With this book, the author, former Vice President Al Gore brings together leading-edge research from top scientists around the world; photographs, charts, and other illustrations; and personal anecdotes and observations to document the fast pace and wide scope of global warming. He presents, with alarming clarity and conclusiveness - and with humor, too - that the fact of global warming is not in question and that its consequences for the world we live in will be disastrous if left unchecked.
I'm a reasonable environmental conservative. I don't believe in using resource that don't need to be used. And I believe that anyone wasting our resources is wasting them for everyone and, as such, should be subject to ridicule, ostracism, and perhaps some fines to fund orphanages.
The main problem with this book, though, is that it is utterly boring. When Gore isn't repeating discredited science (the deforestation section), he's lazily mucking through tired examples.
My employer has been focused on helping the environment for over 40 years, so, when this movie came out, they pretty much made it mandatory. When I pointed out that the movie wasn't coming to where I lived, they sent me a copy of the book.
I was expecting, from all the talk around me, and from the endorsement of my employer, that this book would shock me in some way, show me things I'd never known before. And all I got was a Power Point presentation of all the same old crap.
I won't get into all the issues I have with Power Point, but I will say that if you think you're getting shockingly honest, high-resolution scientific information from some blowhard and a few slides, you're in serious need of an education.
Often books dealing with environmental issues and current events become quickly dated. An Inconvenient Truth mainly deals with the scientific data behind global warming, laying out the case that human activities are releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, causing global warming and ultimately endangering the natural systems that regulate the planet. All of this data still seems relevant. The book still makes the case for taking action on climate change very eloquently (and convincingly in my opinion) with words, charts and graphs, maps and stunning photographs. Its layout and typography seem fresh and contemporary, but serious and scientific at the same time. It closely mirrors the movie and at times leaves the reader with that same "Powerpoint Overload!!!" feeling. Nonetheless, I find it an excellent presentation overall.
To me, it is the fact that only 20 of 320 pages are devoted to solutions that makes the book seem dated. I like to think that most people who would be inclined to take action on an environmental issue now accept the reality of global warming. The only serious points of debate that remain are about the most expedient and equitable way to do so and the book provides little of relevance to this debate.
Quote: “We have everything we need to begin solving this crisis, with the possible exception of the will to act.”
I was more impressed by this work than I thought I would be. First of all, whether you agree or disagree with his opinion, you have to be impressed by this work- it is beautiful, understandable, and intelligent. I took a class about global warming, but I don’t think someone who had no particular experience with this subject would find it at all incomprehensible. Furthermore, Gore keeps the political “I told you so” to a minimum, which is to his credit, as is the fact that he focuses on science, not just sensationalism. If you have any interest in this topic, and Al Gore thinks you should, you should read this book.
As someone with little technical knowledge of these things, I found this book very useful. Gore presents the facts in a clear, logical way that's easy for non-scientists to understand. (Scientists and scientifically-minded individuals, in contrast, may find the book too simplistic). He uses powerful visuals and concisely stated facts to get his message across. I found the book difficult to put down. Each segment flows effortlessly into the next, effectively drawing the whole thing together.
Gore has also interspersed short personal essays about his own involvement with the environment and the fight to stop climate change. These pieces added a nice personal touch and gave Gore's involvement some context. The reader learns where Gore's coming from and just why he's so committed to these issues.
You've got to read it!
The subject of the book and the points it makes are exactly the same as the movie. In fact, the only real difference is that the pictures don't move and the voice of the narrator is your own.
If you liked the movie, the book is a great addition to your library. If you dind't like the movie, the book isn't likely to change your mind.
We saw Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth this weekend (July 17, 2006). I had actually already read the book, and was curious to see his Apple Keynote based presentation, just to see what state of the art is in presentations (not a bullet-point to be seen), as well of course to be warned that the world as we know it is coming to an end, and if I do nothing, it is my own damn fault. The movie basically stars Keynote, with Al Gore as a supporting actor.
Lots has been said about if this Al Gore was what we saw in 2000, ... maybe he would have been elected President. I am not sure the average American really wants to hear about environmental problems though, but at least he wouldn't have been quite so stiff or in search of himself. He certainly could have pulled some votes from the left, but would he have lost the center?
Unfortunately, this movie is an eye-opener for people. I say unfortunately, for their eyes should have been opened before. The CO2 data is not new, though some of the pictures of receding glaciers are.
The movie remains a brilliant piece of propaganda. (It is propaganda, not science, not even science reporting, since it is in the end a call to action, not merely information). Al Gore asserts consensus in the scientific community about the direction of global climate change (on average it is getting warmer and more carbon dioxidic) and in a bit of a shell game implies there is also consensus about the magnitude of change, and its consequences.
In particular, it is worthwhile to consider the Daisyworld Model as a possible framework for considering consequences.
What happens when CO2 goes up? Temperature rises. What happens when temperatures rise? Things that thrive in a warmer environment are more successful. One question is, does that success then dampen the increase? I.e. does the life in the warm environment (e.g. the increased proliferation of life in what once was polar bear country, the giant frozen landmasses and sheets of ice of the northern hemisphere) then absorb more CO2, limiting the effect? The second question is: how long does it take? (And what people and what species get displaced in the meantime).
The Figure used from the Vostok Antarctica ice core, which was also in the movie, correlates dust, CO2 and temperature over the past 400,000 years. Note that every increase is followed by a crash (there does not seem to be a secular trend). (Interestingly the rises are faster than the falls.)
Some of the variation is due to solar-earth variations, e.g. (Milankovitch cycles), clearly an exogenous source (the earth's weather and biology is not changing the Earth's tilt (we hope)), but that must be coupled with biological responses.
A manmade exogenous force (CO2) might be expected to have effects on climate as well, but perhaps those are self-limiting (see Daisy World or the cyclic evidence), or maybe they will run amok (see the planet Venus), we don't know. It is all very complicated.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't act, but why do humans need propoganda and false certainties presented to us to act?
So, see the film, and act. Or don't see the film and act. Or see the film and don't act. Or don't see the film and don't act. Those are your choices.
Gore breaks down the complex idea of global warming by dividing the chapters into relatable subtopics. Each subtopic plays a large role in supporting Gore's claims. The only problem, however, is that possibly in an attempt to be brief and to the point, Gore has oversimplified many issues while sensationalizing others. For example, when writing about the effects of Katrina--a storm claimed to be caused by effects of global warming--Gore focuses on only New Orleans rather than mentioning the several other affected cities of the Gulf Coast.
If I were to use this book in a upper grade classroom, it would be part of a larger example of how to use fact-based information in persuasive, informative, or argumentative writing. Gore does well in driving his point home, and I think that is an excellent skill to learn from his book about such a controversial issue.
The talk about God is, no doubt, politically necessary, even for an erstwhile presidential candidate.