Thursday, August 14, 2008

Everything's Cool

I didn't bother to see The Inconvenient Truth. I'm prone to be reflexively suspicious of any documentary that's receiving a lot of hype, especially if it features a politician. Nor did I bother to see Leonardo DiCaprio's The 11th Hour because I'm prone to be reflexively suspicious of any documentary that's receiving a lot of hype, especially if it features Hollywood personalities.

That said, I long ago embraced the idea of Global Warming-- well before Gore or DiCaprio decided it needed national attention. I lived in Branson during its booming years when they were flattening hills and cutting down trees to make more highways and put up more theaters and hotels. They devastated the very landscape that drew people to the Ozarks, just like they did in Hawaii where my husband grew up (he's fond of singing bars of "They tore down paradise and put up a parking lot" by Joni Mitchell). I said then (and I'm no genius; it was just simple math to me) that there was no way we couldn't avoid the damages it was going to exact upon the environment. And Branson is just an example of the toll our greed has taken. Consider the decimation of the rain forests, our urge to create bodies of water where there weren't and drain bodies of water where we didn't want them. Then add the pollutants we're cranking into atmosphere, which is what everyone generally points at as the cause. And wallah! Houston (and a whole lot of other cities) we have a problem.

My husband, ever the skeptic and always a Republican (but I love him anyway), took a little longer to embrace the idea of global warming. For a while, he bought the party line that it wasn't happening at all. But just a year or so ago, he changed his mind. "Okay, there's global warming, he said. "But we're not causing it. It's cyclical. The earth has always done this." Well, it was at least closer than denial.

I know about the science that says this is simply a phase, that we don't know enough about our climate's history to blame it on ourselves. And I'm sure you've heard the oft reported evidence, Little Ice Age. This had my attention too, until I learned that there's some doubt as to whether the LIA was a global event or not, that it may have only taken place in the Southern Hemisphere, unlike what our planet is experiencing now. It makes less sense to me for the entire earth to suddenly arbitrarily decide to change it's hair-style, than it does to pin a cause to it and since we're the most active, destructive creatures on its surface, it stands to reason that we're the cause. At least that's my take on it, but I'm often assured that I'm not terribly logical by nature and I'm far too much of a bleeding heart (Husbands have many, many useful purposes in life, but they aren't a great choice when it comes to letting someone do your thinking for you).

Earlier this week, I was casting around for a documentary to watch with the boys (I'm trying to ease us back into the cycle of learning so I'm running a lot of these in the background) and I ran across: Everything's Cool. This documentary was a solid take on the history of the topic as well as eye-opening report on our government's role in suppressing the scientific information surrounding the subject. In fact, that second one caught yours truly by surprise. I guess it shouldn't have, but then I'm lately getting a crash course in exactly how self-serving our government has become in just the last thirty years. You'll have to bear with me while I catch up.

The family's response to this show surprised me a little. The boys (God-bless 'em, everyone of 'em is a tree-hugging geek) were entranced. Fifteen minutes into it, my husband wandered in to see what we were up to. He sometimes feels the need to provide the "rest of the story" when I'm offering lessons like this, which is fine. I suppose a counter-point isn't all bad. But this time, he asked if we could start it over. I braced myself for a background litany of disparaging comments.

But they didn't come. He listened without a word, only asking to back up and hear certain sections again when he had to leave the room. In the end, the kids made various comments about the subject, we had a discussion about the scientists who made the most sense to us and the government's role in trying to bury the subject.

Gary was quiet for a long time. He went off to the computer and did a search on the various names in the movie, but he still didn't say anything. In fact, other than commenting that it was one of the most engaging documentaries he'd seen in a long time, I haven't heard another word from him. So maybe he's rethinking his stand, I dunno.

Regardless, this is a well done documentary and one I'd highly recommend if you're interested in an entertaining, but less glamorous or political take on the subject of global warming.

Meanwhile, I found the following video on John Cusack's blog this morning. Our current energy crisis is being handled with our government's usual skill and efficiency. What's more the newest candidates are demonstrating a pretty poor grasp of the actual problems we're facing. You know how they say that the higher you climb into atmosphere the less oxygen there is. Reduced Oxygen produces poor brain function. Maybe this is true for those in government too. The more time our candidates spend in Washington, the less they seem to think for themselves. Or think at all. Perhaps we should send them oxygen tanks. I'm with Dennis Bryant on this one (BTW, you should visit Dennis' blog). Vote 'em all out and don't replace 'em. No incumbents, none of the time.


Pencil Writer said...

Hmmmm. I think "global warming" is kind of a huge misnomer for the problems humans create without considering the long-term effects of the changes they have wrought upon the environment.

I also believe that God placed man on the earth He created for them to, as it states in the first chapter of Genesis: let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the flowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. That said, I firmly believe that we reap what we sow. Mankind was entrusted to take care of the earth--that it might multiply and replenish--and continue to be a beautiful, life-giving place whereon man might dwell.

Mankind isn't inherently evil. Short-sighted, I'm sure, for the most part, on many levels. Likewise, mankind is responsible for every choice made--with consequences. I think we should regard this planet as a sacred trust. I like the things I've heard about the native Americans who had traditions of taking care of the resources at hand--accepting them as a sacred trust--and working with them for their life-sustaining properties, i.e. shelter, food, clothing--without waste or wanton ravaging of those resources.

I hate the fact that we're a throw-away society. We have, in part, reaped what we've sown--there's WAY TOO MUCH garbage in way too many garbage heaps around the globe.

All that said, I agree that government hasn't, for the most part, got a clue about how to run things properly--too many folks looking out for #1 and wanting to relieve us of our hard-earned income to enable them to do it--whatever IT comes to their minds--all the while telling us, trying to sell us, on the idea that THEY know better than we what is best for us and for our money.

Anyway, this earth is still a beautiful place. I've seen much of it that reminds me that it is. We can do more to keep it beautiful, for sure. Pride and greed are at the core of corruption, I think. Those things never produce good effects on the earth or its inhabitants.

Dennis Bryant said...

If the federal government were a corporation, the share holders would have voted off the chairman and entire board of directors by now. I'm just saying...

And you also got me thinking--I've never really laid out my perspective on the whole global warming debate. I'll have to work on that this weekend.

Mary Paddock said...

PW--We are on the same page in just about every respect. Stewardship extends to taking care of everything we've been given.

Dennis--I'll be watching for it. :)