7:00 pm Thursday evening
I’m inside the movie theatre at Denver Pavillions waiting for Al Gore’s new movie on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, to begin screening any moment now. Al Gore will be holding a Q and A session right afterwards. My seat is great, thanks to Mania TV and Special OPs Media — a blogger press pass.
It’s starting, I’ll live blog the q and a session as soon as the movie’s over.
Movie over, exellent. I highly recommend it. It’s a lot of Gore, he is the movie, but there are excellent graphics and he makes global warming understandable. I know less than nothing about the topic and I came away with some understanding. The use of cartoons in the movie was a great idea, even I could understand those. The scenes of Antartica and Alaska and Mount Kilminjaro were particularly powerful as were the Katrina scenes.
In a sentence, if I’m getting this right, the sun’s rays are not bouncing off ice anymore because of the carbon dioxide layer. Instead, the rays are falling into the ocean which heats up the water which then causes the ice and the glaciers to melt, break off and shrink. Wind velocity picks up when water temperature rises, that’s how Katrina, a category 1 over Florida, became a category 5 over New Orleans. Or something like that.
Other fun scenes in the movie were those showing Gore going through passenger screening at airports, lugging his own bag and still lugging it as he leaves the baggage claim area after arrival. Just your average Joe.
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper introduces Al Gore. Gore is speaking now. He calls Hickenlooper one of the five best environmental mayors in the country. The movie is opening to the public June 9 and Gore wants everyone to get their friends to see it. He’s staying at the Hotel Teatro.
Gore is relaxed and animated. He’s dressed informally, black shirt with open collar, no tie. He says we are facing a planetary emergency, but we have the tools and knowledge to solve the problems.
We’re on the q and a now.
Question: How can we promote alcohol fuels?
Gore: There are better versions now such as celulosic ethanol from switchgrass and sawgrass. He believes cellulosic ethanol is going to be a big part of the solution. He’s all in favor of it.
Question: A doctor says the global warming problem is much worse than Gore says it is because of the human condition –humans are like a malignant cancer.
Gore says we can choose our own destiny. We are an incredible mix of people. He chooses to reject the parasite metaphor, the pathology cancer metaphor. We can choose a different path.
Question: What are the top two obstacles to public understanding of global warming and his solution for overcoming them.
Gore: The first is that we have already changed the relationship between the earth and sun and people resist that. Second is the psychological concept of denial which is very real. Third, we live in a culture of mass distractions. Sustained reflective thought is more difficult in our society. It’s possible from watching the evening news to believe that Russell Crowe’s throwing a phone is roughly comparable to the war in Iraq.
Solution: We need to change the public dialogue, people need to become engaged in the political process so that politicians who don’t come up with proposals to fix the global warming problem will be run out of town.
Question: How high will the temperatures go as a result of carbon dioxide?
Gore: As CO2 rises, so do temperatures. It’s a complex relationship but that fact remains pretty true. He doesn’t answer as to how high, instead saying we have to decide what we are going to do about it. We are not simply pawns in some game of dice. After a few more such statements, he says he is getting far afield and he is. He’s preaching. But at least he stopped quickly.
He says we have to be conscious of what is at stake, it’s a moral and ethical question.
Question: Do our politicians believe in global warming?
Answer: If Bush and Cheney believe in it, I wish they’d tell us.
He repeats a line from Upton Sinclar that is in the film: It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not his understanding it.
He says he can’t get into the hearts and minds of George W. Bush and Dick W. Cheney. Then he says has no idea know what Cheney’s middle initial is, it’s just his (Gore’s) attempt at making a slur. Cheney’s not a good hunter either, he says.
This is getting very free-wheeling on Gore’s part. He’s not exactly answering the questions, but the questions are all preceded by speeches so it’s hard to figure out exactly what the question is. In other words, he’s getting his pre-planned points across by fitting them into questions in an ad hoc manner.
Question: How much time do we have left?
Gore: The question is how long before we pass the point of no return? Maybe 10 years, but it depends on things like if Greenland or the West part of Antarica hold together. If they don’t, the moral implications are pretty significant, not much else matters after that. We want our kids not to have to ask, “How could have our parents have let this happen?”
He’ll take one more question: Where does nuclear power fit in and what about the supply of uranium?
Gore says he is not reflexively opposed to nuclear power but doubts it will play a bigger role than it plays now. He asks the audience about Rocky Flats and the questioner says he works there.
Gore says urnanium is in short supply. I didn’t understand his follow-up to that, it got too technical.
He says nuclear power plants in their present generation of technology are the most expensive, “taking-longest-to-construct” source of electricity. When fuel prices go up, the ability to make a projection about the demand for electricity goes down.
Now he’s on his closing speech. Global warming presents us with the opportunity for a shared moral purpose and to rise above our limits. Rising to meet this challenge can give us the moral ability to meet other crises. He’s shouting now. Loudly.
He says we face crises that are enormous, that are politically cast, such as AIDS, famine, medical care shortages, disease, killing of the oceans and other examples. These are moral issues, he says, not political issues. We have to make them moral imperatives. We can do it.
The end. He stayed around for more questions from individuals.
My final thoughts: Go see the movie. It’s well worth watching. The environment is a global issue we all need to become familiar with. The U.S. is badly lagging behind the rest of the world in addressing it. And the movie was less preachy than his live talk.
From a political standpoint: When the movie opens in June, Gore will become a household word again. Will he run for President? I bet he won’t. He’s having fun doing this and he’s also clearly interested in media, news and television. Politics seemed absent from his radar screen. He seems to have no appetite for it and who can blame him? He wants to change the world and I don’t think he views the Presidency any more as a place to do that. He’s also clearly on a moral crusade.
He mentioned 9/11 a few times, but he always put the terrorist threats behind the environmental ones. That’s reassuring to those (myself included) who think the Bush Administration is milking the terror threat for political purposes. Is there a terror threat, yes. But is it our biggest crisis or challenge? Probably not.
9:45 pm. The End.
Final note: I sat next to Denver powerhouse lawyer Steve Farber for part of the movie (he was excited about the film but had to leave early.) He told me about being with Al Gore the night of the 2000 election in Nashville. Steve said it was the worst night of his life. He doesn’t think Al Gore is interested in running for President either, but he said there’s a lot of very important people asking him to run.