it.” — is astounding. It means, essentially, “I think the world is facing an unprecented environmental disaster, which I’ll very likely live to see and suffer from… but I’m going to wait for those jerks in the Red states to fix it for me.”

So, the movie needs to pull people together. And I think it tries to, as when Gore talks about a “moral obligation” to solve this problem. I think progressives are so used to thinking about the Republicans or neocons or the remaining third of citizens who think Bush is doing a really knock-out job, etc., as the enemy, that it’s a native reaction to do the same here. But it won’t fly. We can lead, but we have to make sure they follow. For anyone still waiting for “them” to get it, please wait somewhere in southern Florida. Bring your hip-waders.

The challenge for me was to channel the movie’s message into action. I feel like I’m pretty energy conscious and conservative already; e.g.:

But I had to do something; if I couldn’t come up with a constructive reaction to the movie, I’d be just as lame as the people who won’t see it because they dislike Al Gore.

Radiant barrier insulationIn hopes someone finds inspiration here, here’s a list what I’ve done so far:

Still to do: buy carbon offsets [DONE]. Clean the filters in the furnace and the coils under the refrigerator. Bring a PV vendor into the office for a companywide sales pitch. Investigate “green” electricity (PV or not, I’m still on the grid).

What have I missed? Send me your ideas.

Here are 32 ideas from the movie site: Reduce your Global Warming impact at home

Tags: global warming, an inconvenient truth
posted to channel: Conservation
updated: 2007-01-23 05:52:20

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