September 09, 2006 | Ronda Jambe

Very Gore-y, but not gory enough

A friend on the East Coast of the USA complains that An Inconvenient Truth is not playing at any of the local cinemas. That’s about 150 films per day within a 30 km radius of her house. After seeing the SBS program about the Bush admin’s suppression of information about the reality of global warming, it makes me wonder what’s going on.
But she’ll see it eventually, as I hope all of you will. Whatever the reviews have said, whatever your disposition on the issue, it is the prime obligation for a citizen right now to be as informed as possible about this one.
The show is easy to watch, and Gore’s laconic approach is almost laid-back Aussie. He does not confront, just the facts, M’am. The stats and video clips of dissolving glaciers are (pardon me) chilling. He hints at but doesn’t dwell on the worst case scenarios. These can be gleaned from the news, which every day now seems to offer another finding about the speed and impact of what may now be ‘the tipping point’.
The web site he refers us to,, offers the usual mild exhortations to walk more, insulate, only run the dishwasher when full, use a clothesline, change to low energy light bulbs, etc. And of course, we are encouraged to get involved, lobby for change, etc.
The presentation, while clear, correct and memorable, was surprisingly US-centric, considering it has been shown to many international audiences. And as with most of the discussion about global events, it passed over or underplayed the impact of sheer numbers of humanity as a key driver of crisis.
About 75 years ago, there were just 1.5 billion of us, and almost no cars. Surely there is an optimum number of people for this planet, given that most of us want electricity, fridges, computers, and access to old episodes of Black Adder.
So I’ll turn down the thermostat, compost my food scraps, eat still less red meat and ride my bike until eventually, my sight and hearing failing to keep me alert, someone in a 4 wheel drive mercifully runs me over.
But until our government wakes up to the need for change, the odd green gesture is unlikely to have much impact.
A quote from Einstein: We can’t solve the problems of today with the same kind of thinking that created those problems in the first place.
And expecting indivdual action to solve climate change, while national policy rampantly undoes all those small efforts, is just more of the same. An article in this week’s New Scientist by George Monbiot (one of my heros, and he has a new book coming out) dumps scorn on the idea of electricity micro-generation, particularly the micro wind generators that are getting a lot of good press lately. He says they just don’t deliver, are more expensive and more trouble than they are worth, and that off-shore wind farms have much more promise.
Well, there go my fantasies of mini-wind generators for a little eco-village at the coast….
But do see the Gore film, even if you’re up on the science of global warming. It is apparently one of the top grossing docos in the US, hence my suspicion about it not being available in the cinemas. You may then want to keep up with fast moving events on or the climate change articles on
And a different approach can be found in Ervin Laszlo’s book The Chaos Point – Earth at the Crossroads. The author is a systems analyst, and takes us through the well-rehearsed complexity background about bifurcations and alternative attractors. Maybe having 8 different kinds of bottled water to choose from in the supermarket isn’t the best measure of national success, regardless of their contribution to GDP or tax revenue.
He suggests that we will break through or break down. So far, my money is on break down, given the evidence of observing the decrepitude of Canberra’s processes and my painful experiences as a Commonwealth public servant.
Did you know the word ‘Commonwealth’ is now out of fashion, and isn’t being used in official documents? They don’t want anyone to actually remember that there is such a thing as ‘common wealth’.
So if we want to wrest power from a corrupt and decadent bunch (the current scandal with Mark Foley in the US has parallels and echos here, but our defamation laws keep the gossip down) we will have to find people who have both ideas and integrity, and who are electable. Can you think of anyone?

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 1:35 pm | Comments Off on Very Gore-y, but not gory enough |
Filed under: Environment

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