The world can certainly do better than this. Here's why.

Saturday, June 28


At the outset, I ought to give my reasons for holding suspect any that deny global warming is both caused by humans and is a great threat to all life on Earth. In the broadest of terms, an outline of my objections. More details will be made clear in analyzing the film.

First, no natural system, alone, can account for the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is put forward in the film that the massive increase of atmospheric CO2 is the result of oceanic release and other such natural sources. Certainly, the amount of atmospheric CO2 has drastically increased with the release of gases trapped beneath the melting polar ice caps. These “natural” carbon sources are, however, affected by the actions of humans. Humans have simultaneously amplified the quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and undercut natural carbon sinks, ensuring that once the CO2 is in the atmosphere is there, it stays there. By upsetting a natural balance, no matter how small a “drop in the ocean” it appears, the record shows that this period of history is different than any other. This is the greatest aspect supporting anthropogenic global warming.

Second, humanity has never before been so widespread, nor as large a population on the face of the earth. Warming is melting the polar ice sheets and is causing a change in ocean levels. Any shift in ocean levels will have a catastrophic effect on low-lying areas and the people living there. Those who cannot move and do not have the economic or technological capacity to build dikes or levees to hold back the flood will suffer. The United Nations Security Council, among other world government and non-government bodies, has both reported on and resolved to address security issues surrounding climate change. Security issues range from environmental refugees to natural disaster response to changes in food harvest quantities. Further, conflicts arising from displaced populations, destroyed infrastructure, and shrinking food supply for a growing population must also be addressed.

Any change in global temperature will produce a consequent change in insect and animal populations. Bacteria and viruses that move with these vectors will also shift. Consequently, any who cannot afford extermination of the animals or vaccination against the diseases, will suffer immensely and in unpredictable ways. Never before have diseases been induced to be so resilient and survivable in the face of modern medicine. To add to the mix environmental resilience is to elevate any threat posed by these organisms, ranging from nuisance to deadly.

Third, living systems thrive on internal stability. The biological principle is called homeostasis. It follows, then, that aggregates of living systems thrive best in an internally stable system. Further, because of its sheer size, the worldwide aggregate of living systems is much more tightly balanced and does not undergo radical shifts. It wasn't until well into the industrial age that this global aggregate of living systems was called the biosphere.

Now, as it has ever been termed, it’s "our world." The biosphere is seen to be undergoing a radical shift, the increase of atmospheric CO2 coupled to warming, the stability once enjoyed by all life is spinning away. Our world can be exploited in any way, shape, or form we choose as long as we own it. The problem is, we, humans, don't own the world, we share it with everything else that happens to live or exist here and only here. As such, the human capacity to manipulate the world must be guided very carefully.

The present scenario, coupling warming to CO2 level increase is not mentioned in the film. Instead, the film mentions an eight hundred year lag between cause, warming, and effect, increased CO2. It does not address the logical conclusion, whatever increase in atmospheric CO2 we experience now as a product of the last warming, eight hundred years from now we can expect another spike.

This film addresses the climate change with the same sense of immediacy that justifies violence: the ends justify the means. It applies the false rationale that we can put off the concerns of the future for gains now. Burning fossil fuels and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is not really that bad because we can do more with the present systems in place. Warmer climate, in past examples, is a signpost of prosperity – at least in the parts of the world that matter. Traditional economic and industrial development are the high-held ideals for the underprivileged nations of Africa, but parts of the world such as South Asia, the Pacific Islands, Central and South America – those most likely to suffer – go unaddressed.

People talk about their concerns. This film argues that environmentalism is so "politically-charged" that it overarches all other considerations. This is a straw-man argument, at best. It sets up environmental concerns as valueless and the attacks the value of discussing the environment. Further, it casts the establishment – the top 20% in the global economy – as victims. It virtually denies that the side opposite, the side that disbelieves or actively discredits anthropogenic climate change is represented at all in the media.

I'm confused. General Electric is the world's most powerful company and is, itself, a multimedia empire without peer. Energy corporations advertise with, and hold stock in, every major media outlet in the world. These corporations hold massive influence over the messages that media outlets relate to the public. It is this way that popular public opinion is shaped. If environmentalism is, as the film asserts, simply a political hot-potato utilized to win elections and public support; if scientists have been, as the film asserts, lying for financial gain; why continue the charade? Does it still make sense to be very, very concerned about climate change?

True things ring true. The unexamined life is not worth living. The environment is where all things live and struggle for life. We live in an age of air quality and ground-level ozone measurements, smog, and associated health disorders. Pollutants other than carbon dioxide being injected into the environment must be looked at. Human food production is an industrial enterprise and the environment bears the impact of feeding 6.7 billion people daily. Failing crops and soil depletion must be considered. Food, resources, and other products are transported all across the world at great environmental impact. Wars are fought for resources and, soon, food scarcity might be cause for war. The wars that are fought over control for the world's resources, whether fought on desert sands or in corporate boardrooms or in houses of national assembly, must be observed endlessly. Explosives and logistics of warfare exact both an environmental and human toll. It must be debated. Therefore, the environment, for better or for worse, will always be a political issue.

This film attacks the veracity of environmental science and, consequently, the veracity of the environmental movement for political change. The film supports the current global environmental policy – plunder at will. Use, exploit, cheat, deny, and sell for profit. As a policy, there is no room for growth or change. Most notably, there is no room for responsibility. To accept, to any degree, that human activity has any impact on the environment is repugnant to the policy in place. This film lends weak justification to this policy.


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