We may choose to go on with our daily lives as if nothing has changed. But for many of us today, if you’re feelin’ the heat, the weather’s not the only thing on your mind. After countless debates, research, and reporting, our planet’s future is becoming more prominent in the media. Arguments over global warming and climate change are heating up, and this atypically hot autumn is not the only reminder.
In 2006, former vice president Al Gore released what many consider his life’s mission in the form of a documentary that no less than shocked the nation. An Inconvenient Truth culminates scientific data with the dramatic story of what we could be in store for, if the current “climate crisis” goes on unchecked. While some critics have slammed the film as being exaggerated and misleading, others hail Gore’s remarkable efforts and science designed to educate the public on a dire situation which we may only have control over for so long. Upon viewing the documentary, I found myself profoundly moved and utterly shocked by what I saw; it was enough to bring me to tears. Maybe it was the animated displays of New York City sinking below the ocean, or maybe Gore’s expression of desperation to change our daily lives before time runs out. Either way, something moved me. For the first time, I am aware of what was happening around the world, and for the first time, I am shocked into wanting to do something about it.
Now, even though there is still much left unknown about what’s really happening, the general consensus is that a change is occurring. Our climate is definitely warming up, and there are plenty of statistics out there that display what’s changed over the years. According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC):
“U.S. and global annual temperatures are now approximately 1.0?F warmer than at the start of the 20th century, and the rate of warming has… increas[ed] globally since the mid-1970’s at a rate approximately three times faster than the century-scale trend. The past nine years have all been among the 25 warmest years on record…”
Astonishingly, most of these national records date all the way back to 1895.
It is clear what the actual consensus is. The National Atlas of the United States declares, “One of the most challenging aspects of climate change detection is distinguishing natural long-term variations from trends caused by human activity” (Climate of the United States). However, despite the difficulties, the Union of Concerned Scientists USA (UCS) contends that “Because most global warming emissions remain in the atmosphere for decades or centuries, the energy choices we make today greatly influence the climate our children and grandchildren inherit (Global Warming Human Fingerprints).
Humans are clearly not making the right choices when it comes to their planet. Let’s face it. We’re certainly less “eco-friendly” than we should be. Some people out there just care about the earth and the environment; and that’s admirable. They are willing to put forth the effort and have pride in the earth. What about the rest of us? There is so much in this world that is beautiful, that’s too precious to lose. Here’s what UCS has to say:
“The identification of humans as the main driver of global warming helps us understand how and why our climate is changing, and it clearly defines the problem as one that is within our power to address…Flexibility in adapting to those changes we cannot avoid, [gives us] a small window in which to avoid truly dangerous warming and provide future generations with a sustainable world.”
Humans have got to start thinking about the world in which they live, and the world they will leave behind for future generations. Having pride in the beauty of the earth may make all the difference in the choices we make. Al Gore reminds us in the opening monologue of his documentary:
“You look at that river gently flowing by. You notice the leaves rustling with the wind. You hear the birds…The mud gives a little bit on the river bank. It’s quiet; it’s peaceful. And all of a sudden, it’s a gear shift inside you. And it’s like taking a deep breath and going, ‘Oh yeah, I forgot about this.’”
We cannot forget this. We’ve got to fight global warming, before the earth fights for itself.