Sunday, June 18, 2006

Have you seen An Inconvenient Truth yet?

Imagine you've finally reached the income level you've dreamed of. After working hard and keeping your life goals in sight, you're finally going to build the house of your dreams and drive the car of your dreams and settle into the community of your choice. Life will finally be what you've always wanted: full of choice and luxury.

It's startling to realize that what we thought was our right, what we thought was our private business, what we thought we were entitled to as Americans, actually impacts the personal lives of people as far away as Sudan, Nepal, Australia. I am horrified to learn that my American lifestyle -- renting a one-bedroom apartment with full electricity, gas and water service -- is short-sighted and selfish, considering the conditions of billions of people with no access at all to the basic resources I take for granted. I believe I'm entitled to as many clothes and shoes as my paycheck can cover, why not, it's my money, I earned it and I have a right to spend it however I want, right? Well, sure as long as I don't spend it on anything illegal. And I also wouldn't want to spend it on anything that would be harmful to me, even if it was legal. And I'd prefer not to spend it on anything that would be harmful to anyone else, even if it wasn’t harmful to me and even if it was legal.

And there it is. If I really don't want to use my money in a way that would be harmful to others, I really have to consider the population of the whole planet. My American petroleum-based lifestyle is harming people (and other species) throughout the world. It has been for years now. It’s time to change.

I saw An Inconvenient Truth for a second time this weekend. This time I took a few notes:

begin notes
Planet temperatures have increased as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased.

Warmer oceans=stronger storms. As hurricane gets warmer, winds get stronger and moisture content increases.
2004 - record number of hurricanes, hurricane in the south Atlantic for the first time ever.

Floods and drought: more moisture is sucked out of the soil when temperatures are warmer. With that much extra moisture in the air, any storm that gets triggered is much bigger than it would have been.

In this way, global warming redistributes water throughout the planet. One effect in Africa: Lake Chad provides water for populations in Niger, Chad and Nigeria. It’s almost completely evaporated.

Arctic ice cap - permafrost is thawing. In 50 to 70 years, the Arctic ice cap will be gone.
Temperatures increase faster at the Arctic Circle because the ice acts as a mirror, reflecting almost all of the sun’s heat, but the surrounding water absorbs that heat, causing the ice to melt. As the ice gets smaller, less heat is reflected and more is absorbed and the temperature of the Arctic increases quickly.

Life forms that multiply with warmer temperatures:

diseases such as:
west nile virus
avian flu

Government goal: “to reposition global warming as theory rather than fact.”

How this problem is different from every other problem we’ve faced:
what’s at stake is our ability to live on the earth and our future as a civilization.
end notes

We don’t have the ability to destroy the planet itself. The earth will be here long after we’re gone. We can only make it uninhabitable for ourselves and other species.

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