"An Inconvenient Truth:" Happy 10th Anniversary!

“There is the natural tendency that all of us are vulnerable to, to deny unpleasant realities and to look for any excuse to push them away and resolve to think about them another day long in the future.”
—Al Gore

Today marks an important anniversary for the climate movement. Ten years ago today the Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth was released. It was seeing this film that started me on my journey of environmentalism in general, and trying to combat global warming and climate change in particular. And in my travels I’ve learned that I wasn’t the only one so inspired.

It’s especially an important anniversary for Climate Reality Leaders who have been trained by Al Gore to provide talks on his behalf to interested folks. That’s a group I feel very fortunate to be part of. In addition, I’m also a Climate Reality Mentor, having helped to train some of these Leaders myself, including my son Jamie.

Many of us Climate Reality Leaders are honouring this important anniversary by doing any number of leadership acts including hosting a party and watching the movie, giving a presentation, or sharing our story on how we became a climate activist.

Have we come a long way since the movie was first released? You bet we have. Is it far enough? Definitely not. But the momentum is there, and we’re continually moving in the right direction. And as Mr. Gore so aptly puts it, political will is our best renewable resource.

 

Al Gore's Reasons for Optimism

Al Gore has posted three questions about climate change and our future.

Number one: Do we have to change? Each day, our carbon emissions trap the same amount of heat energy as 400,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs. The global warming that arises leads to the extreme weather we’re all witnessing. As Al puts it: “Every night on the TV news now is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.”

Number two: Can we change? We’ve already started (although not quickly enough for most of us) so apparently the answer to that one is yes.

So then, the big question number three: Will we change?

In this challenging, inspiring TED talk that was filmed earlier this month, Al says a resounding yes. As he puts it:

When any great moral challenge is ultimately resolved into a binary choice between what is right and what is wrong, the outcome is foreordained because of who we are as human beings. That is why we’re going to win this.

This 25-minute video is longer than most that I post on my blog, but it’s an important message. If you’d like to watch it, just click on the link.

Al Gore in 1983: Could Be Today

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the old saying goes. On an episode form the classic science program NOVA entitled “Climate Crisis” that was broadcast in 1983, then-Senator Al Gore explained the science behind human-induced climate change. As he put it:

I don’t know if our civilization has ever confronted a problem quite like this. This problem has reached a new level of development. A scientific consensus has emerged and now the debate is over when the first effects will actually be felt.

Decades letter, this same words are just as appropriate, so it’s amazing how there can still be so much resistance from a handful of skeptics and deniers. Progress has been achieved to be sure, but there is still much more work to be done.

Al Gore Talks About Grassroots

Not everyone is a fan of Al Gore. Some of my right-wing friends think he’s duping everyone with his efforts to fight climate change as some sort of grandiose liberal agenda. But whether you think that way about him or not, he makes a lot of sense in this video when he talks about the changes our society has had to face in the past, and the ones we are facing now, and the grassroots movements that make them happen. See what you think.

Climate Reality Leadership Corps: Toronto, July 2015

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

Again my apologies for not getting something much posted last week. That’s the first time in a long time that I went so long without a blog. But the training with Al Gore and the Climate Reality staff was long and intense, and the networking every evening went well into the late night hours, so in short there simply wasn’t the free time to allow me to get things prepared. But now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I can tell you all about it.

The Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Toronto was the 29th such training session that Mr. Gore and his staff have done. There are now over 8000 such trained individuals from about 140 countries all over the world. We had two intense days with our “mentees” and us mentors had to arrive a day early for another six-hour session to prepare us for the busy two days ahead.

The first sessions described the state of the planet in general and Canada in particular. One particularly eye-opening session provided the insurance data from all of the claims that have been made in the last few decades. It was interesting and scary to see how claims related to earthquakes and volcanoes have remained very stable, but that claims related to floods and droughts are on a very steady increase. The insurance industry itself attributes this rise in claims to the effects of climate change.

We also spent part of the first day getting the attendees to craft their own story about why they were interested in being a part of Climate Reality, because it’s important to connect with an audience when giving a presentation. As one person so aptly put it, “I don’t care how much you know, until I know how much you care.”

The rest of the first day was spent with Mr. Gore. He gave the full two-plus-hour version of his updated slide show that included images from events that had happened just days before. Despite its length, the entire room was riveted. Every trainee now has access to all of those slides along with all future updates.

The second morning provided a 40-minute session with Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario. She had many positive things to say about our group, and updated everyone about what Ontario is doing to fight climate change. For example, my province of Ontario was the first jurisdiction in all of North America to completely phase out coal. Along with Quebec and California, Ontario has also participated in a cap-and-trade system for reducing emissions. As a result of Canada’s two largest provinces being involved, more than 75% of Canadians are under this system. It’s obvious there is a lot of mutual respect between Mr. Gore and Ms. Wynne, and that they’re on the same page.

Most of the rest of day two was spent with Mr. Gore. He provided a shortened version of his talk meant to fit within the time constraints of what most requests for a presentation will allow. This was followed up with a Q&A of Mr. Gore and his science advisor.

The very last sessions were dedicated to teaching everyone how to become active and how to get others engaged. As part of this, a “Day of Action” was planned for the following day. All over Toronto, newly-trained Climate Reality leaders were getting signatures for a petition that will encourage the Canadian government to become part of the solution and commit to real change in Paris this coming December. This led to a grand total of 3,675 signatures, quite a feat for one day!

I’ve left Toronto reinvigorated in my passion to tackle this issue. And I have more than a dozen new Climate Reality leaders under my wing as my mentoring duties don’t stop just because the formal training is done. I’ve already received a number of inquiries from them as they channel their enthusiasm into real plans of action and I’m doing my best to guide them in their continuing journey.

Margaret Mead had it right: together we are all making a difference.