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The inconvenient truth about global warming

We all know that the earth has been getting warmer over the decades. The likely impacts of global warming are spine-chilling. And they’re spelt out in the documentary An Inconvenient Truth that everyone is talking about.

An Inconvenient Truth has not been made by some geeky scientist with thick glasses, rather by the smart, articulate former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, who gave George Bush a run for his money in the race to the Oval Office.

As the name of the documentary suggests, global warming has become an “inconvenient truth” that people in developed countries like the United States are unwilling to accept. Whether for political or for economic reasons, governments are unable to grasp the immediate danger of global warming.

Collapsing ice-shelves, unexpected heatwaves in Europe, torrential rains in Rajasthan, receding glaciers around the world -- all are directly related to increases in global temperature. Global warming is showing its effects faster than was ever expected. As Al Gore graphically puts it, the nervous system of a human being and that of a frog is similar. If a frog is put in boiling water, it instantly jumps out. But if it is put in lukewarm water that is being boiled slowly, it keeps on sitting and sitting and sitting until it meets its fate. Global warming is a slow process whose consequences gain momentum so slowly that by the time we begin to feel it, it is already too late.

An Inconvenient Truth is a documentary consisting of Al Gore’s presentations to an audience, and a few extracts from his career and life. Besides the startling statistics and scary figures, Gore injects humour into the film through animation and cartoons. But, throughout, he never fails to remind us about the seriousness of the problem.

The film explains to us that the population of polar bears is declining because the bears are unable to find enough intact ice-shelves to rest on. Changes in animal behaviour and climate patterns are well depicted. Gore offers us a glimpse of the changing earth through satellite imagery. He has studied the causes and symptoms of the recent breaking off of the Antarctic ice-shelf, and proves, through satellite imagery, that similar symptoms are currently showing up in Greenland and the Arctic ice caps.

There are some unnerving photographs in the documentary of how glaciers have receded over the last 50 years. Gore explains how people living in the Himalayas could suffer acute water shortages in the future if glaciers continue to melt at their current rate.

He ends his presentation on a high note by listing all the countries that have finally taken steps to control global warming. He also describes certain ways by which each of us can contribute to slowing down global warming.

An Inconvenient Truth is the third highest grosser for documentary films till date, with an earning of over $ 42 million worldwide. It is a must-watch movie, not only because it was a 2007 Oscar winner in the best documentary film category but because it inspires the viewer to care for the earth.

The crucial question is: why is there still no major move by governments against this potential destroyer of earth?

The answer lies as much in ignorance as neglect. People don’t seem to realise that their own actions and lifestyle are responsible for global warming. They don’t seem to realise that the exhaust from their cars can actually lead to submergence of their favourite beach resort or that the emissions generated by increasing air travel can generate heat waves that even the biggest AC on earth will fail to cool.

Simply getting more people to watch this film is a good way to start raising awareness about the ways in which we are destroying our planet and the ways in which we can control and delay this destruction.

-- Sushant Sharma

(Sushant Sharma is a Class XI student based in New Delhi)

InfoChange News & Features, April 2007

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