Wednesday, December 20, 2006


An Inconvenient Truth

Last night I was fortunate to be invited to a screening of “An Inconvenient Truth” organised by “the Co-operative”. I think this is the most important film I have seen, and I urge everyone to see it.

Essentially it is a film version of the lecture on global warming that has been given by former US Vice President Al Gore over 1,000 times to audiences around the world in recent years.

Vice President Gore was of course President Clinton’s Vice President, who ALMOST won the Presidential election in 2000, losing to George W. Bush by the tightest of margins. The lecture is what Vice President Gore has been doing since he left office. I think the fact that he’s dedicating his life to spreading the message about climate change, rather than running for President, indicates quite how much this means to him!

Other than a few snippets of his life in Congress and the White House, and some stuff about his childhood the break up the film, the movie is just his lecture on film.

And it is incredibly powerful. Vice President Gore is an engaging speaker, but what he has to say is by turns shocking, affecting and deeply disturbing. Analysing the relationship between increased CO2 emissions and rising global temperatures, he shows how devastating the consequences will be for the planet – humans and animals.

His evidence is overwhelming. The polar ice caps are melting NOW, at a rate which will cause devastating consequences – sea levels will rise, obliterating countries like the Netherlands in their entirety, and flooding parts of the developing world in places like India and Bangladesh that are home to tens of millions of people. And we aren’t talking about rivers bursting their banks and then receding. These places will be underwater forever. And tens of millions will die or be made refugees.

As ice melts, water gets warmer rather than colder because it can absorb far more of the sun’s rays. As water temperature rises, not only does this cause more ice to melt, but increases the risk of hurricanes and heavy rains. It’s happening NOW. Remember Boscastle and New Orleans. This isn’t a problem for some far-off outpost of the world. It’s happening here today. There were more typhoons in the Pacific in 2005 than ever before. More deadly hurricanes in the North Atlantic than ever before. And the first hurricane ever recorded in the South Atlantic.

These things are happening NOW. The atmosphere has many, many, MANY times more CO2 in it today than at any time in human history. This means that the sun’s warming rays are trapped, and the temperature of the planet rises yet further. The top ten warmest years in history have all been in the last fourteen years. This year is the warmest ever. Nature’s order of things – predators being in the same place at the same time as their prey, ice forming to give polar bears a place to rest and breed – they are all changing because of climate change, and the consequences are disastrous.

Some of the most horrendous disasters facing us today – the Darfur genocide for instance – are partly caused by climate related problems. More frequent droughts are occurring, caused by changes to the patterns of rainfall as a result of warmer air flows. Drought leads to refugees, which leads to unrest, which leads to war.

Climate change causes flooding. It causes drought. It causes war, and it causes death.

We have to start to change things NOW.

The Liberal Democrats are the only major political party with a long-standing and absolute commitment to the environment. All of our policies have a “green” thread running through them, because we realise the consequences of environmental damage to our economy, to our health, and to our communities.

Our Green Tax Switch campaign highlights our unique position amongst the political parties – advocating cutting taxes like income tax, and raising taxes which penalise environmentally-damaging behaviour. We want to improve public transport provision dramatically to make it an acceptable alternative to travelling in the car. We want to take action NOW because it is needed now.

This isn’t the moment for small steps. This is the moment for decisive action to save our planet. The Liberal Democrats are the only major party to offer policies that will combat CO2 emissions and make a real difference to the environment.

Bury Liberal Democrats will be showing “An Inconvenient Truth” in the new year. Look out for more details. And, for more information about small things that you can do to help reduce CO2 emissions, read my next post.


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