Sunday, February 11, 2007

What do I think about "An Inconvenient Truth"?

While waiting for the batch processing to be done on the pictures from the CUMaS Malaysian Food Feast, I thought that I'd blog a bit about something else first. I had actually wanted to blog about this movie the night I saw it but I had already done a bunch of blogs that day and decided against it.

An Inconvenient Truth is billed as a shocking environmental documentary. It is, at present, rated as the 3rd highest grossing documentary. Therefore, I was fairly interested to catch the free screening of it last week at Fitz. Unbeknownst to me, last week was actually Cambridge's 'green week'.

My personal views on this matter are pretty strong and this documentary did little to change my perception on global warming. To me, global warming is a strong political, and commercial tool. Present day science is unable to predict the future. Hence, all the wildly diverging predictions on the effects of global warming [ranging from us burning up in a ball of flame to the coming of a new ice age] are highly speculative. Documentaries like these piggyback on science to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt.

All the scientists agree that global warming *is* happening. Science can conclusively prove that global warming has been happening. Scientists collect historical data and analyse it to show historical patterns. However, that's where the science ends. The fiction begins with the assumption that the patterns will continue, simply because we do not have an accurate model of our environment. Analysing trends is not thought in science but that skill is taught in statistics class. And you know what they say about statistics.

The documentary is peppered with political messages. At one point, it took a direct swipe at the current US regime, which is no longer signatory to the Kyoto Protocol by pointing out the fact that the president's former science advisor had O&G interests. At other points, it paints Al Gore as a champion of the environment while Bush as the person who stole the election.

However, the documentary lost it's credibility by blaming the New Orleans disaster on hurricane Katrina, which is blamed on global warming. This is just plain irresponsible. Any logic minded person will know that the disaster was caused by human error and malaise on a unprecedented scale. It was a disaster waiting to happen and the hurricane merely facilitated it. The disaster response (or rather lack of one) was the direct cause to all the problems, not global warming.

Whichever way you lean on this issue, this documentary is a good way to spend some time. It is highly entertaining, with good production quality and a clear message to spread. Certainly, there are worse ways to spend an hour or two.

*** image from wikipedia ***

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