Friday, 11 February 2011

An Inconvenient Truth

I watched the film version of 'An Inconvenient Truth' whilst studying Geography at GCSE and I was planning on watching it again seeing as it is relevant to what we are studying at present and to compare it to 'The Age of Stupid' which I watched a couple of weeks ago. However I found the book version of 'An Inconvient Truth' and, as I am a bit of a bookworm, I decided I would read the book instead......

I have literally just finished reading it and my head is buzzing with so many questions - most of which revolve around the idea that if we realise that we are harming the environment and that climate change is actually happening why don't we all do something about it? As I am sure you are all aware, the book/film is all about the Former Vice President, Al Gore, sharing his concerns on the pressing issue of climate change in the hope that it will provoke people to alter their lifestyles to reduce the negative impact that they currently have on the environment. The book is very thought provoking and whilst presenting some interesting ideas, makes you question your own lifestyles and the impacts that they have on the environment. After reading the book and looking at all of the graphs and statistics it contains I find to hard to believe that some people still don't accept that climate change is happening. I realise that it is quite a controversial issue and is often the topic of heated debates (I should probably apologise to my family for bombarding them with facts and statistics this evening and for possibly getting a bit too involved in a discussion over who's responsibilty dealing with climate change is and the sustainability of our current lifesyles - although, on reflection, I think they may have been trying to wind me up!) but how much more evidence to people need to persuade them that changes to our environment are happening and that these changes have been caused, or atleast accelerated, by human activity. I really enjoyed the book (and found it very hard to put down!) and I would even say that I enjoyed it more than the film. The book contained lots of images and graphs which made comparisions very easy to make and, the fact that I had it right infront of me, meant that I found it easier to make sense of and analysis what is was the graphs and images were trying to demonstrate. There is a slight political slant to the book (more so present in the film) but this, combined with the geopolitics stuff we have been learning about recently, made me realise that, whether we like it or not, politics plays a huge role in the energy we consume and the impacts our lifestyles have on the environment. There was one image, imparticular, in the book that really made me think about this.......
This picture shows the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and it is very clear to see the difference between the two regions. Deforestation is a huge problem as developing countries, who's populations are growing rapidily, rely on wood as an energy source. Almost 30% of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each year is as a result of the burning of brushland for subsistence agriculture and wood fires used for cooking. It is evident that these two countries have different approaches to the way in which they treat the forest. The foundations of these approaches will be based on politics. Climate change is a global issue and so any efforts to solve this problem need to be universal ones if they are to have a substantial impact. The Kyoto Treaty was ratified by 132 nations but the USA, who are the biggest consumer of energy in the world, and Australia refused to sign it. Also many developed countries, due to the fact that most of the oil used is used for transportation, have implemented requirements on how many miles per gallon cars should do as a minimum. However America, who are well known for driving very large cars, have not followed the other developed countries. Surely, if we are to start to remedy this situation, politician's across the world need to stop focusing on where they are going to source their next barrels of oil and instead invest more time and money in deciding on an action plan, that can be implemented on a global scale, to reduce the impacts our current lifestyles are having on the environment.

So, is this book/film worth reading/watching................well my answer has to be yes. If you are unclear on the evidence for climate change that is avaliable or the impacts that rises in sea levels and changes in temperatures are likely to have on the world then this is ideal for you. In terms of the book vs film, I personally prefered the book as, like I said earlier, you can then really take your time when looking at the images and interpretting the graphs but, from what I can remember, the film has a similar impact and presents the same information. I would definitely suggest that you try and watch either (or both) 'An Inconvenient Truth' or 'The Age of Stupid' sometime over the next few weeks - 'The Age of Stupid' is in the library but I am not 100% sure if 'An Inconvenient Truth' is in there.

Next up on my list of books to read is another Al Gore book, 'Our Choice', which he wrote a couple of years after 'An Inconvenient Truth' to offer the solutions to the problems that were identified in 'An Inconvenient Truth'. I must admit that I am very interested to see what Al Gore believes are the actions that need to be taken to effectively address the issue of climate change and I will right a response to the book after I have read it to explain what his views are and whether or not I agree with him.


  1. Great review, I must admit i havent read the book version but i think i will order it!
    On your point about why we dont change, to me, the changes needed to be a sustainable society and live in an ecologically/environmentally/financially safe way are too huge for most of us to consider, one post i am working on at the moment, is how much different my life would be if there were no fossil fuels anymore, and having considered education, my social life, my activities and hobbies and lifestyle, I'm not sure even the most pious environmentalist would be up for that kind of commitment, it might be worth getting together with my other bloggers and coming up with a "life without fossil fuels" blog post from all our different perspectives!

  2. I have the book at home and you are more than welcome to borrow it if you want to.
    I think it is easy for me, and many others, to turn around and say that I recognise the changes that could and maybe should be made but I think that actually implementing these changes into our daily lives is a lot harder than it sounds. The idea of a life without fossil fuels is an interesting one and it has made me question whether or not, life as we know it, can exist without fossil fuels. The use of fossil fuels is incorporated into every part of our lives and finding replacements for them is going to be extremely hard - if not impossible. I don't think, until you actually really start to think about it, that you can fully appreciate how dependent our lifestyles are on fossil fuels. You mentioned commitment but what about sacrifices....... is development, as we know it, going to have to be sacrificed (as it seems to be dependent on the use of fossil fuels)as part of a global effort to create a life without fossil fuels. This thought links to an idea I have been thinking about for a while for another possible post which could question whether or not developed countries have a right to limit the amount of fossil fuels industralising countries use or do they have a responsibilty, as we now realise the negative impacts they have on the environment, to restrict their use of fossil fuels to develop.