Much has happened between the time Deirdre and I added An Inconvenient Truth to our Netflix queue and the day it bubbled up to the top:
- The President managed to squeak out the words "global climate change" in his State of the Union address. (But the highly-touted energy initiatives were mysteriously absent.)
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that interpreted the data very conservatively but still managed to draw ominous conclusions.
- Christopher C. Horner, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming, showed up on The Daily Show (video here) and came off as a complete loon.
- Michael Crichton appeared on the Charlie Rose Show and said such things as "I absolutely believe that warming is occurring, humans are involved, and it`s going to continue for the next 100 years." (Transcript available here.)
- A well-nourished Al Gore showed up at the Academy Awards, and soon thereafter was the victim of a slick smear campaign that nonetheless managed to make its perpetrators look totally ridiculous. (Surely rifling though someone's electric bills is the very last refuge of a scondrel!)
Global warming is no longer much of a debate issue, but as economist Paul Krugman noted, "climate change skeptics seem to be making a seamless transition from denial to fatalism. In the past, they rejected the science. Now, with the scientific evidence pretty much irrefutable, they insist that it doesn't matter because any serious attempt to curb greenhouse gas emissions is politically and economically impossible." (NY Times, 2/23/07, A21)
Still, an “An Inconvenient Truth” packs a wallop. Anyone who has heard that the movie is basically a PowerPoint presentation has been misinformed. I guess PowerPoint may have been used for some of it, but anyone interested in the visual representation of complex information really owes himself a look.
Mostly, though “An Inconvenient Truth” allows the viewer to indulge in wistful fantasy — wondering how things would have been different in this century had not George Bush's glorious and majestic 50,460,110 votes totally clobbered Al Gore's pathetic and humiliating 51,003,926 votes. Imagine an America that not only ratified the Kyoto Protocol but made a firm political initiative to go far beyond it. Imagine an America that used its scientific and technological wisdom to help China and India achieve their industrialization goals without following the same fateful path as the U.S. How proud we could all feel! Instead, we hang our heads in shame over the moral outrages of the Iraq War and Guantánamo Bay.
What a waste.