Getting personal on global warming

0 Comments – April 29, 2007

Okay, I admit it.  I am a relative softy. I read this personal editorial by a college sophomore and I felt a little pride in our human race. Not that I agreed with everything she said (more on that later) but simply that she was being active in her community and doing her best to understand and communicate a position. I think if more people thought intensely on a certain issue and took a position, the world would be a better place.

All that being said, I would like to point out a few things in her otherwise excellent article that bother me.

First, she attended a multi-day workshop in Nashville sponsored by Climate Project (Al Gore’s organization). Do you think that this workshop did an effort of presenting both sides of the issue?  Do you think that they took a look at the data and explained multiple ways of interpreting this data such that it was possible to have minimal human induced global warming or do you think it was only the radical, world is going to end pitch? My guess is that Mr. Gore assembled a bunch of activists and spent a great deal of time motivating them to go and change the world. I say this since the young lady discusses not being able to handle even the easiest of challenge questions.

Second, she discusses that Costa Rica has a great program of living closer to nature and says that this means the industrialized world could do the same thing without hurting our standard of living.  The last I checked, Costa Rica had a standard of living that was significantly below the US and Canada. They have a higher mortality rate, a higher infant mortality rate, and receive a great deal of aid from other countries. I am not convinced that a program that might work for Costa Rica would work for the industrialized world.

Maybe I am not such a softy after all?

To most of my generation, global warming isn’t that terrifying.

You can tell teenagers that rising sea levels will cause water to pour into the streets of Manhattan in 50 years, but this can’t compete for attention when students are massacred on college campuses, American soldiers are killed in Iraq and genocide is raging in Africa.

This January, I officially became a member of the former vice president’s cavalry, a group now 1,000 strong, with one mission: to get others to join the fight against global warming. I attended a workshop in Nashville sponsored by the Climate Project, the organization Gore founded, where volunteers are trained to present a slide show based on Gore’s global warming film, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

I returned home certain that I’d be able to convince all the budding drivers on Long Island to get hybrid cars. When I went to school that Monday, however, I received a reality check. In response to one of my e-mails about recycling, one freshman sent an e-mail to the whole school saying, “Scientists say global warming is caused by CO2. Everyone hold your breath.”

I also tried to destroy the misconception that “going green” will reduce our standard of living by telling stories about my school trip to Costa Rica, where we went to a town and a school that were completely funded by a reforestation program. This country, which many consider “developing,” has extensive recycling and reforestation programs, and uses hydroelectricity extensively. Combining these stories with the Climate Project’s intense photographs of glaciers melting and rivers drying up, I was able to keep the attention of many in the audience.

You can read the rest of the article here.  It really is worth the read, even if I was somewhat cynical.  At least she is trying to do something that she believes in.

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