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People have a blind spot concerning their computers, the internet, and modern communications. For a while now (since about 15 years ago) I’ve thought about the seeming inconsistency of people worrying over the internet about what is the greenest way to make a change in their lifestyle, and discussing it throughout the world wide web. The changes, while laudable, may have little impact. Meanwhile they are getting the latest PC/PDA/Cell Phone/iPod, etc every few years, leaving their machines on all the time so they stay in touch, using massive web resources to get their messages across, and happily paying the electrical bills for same. These items are often replaced every 2-4 years (half the average replacement period for a car), contain steel, non-biodegradable plastics, toxic rare earth elements, require a huge infrastructure to maintain, have probably the worst and most deliberate obsolescence factor of any class of products on the planet, and are probably expanding their markets as fast or faster than any other class of products. Bill Gates isn’t the richest man in the world for nothing. If you try and break it down into what factors may be ecologically or climatologically unsound, interesting questions arise, regarding:

  1. Construction of the devices
  2. Construction of the communications networks, including land-lines, fibre-optic cables, wireless LAN networks, satellites and their replacements
  3. The facilities and infrastructure related to the facilities used to store and retransmit data over the web, especially considering the amount of information that the general public puts online (Google has hundreds of facilities, each with lots of servers, for example)
  4. Energy needed to run them, and the “Vampire energy” they use even when “turned off”
  5. Heat production, and energy needed for the cooling systems required to dissipate the heat (air conditioners draw energy from the outside to cool things; it is not a closed cycle). There are potential local effects on the environment, for example heating streams and rivers used as cooling sources, etc.
  6. The carbon emissions for much of the above
  7. The ecological disruptions of putting in the physical internet (fibre-optic cables, older cables, launching satellites, the facilities at the hubs, and the ongoing energy costs and pollution produced in acquiring the energy).
  8. The ecological disruptions of mining and otherwise aquiring the raw materials for construction of the devices, and the pollution produced in processing the raw materials and in making the gadgets, then packaging them, then transporting them, then removing them, then getting rid of them…
  9. What happens to most of them when they become obsolete? And what does obsolete mean these days?

I could add things, but this is definitely enough to start with.

Carbon emissions due to Internet servers.

Regarding carbon emissions alone, on the CBC program Spark, Bill St. Arnaud from Global Action Plan claimed that “the worldwide ICT sector is responsible for around 2% of man made CO2 each year – a similar figure to the global airline industry.” There is also evidence that it is growing significantly faster with respect to emissions than the airline industry, at least in the United Kingdom. The magazine New Scientist published an article indication that using a server effectively produces the same carbon emissions as a 15 mile per gallon SUV. One estimate of the number of servers in the world is 160 million, half of them being Apache servers, followed by 50 million MS servers. The number of SUVs in the U.S. was estimated by the Census Bureau to be about 25 million in 2002, up 56% from five years before. So extrapolating, we’d estimate about 55 million in 2007, and then sales slumped due to oil prices and market uncertainty. So we’ll guess about 60 million now. If so, there are about 2.67 servers in the world per SUV in the United States, and they put out about 2.67 times the emissions of the entire American SUV fleet. And the carbon footprint from servers is just the cost of running the bloody things; it doesn’t count construction, maintenance, replacements, etc.

With the number of PCs in the world projected to more than double by 2015, reaching about 2 billion machines, the carbon footprint prediction above is more than plausible, especially considering that much of the increase will be in developing countries, and most of these countries don’t have the greenest energy sources. To compare growth rates and impacts, there are currently about 600 million cars in the world, and they are projected to double in number by 2030. If true, the growth rate of PCs is at least 22 times faster than cars, and there is no reason to suppose that this rate will get any smaller (unless we run out of materials…).

I think it would be safe to say that the computer/internet industry is a bigger threat in the long term than the automotive industry, and accounts for a significant percentage (defined as greater than 1%) of the human carbon impact on global climate change. They’ll definitely beat the airline industry in the short term, which is one of the more notorious polluters.

Aside: the airlines are taking a worse beating than shipping is from environmentalists, especially from the amateur enthusiasts, but shipping does far worse damage. The airlines are responsible for about 2% of emissions, while the shipping industry accounts for 5%. Part of the reason that shipping goes unnoticed is that airlines are more high profile and visible, and more sensitive to popular pressure on their bottom line. Very few people could tell you what the major shipping lines are, or how much pollution they produce. The ships just quietly pollute their way around the world, incidentally dropping a little bunker oil here and there near Newfoundland and Atlantic Canada…

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After work today I went to the doctor’s office. I was slightly proud of myself because I was early; on the other hand, even when I’m late I usually have to wait. It looked a little busy, so I had a seat, and went for a magazine. You might have noticed that the literary value of the reading material in a doctor’s waiting room leaves much to be desired, especially in the last few years.

However, the first thing I found was a copy of the June issue of Harper’s Magazine, and on the front cover was a picture of the little president with an eleven-gallon hat. The main topic was “Undoing Bush: how to repair eight years of sabotage, bungling, and neglect”. It was a forum of prominent columnists and experts discussing the problems and possible solutions to various aspects of the little guy’s administration. They included

The Constitution
by David Cole

The courts
by Dahlia Lithwick

Civil service
by Ken Silverstein

The environment
by Bill McKibben

Science
by Chris (Chris C.) Mooney

The economy
by Dean Baker

The marketplace of ideas
by Jack Hitt

Intelligence
by James Bamford

The military
by Edward Luttwak

Diplomacy
by Anne-Marie Slaughter

The national character
by Earl Shorris


I was 45 minutes in the waiting room, and it gave me time to finish the eleven essays, and it was time well wasted. There was little that was new to me, but it did give me a different perspective on all of the hammer blows that this administration has inflicted on the United States and the world. It’s well worth reading, especially the Marketplace of Ideas, Intelligence, the Military, the Constitution, and finally the National Character.

Only this long until the King’s Horses and Men can get started on the Great Fall.

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I had been working hard all day, and as I left the office we were getting thunderstorms just east of the city. I was hoping they would continue in that direction, as I had no rain gear. There’s one thing about Halifax; if you’re a pedestrian, you see some strange and interesting sights. This is partly because it is a university town, combined with a naval base, combined with a fishing village, and combined with a mix of Scots, English, Acadians, and African Americans, who had all emigrated to Nova Scotia hundreds of years ago. Also, port cities are inherently interesting because of those who visit.

This day there was an American carrier visiting called the Wasp (after the famous World War II ship), and it was also the night of a high school prom. The first thing I noticed on my way home was a nice old Ford (from the 1910’s) with dear old dad (from the 1950’s) driving the kids (born in the late 1980’s), who were appropriately dressed for the gay 90’s (1890’s) in this year of Our Lord 2007.

Then I saw a sign in front of a stylish and brash clothing store catering to the university crowd.

Eye-catching
The store, called the Peepshow, always has unique and flirty advertisements. You should see some of their mannequins.

Then I boarded the ferry to cross the harbour, and I had a nice view of the Wasp from a distance.

Silva Wasp
The “Tall Ship” Silva passed near the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship. The Wasp was in town doing joint security exercises with Canada, and is extremely versatile. For example, it can provide medical care for up to 600 people, can handle flight operations for many aircraft, and can land or load massive amounts of people or equipment almost anywhere.

I've got an idea
Then I saw the small tour boat/bus called the Harbour Hopper (the green boat just to the right of the carrier) much nearer the ship. Then a light-bulb flashed in my head, and when I stopped blinking I went to get a ticket for the Hopper.

Ribbit
The Harbour Hopper is a LARC-V from the Vietnam era converted into a tour bus/boat. It was originally designed to carry up to 5 tons of cargo, and can navigate through 3 metre waves when landing or going into the water. It’s also quite annoying for residents of Halifax, with the tour guide blaring cute anecdotes about the city and history of same, and with the passengers waving to all and sundry. Normally I wouldn’t go near the monstrosity, but I wanted to get close to that ship!

Screwy wheels
Here is what we depended on for locomotion in the aqueous realm. The screw is linked to the wheel drive-shaft, and both turn at the same time, even in the water. The LARC can putter along at about 16 km/h in the water.

Last one in is a rotten egg
After a quick tour of the town and Citadel Hill (I actually learned a few interesting things, and it was late enough and gloomy enough from the looming storm so that we weren’t bothered much by waving) we headed for the ramp leading into the water. Having seen these boats zoom straight into the water, I knew how high a splash they could raise. I had to get a shot of the splash. However, we were all forced to say “Ribbit” very loudly as we went into the harbour. It was very traumatising, and not very complimentary to Kermit, who I have always respected.

Right of Way
We started heading up the harbour towards the carrier USS Wasp. Like on regular streets, you keep to the right. We were scrupulous about observing the rules of the road, as were other boats when they stopped staring at us. The LARC rode the water very well, and had little trouble with the waves from other ships and boats.

Bare Sticks
There were a number of tall ships in the harbour recently. These are the masts of two ships from Brest. In the old days the harbour would look like a denuded winter forest.

Guest from Brest
This is one of two ships visiting from Brest. She looks more like a vessel designed for an inland sea like the Baltic than an ocean-going vessel.

Size matters
Two lookouts and a US Coast Guard helicopter on the flight deck, after a hard day’s work. They really helped me to appreciate the true scale of the ship. If one of them had fallen overboard, just hitting the water wrong would either have seriously injured or killed the person falling.

Perspective
The USS Wasp is about 840 feet long and the flight deck is about 100 feet wide. Plenty of room for four US Football games, or 3.5 Canadian games.

Look up, look way up.

From a distance
Except for the American nuclear carriers, the Wasp is one of the largest vessels in the American Navy.

Sundown on Thunderclouds
There were some storms east of town, but luckily not a drop fell in town, and I had an uneventful walk the rest of the way home.

If you try hard enough, you can always keep from being bored.

a quickr pickr post

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I was updating a previous post about famous ships of Newfoundland and Labrador and noted that many of these ships sank or were lost in storms. There are many aspects to these events and to how they shaped our history, from the Independence Hurricane of 1775 to the deaths of the sealers from the ships Newfoundland and Southern Cross in late March of 1914 (which killed 251 men, as compared to the 255 who died, and the 91 who went missing, at Beaumont Hamel two years later). First, the 1775 hurricane killed about 4000 people, destroyed the French fishing boats and crews at St. Pierre et Miquelon, destroyed a British fishing fleet on the Grand Banks, and devastated many of the outports. The resultant loss of British fisherman available for Navy service hurt the British response to the American Independence movement, and may be part of the reason that this storm is called the Independence Hurricane in the U.S. The sealers on the Newfoundland and Southern Cross were demonstratively young and adventurous, since sealing was inherently dangerous; hopping around on ice pans and living on often rickety boats during March storms is not for the faint-hearted. Many of these men would probably have volunteered for the war, and their deaths also contributed to the lack of young men at the end of the war. There were about 1200 Newfoundland soldiers who died during the war, and the 251 sealers lost on March 31, 1914 amounts to over 20% of the Newfoundland war dead through the entire conflict.

This will be a roughly chronological list of notable marine disasters and ship losses from discovery to modern times either in our waters or significant to our history. There will also be comments on obvious impacts on Newfoundland, Labrador, and the rest of the world. If anyone wants to comment or to contribute new information, I’d really appreciate it.

Our course through history:

  • 1498: John Cabot’s second expedition to North America. One source indicates that the expedition was lost at sea.
  • 1501: Gaspar Corte-Real, who vanished in 1501 on a voyage to Newfoundland.
  • 1565?: Basque whaler in Red Bay, Labrador, which may be the San Juan.
  • 1696: HMS Sapphire : Trapped in Bay Bulls Harbour by a French attacking force, she was scuttled to prevent capture. She is a Provincial Historic Site and has produced much archaeological insight into naval life of the times. This was during one of the main periods of French-English conflict in Newfoundland.
  • 1775: Independence Hurricane mentioned above. It hit the South Coast and passed near Conception Bay on September 9. It is also the most deadly hurricane to hit Canada or Newfoundland in recorded history. (see introduction).
  • 1810-1870: Sealing Deaths. It is estimated that between 1810 and 1870 the Newfoundland seal fishery lost some 400 vessels and 1000 men in the ice floes.
  • 1828: Despatch: Ann Harvey of Isle aux Morts, her father, herbrother,  and the Newfoundland Dog named Hairyman saved over 180 Irish immigrants from the wreck of the brig Despatch. The Royal Humane Society issued a special medal for heroism for Ann. In 1938, she and her father also saved a number of people from the Rankin, wrecked at the same spot as the Despatch. Isle aux Morts was so dangerous to shipping that throughout her life she and the other settlers were burying bodies that washed ashore.In 1987, the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Ann Harvey was commisioned.
  • 1847: Hurricane hits Newfoundland, kills 300.
  • 1875: Waterwitch : Wrecked near Pouch Cove. When the ship went aground in a storm with 25 people on board, Alfred Moores, a resident, performed a daring rescue which saved 11 people. He allowed himself to be lowered to the ship by a rope from an overhanging cliff so that he could carry the people to safety.
  • 1898: Greenland Disaster: A sealing steamer. 48 men from her died on the ice in 1898 when a major storm blew in. The ice closed up and prevented the Greenland from closing on the sealers on the ice, while at the same time an interior lead of water kept the sealers from approaching the ship. There was also some discussion of the behaviour of Captain Abram Kean, who was in the area commanding another sealing vessel. Kean later became infamous for his role in the Newfoundland Disaster sixteen years later.
  • 1912: Titanic: Sank April 14-15, 1914 after hitting an iceberg 400 miles from St. John’s. The main Newfoundland link to the disaster is the wireless station at Cape Race, which received and relayed the distress messages from the ship. Also, two years after the International Ice Patrol was founded to track icebergs and ship safety regulations were beefed up
  • 1914: Newfoundland Disaster: The sealing disaster in March, 1914 where 78 sealers died and 11 were permanently disabled. It is poignantly described in Cassie Brown’s Death on the Ice. (see introduction)
  • 1914: Southern Cross Disaster: This is the one that many people (including myself) forget. She was lost with all hands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the same storm that caught the sealers from the Newfoundland on the ice at night. She was last sighted by the SS Portia near Cape Pine, and was never seen again. This counts as the single largest loss of life in the history of the seal hunt, with 173 souls being lost. Combined with the 78 deaths from the Newfoundland, at least 251 people died from the same storm. If you compare that to the casualties from Beaumont Hamel, it adds a new perspective to the dangers involved in sealing. On July 1, 1916, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment bravely attempted a frontal assault on the German front in what is considered the worst military disaster in the history of Newfoundland. 255 were killed, 386 were wounded, and 91 were listed as missing in action and presumed dead.
  • 1918: Florizel : the well-known steamer owned by the Bowring Brothers Ltd. went aground at Horn Head near Cappahayden on the Southern Shore of Newfoundland . The SOS was received at the Admiralty wireless station. Ninety-three crew and passengers perished, while 44 were miraculously rescued after 27 hours spent braving punishing seas and bitter cold. The Peter Pan Statue in Bowring Park is in honour and memory of a little girl who died on board.
  • 1919:Ethie : On November 17 this coastal steamer, commanded by Captain Edward English, went aground during a gale at Martins Point on the West Coast near Bonne Bay. Local fisherman were able to get line to the ship and to rescue most or all of the passengers and crew. There were also reports of a Newfoundland dog towing a rescue line out to the boat, and this became part of a children’s book by Hilary Hyland.
  • 1929: Tsunami on November 18. A 5 metre tsunami was generated by an underwater landslide south od Newfoundland, triggered by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on the continental slope. Twenty-seven people died, and boats, houses, and stages were swept away. While this is the only significant earthquake recorded in Atlantic Canada, it is also the most deadly such event recorded in Canada or Newfoundland. The underwater landslide also cut numerous underwater telegraph and telephone lines, and the timing of when each line cut out allowed scientists to estimate the speed and severity of the landslide. However, it also cut the community off from the rest of civilisation during cold and miserable weather. Three days later the coastal vessel SS Portia arrived, and immediately sent an SOS to St. John’s.
  • 1931: Viking Disaster: The Viking (a wooden ship built in 1881), exploded while shooting footage for the sealing film The Viking . Film producer Varrick Frissel and 26 others died in the explosion. A number of sealers made it to Horse Islands. However, there were insufficient supplies, shelter or medical equipment to keep the men alive for long. Rescue ships, including the salvage tug Foundation Franklin and the Reid coastal steamer Sagona took on supplies and medical personnel and raced to the area. However they were delayed both by a raging gale and by the ice, which had driven in around the island. Here is a transcript of documents from the time of the disaster. This was the first, but by no means the last, time Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders were involved with the Franklin.
  • 1932: Neptune II: Schooner that was commanded by Captain Joe Barbour of Newtown on the Northeast Coast. While not really a wreck, the ship was driven by several successive storms from Newfoundland to Scotland, with the crew of 11 being tossed and turned for 48 days, as described in this book.
  • 1942: Bell Island’s U-boat casualties (Saganaga,Lord Strathcona, P.L.M. 27, Rose Castle): these were bulk iron ore carriers sunk at or near Lance Cove on Bell Island in Conception Bay. Bell Island has the dubious distinction of being the site of the only artillery fired in defense of North America in the Second World War, due to these attacks.
  • 1942: World War Two Submarines: At least 3 U-boats and one British submarine sank within 250 nm of St. John’s. The type IX U-656 sank about 25 miles from Cape Race, and the British P-514 was rammed by a merchant vessel near Cape St. Mary’s.
  • 1942: CaribouDisaster: One of the most famous of the ferries running between Newfoundland and Canada. It was torpedoed by U-boat U-69 on October 14, 1942, during the critical period of the Battle of the Atlantic. 147 passengers and crew lost their lives. The skipper Ben Taverner and his two sons went down with the ship. The coastal boat Taverner was named after him.
  • 1942: USS Truxton and Pollux: (much of this is a direct quote from SkylarkD, and this entry is due to her kind suggestion) These two U.S. Navy ships ran aground near St. Laurence, Newfoundland on February 18th, 1942. 203 sailors died; 185 were saved. Well, it turns out that there was only one African American survivor of the U.S.S. Truxton, named Lanier Philips, and he says that it was the hospitality he received from the people of Newfoundland after the disaster which led him to become a civil rights leader for equality for all races in the U.S. military.
  • 1977: William Carson: An Icebreaking passenger/car ferry. Commissioned in 1955, it was a huge ferry for its time. For the first two years it couldn’t dock at Port aux Basques, and used Argentia until docking facilities were expanded. In 1977 she was struck by a small Iceberg near Battle Harbour, Labrador, and sank with no hands aboard (no one died). Joan Morrissey wrote a fairly funny song about he Carson and its importance to the province.
  • 1982: Ocean Ranger: At the time the largest semi-submersible oil rig in the world. On February 15, 1982 she sank with all hands. The supply vessel Seaforth Highlander was almost able to rescue some, but they failed by mere feet. As a result of this disaster the offshore oil industry has been changed, with changes in rig design, operational procedures, safety equipment, and extensive emergency and lifeboat training.

General References and Links:

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Earlier this year the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay and other such facilities were entitled to the rights spelled out in Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. They also ruled that the detainees had the right of habeas corpus. Without this right a person can be detained indefinitely without any recourse to the court system to determine the legality of the detainment.

Article 3 states the following:

Article 3

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

Article 3, and the Supreme Court decision upholding it, limits the methods allowed in interrogations and other questioning by American forces, and further limits the type of evidence allowed to be used in military commissions. It must be understood that the American military commissions follow different practices than that of the US Judicial system, as well as the court martial system used for the military. Both of these systems give people approximately the same rights. The military commissions for Guantanamo give the defendants far fewer rights, and allow evidence to be entered that has been obtained by hearsay, coercion, or torture. There are also limitations on the choice of legal defence, etc. The Supreme Court argued that the military commissions established to try the detainees violate US Law and the Geneva Conventions.

This week the Military Commissions Bill (MCS) of 2006 passed through Congress with a majority in both Houses, and is ready to be signed into law by President Bush. It addresses the issues leading to the Supreme Court’s previous decision by legalising some of the practices addressed by the court decision, by giving the President increased authority to interpret what is acceptable as torture, and by denying the right of habeas corpus in any US court jurisdiction to the detainees, thus allowing them to be detained indefinitely without judicial recourse (there is a military review board, however). In addition, the President has the right to interpret the Geneva Conventions, and the courts have no legal recourse to question his interpretations.

This gives the government more powers and authority than before the earlier Supreme Court decision, and attempts to reduce the jurisdiction of the court system. Some have argued that this is a precedent to reduce the constitutional powers of the judiciary relative to Congress and the Executive Branch.

However, when I heard about this I went surfing for more information and I came upon a very interesting blog entry. It discusses the issue very carefully, and there are some interesting implications and implied contradictions in the new legislation. I would highly recommend that you read it.

The blog is Balkinization. The author is Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale University. In particular look at his points regarding the legality of some of the authorised actions in the bill versus the means to bring to account those who choose to choose questionable actions.

Here is a quote from Dr. Balkin’s entry:

Let me repeat what I have just said: The MCA continues to recognize that certain conduct is illegal, but attempts to eliminate all judicial remedies for such violations. That means that if the President violates the MCA, he still fails to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, which is his constitutional duty under Article 2, section 3 of the Constitution.

Well worth reading.

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This movie sneaks up on you.

Ostensibly it is the story of how Captain John Smith helped found the Jamestown Colony in Virginia, and of the story of Pocahontas and her love for the Captain. It shows how she saved the Captain from death by her father Powhatan, and how she encourages her tribe to help the settlers survive starvation. Pocahontas marriage and trip to England, where she is favourably reviewed by King James, is also detailed. Given the information available, the movie is faithful to the historical records and biographical details of the various players in this story.

Having said this, the movie tells a number of other stories. It shows the Europeans and the Algonquians as realistic characters, both moving together into a strange new universe of understanding. The land and water are some of the main characters of the movie, being vast, serene, still, and yet full of life. People (Native and Settler) live within this world, but they are swallowed up in the immensity and cathedral-like forests and plains. This movie is by no means an action-adventure spectacular.

The story of the young Algonquin girl fascinated and affected me the most. She was perfectly cast, connects with you immediately, and draws you through the main theme of this movie. The interaction between her and the worlds she graces were the most compelling aspects. I don’t want to give anything more away, but I was exptremely impressed by Q’Orianka Kilsher, who was 14 while acting for this drama.

Be patient and give it a chance. Highly Recommended.

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At the end of the movie, the audience applauded.

This was on a Thursday, when there usually aren't too many people, but the theatre was over 3/4 full. I had to wait in line to get in.
I have a confession to make. My background in oceanography and meteorology has made me familiar with many of the arguments and much of the evidence regarding global climate change and global warming. Between 1991-1996, I worked with an oceanographer with an international reputation in global climate change, modelling feed-backs that could and may have turned off the thermohaline circulation in the ocean (the so-called global conveyor belt). My current research supervisor is also internationally recognised in climate change research. Throughout my career I have attended many presentations by good researchers on climate and climate change, and have tried to keep an objective viewpoint on this highly politicised issue.

What I'm trying to say is that I have learned enough to usually spot false claims and skewed data. In my considered opinion the new movie narrated and presented by Al Gore is on the whole honest, with carefully considered arguments. Admittedly he has an agenda to promote, but as alluded to in the title, it is based on evidence and not wishful thinking. And I have to admit that I learned a fair bit, mostly about all the evidence can effectively be put together into an incontrovertible argument for the logical and moral necessity for fighting climate change.

What impressed me most about the movie was the overall argument and the choice of facts that he presented. I have to admit that I attained a new perspective on data and conclusions that I had learned over the years. The presentation of this evidence is anything but dry, and he is able to relate it to his own life, and to ours. Gore is able to explain a number of fairly subtle physical mechanisms and their climate implications clearly and (basically) correctly. He also avoids trying to explain more subtle processes that wouldn't make sense to laymen. Gore obviously has and has had access to information and to world experts, and he has the ability to cut through technocratese to the main points and proof of a given argument.

Finally he shows how political will can and has made a difference in the world climate. For example, he discusses how CFC ban greatly reduced the ozone hole problem. He also shows how becoming green can be profitable, and how the United States can follow the rest of the world and even provide leadership in the global warming crisis. As an aside, did you know that China has cleaner automobile emission standards for its vehicles than either Canada or the U.S.?

This is one of the best documentaries I have seen, and one of the best scientific presentations of the accepted data and theories. It is interesting, exciting, compelling, and the clear way he presents the evidence without oversimplifying hits you over the head like a pile-driver. But throughout he maintains a compassionate and understanding rapport with the audience; he does not declaim and neither does he preach and browbeat.

Go see it. More important, get people who doubt or don't care to go see it. You will not be disappointed.



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