Monday, February 26, 2007
Air that you can see, smell and taste
Last night, a film starring former Vice President Al Gore talking about global warming won the Academy Award for best documentary feature. If someone would have told you six years ago that the losing presidential candidate would make people care about climate change through a film titled "The Inconvenient Truth," you would have probably thought it was a bad joke. Global warming has become a hot topic (pun intended) over the past few years due in part to Gore's efforts, but also because the effects can no longer be ignored. I am currently in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. It is one of the most polluted cities on Earth. It is a place where the inconvenient truth is painfully self-evident.

The air is thick here. It sticks to you. The temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit/32 degrees Celsius with 60 percent to 70 percent humidity. I can see a black, smoky haze as I walk on the crowded sidewalk. The layer of grime on the streets is proof that the pollution has caked into the environment and the people themselves. I begin to think of my own skin, my own pores. The bad air is slowly seeping through them. My lungs are acting as a filter for the exhaust fumes that surround me. The cars, jeepneys and trucks chug along spewing black coughs of smoke in the never-ending traffic jam.

The health effects of pollution don't affect only developing countries. The impact on health is well documented. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that women who live in cities with the most air particles, such as Los Angeles and New York, are at a 75 percent increased risk for fatal heart disease. Why women? According to the researchers, air particles are harmful to both men and women, but women may be more vulnerable, because they have smaller coronary arteries.

It doesn't stop at heart disease. According to scientists at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, rising carbon dioxide levels go hand in hand with a long list of ill-health risks, not to mention a large role in global warming. An increase in death rates from heart and lung ailments has been linked to high smog days. There are now stronger, longer, more virulent, allergy seasons. Did you know that mold attaches itself to diesel particles? The diesel/mold combination is deadly. The pair embeds itself more efficiently deep inside your lungs.

The Harvard researchers also point to dust clouds rising from drought-ridden African deserts making their way across trade winds. Those traveling dust clouds result in skyrocketing asthma rates, even in places such as the Caribbean, where asthma has never before been a problem. Coincidentally, asthma rates have quadrupled in the United States since 1980.

If there is one thing that Gore's film preaches, it is the interconnectedness of the planet. The United Nations reports that global temperatures will increase 3.2 to 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit (1.8 to 4 degrees Celsius) by 2100. The main cause? Human activity - specifically, carbon emissions from fossil fuels. Last night, Gore told Hollywood and 1 billion television viewers to care about global warming because it's "not a political issue, it's a moral issue."

Do you care about global warming? Do you think you suffer any ill health effects from global warming and pollution? Do you have any tips on how each individual can fight global warming? Or do you think that global warming and it's impact aren't real?

Editors note: See "Gore defends energy saving efforts" on The Ticker blog for Vice President Gore's response to allegations that he wastes energy at his Tennessee mansion.
Do I care about Global Warming? Yes, I do. Do I suffer any ill effects? Not that I know of. Do I have any tips on how to individually fight global warming? Sure, however, are they going to work, no.

One simple solution as mentioned above is to reduce dependance on fossil fuels. Sounds simple, but it's not. In the past 3 years, the prices of gasoline has gone up and down, doubling in price. Public transportation is WEAK, at best. Employers (including my own) aren't cooperative in allowing for employees to change shifts to be ABLE to take public transportation. Hybird vehicles are EXPENSIVE!
So do I care about global warming, yes I do. But until radical changes are made in the way we live, and the real support is behind doing something about it at the government level, I don't think anything will change. The american public struggles to live as is, fuel is expensive, not relying on it is even more expensive.
We inhabit a wonderful planet however our need for bigger and better and more has caused slow but sure destruction of our home. The citizens of our world need to become much more aware of needs of our planet. Just as humans, plants and animals have needs-- so does the enviornment they all live in and tend to take for granted. Our generation lends itself to a quick fix for everything from fast food to a bit of recycling now and then. In reality we need to pass up the quick fix and think long term committment. This planet is the only home we have. It will someday be the home of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Responsibility comes with the right to enjoy this wonderful planet. We all can do a little bit to make our Earth the paradise it was meant to be. Man tends to destroy many precious commodities on this Earth. The fact that we all have a tiny part in destroying the planet itself should wake us up and jerk us into a reality check. With the population ever growing and the need for fuel, housing, food and fast satisfaction on the rise our home is ever dwindling. Self-destruction can create chaos and our future world community may reap turmoil due to the seeds we are sowing now.
Sad but true---our Earth is no longer the place God formed and hung in the heavens for us to enjoy. Our caretaking has been less than adequate.
My thoughts are that we use our technology to help combat global warming. Why don�t we build more Nuclear Generation Stations? The Nuclear Power Plants don�t generate any green house gases like Carbon Dioxide. We could of built about a hundred of the Next Generation Nuclear plants, to replace fossil burning plants in this country, with the 300 Billion dollars spent in Iraq. Foreign oil independence would be an added blessing.
This is exactly what Leaders are for. To show us the way. To do what is best for People & our Planet. Sadly, just a handful of people in Big Business are making Big decisions that affect us all. And their lousy decisions are based only on their profits. It takes courage & a sense of decency to stand up to them. Anybody know any Politicians with those characteristics?? Causes me to have a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach ...
In response to Chris and to K, have more power than you think. Can you do anything? Yes, you can continue to talk about it. You can spark one person to think about it and they may be the person who leads the charge. We can all do our own part by recycling, insulating, looking at and considering hybrids and alternative fuels, and by using foot and bicycle transporation when possible. We can all do our part by using recycled products. We can speak up and we can be personally responsible. Global warming or no global warming....we do not have the right to treat the earth as our personal trashcan. This is a moral issue. This is a health issue. This is a global issue.
First off, a politician writing a film on Global warming is absolute garbage. Secondly, most physicists do not even believe in global warming. What people consider "global warming" is the +2 degrees Celsius change that we have seen over the past few years. Big deal. In a real data set, this would be considered noise. I think global warming is equivalent to religion and it's an act to try and control the masses and to tell them to do "what is right" for their planet. Which, this is easy to do given the persuasiveness of politicians and our president and the relatively low IQ level of the average human being.
I'm sorry, in response to the previous comment suggesting cuts in gas emission from fossil fuels by switching to nuclear power, are you serious? Are you really suggesting we solve one aspect of one ecological issue by doubling another? this thinking is part of the problem. We cannot praise the lessening of carbon dioxide emissions by the production of indestructable nuclear waste. In general, whether you belive in global warming or not, it has to be admitted that there is a lot that can be done to live on a healthier planet. It seems silly to refuse a change for the better until it can be proven that a threat is imminant.
For an immediate help in reduction, switch to floresent lighting. It will cut the price of your electric bill and if everyone did this , our emissions would drop . It is a fast first step to do until everyone figures out alturnative power, solar, wind, and better milage for transportation. We need mass transportation on trains. Yes I'm concerned. We are passing a world to future generations that has been almost distroyed with laziness,greed and power positions coming first. Our wild life has suffered beyond belief, soon thousands of species will and are becoming extinct and those that are left suffer daily. Our trees and plants are suffering, our oceans and water ways are poluted. We are destroying the world and that is the only smoking gun we should be worried about today. It is first and formost. Soon millions of people will not have food, water, and the land once called their home will be under water.

So yes , global warming is not a question, it is a serious serious on going event and we have only 8.5 years left to make the impact of this a little less catostrophic. Wake up World.
You people crack me up. Al Gore as the ambassador for personal change in the efforts to combat global warming. Spare me... and see this:

Mon Feb 26 2007 17:16:14 ET

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research, an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee through free market policy solutions, issued a press release late Monday:

Last night, Al Gore�s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.

Gore�s mansion, [20-room, eight-bathroom] located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).

In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.

The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh�more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh�guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore�s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore�s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore�s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore�s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.

�As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk to walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,� said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.

In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.

For Further Information, Contact:
Nicole Williams, (615) 383-6431
"You people crack me up. Al Gore as the ambassador for personal change in the efforts to combat global warming."

Which of the comments posted here mentioned Al Gore??
On one hand, I have to agree with Ashley. Anyone who knows anything about science, research, or even the basic principles of statistics should know that the Al Gore film was little more than fear inducing propaganda. His claims are overstatements, the data sets are educated guesses, and the visual comparison of �mountains: then vs. now� are shameful misrepresentations. On the other hand, I believe it is necessary to research alternative fuel/energy sources, revolutionize mass transit, and strive for true energy efficiency. One caveat, don�t be tempted to legislate change. If you want to change the world, speak with your wallet. It�s the last true vote you have. Do some research, be a responsible consumer, buy progressive products provided by progressive firms. Business may seem like a great big beast, but it stills requires you to feed it. Choose wisely and you�ll become the change you seek.
I think that people procreate with cosmic speed, but do not have the resources and ability to feed all, to make everyone comfortable. Also, people are not modest, everyone wants more, new clothes, new shoes, new everything, and bigger, and more of everything, and now. I personally am very depressed by what is happening, by ignorant people, by people not seeing future right, by this desire for more and better, and more and bigger. Americans use car to get everywhere, lights are on in houses all the time, wasting water, paper, and other every day. Overeating, not preserving resources, food, water, electricity, energy, clothes, things.
This planet is beautiful, this life is beautiful, but some people do not care, some are selfish, arrogant, ignorant, some are cruel, and a lot are not educated enough to understand. There is a need to open the eyes, and hearts.
Instead of improving and preserving life, some people kill, cause wars, waste a lot.
I think that people need to learn how to be compassionate to life, to this planet, hw not to be so selfish, ignorant. People need to control the population, consumation, need to be more modest.
I do believe that global warming is, in fact, real. Almost every scientific study agrees that humans are responsible for the precipitous rise of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and that these levels are, in turn,linked with higher atmospheric temperatures. Let's use our common sense too...very few have anything to gain (financially, at least) by promoting man's role in global warming, but many have a lot to lose. It is these people who are "muddying" what is otherwise clear evidence that mankind is the cause of global warming.
Of course I think Global Warming is real! However, my car runs on gas. Unlike larger cities where buses and trains ferry citizens to and from work, in our town everything is a drive away...the grocery store, the pharmacy, our jobs, etc. As much as I'd like to shrink my fuel usage, WHAT ELSE CAN I PUT IN MY CAR?

For our family - and many Americans - we'd be happy to change our habits to better protect the environment and stop putting money in the pockets of Middle East Oil, but until an alternate fuel source is made available, our hands are tied. These decisions and changes have to be made at an enterprise level.
Global warming = a scary term. Might be true. Might be the cause of strange weather, catastrophic storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, and killer hurricanes. But Al Gore? Not believeable...nor would I trust him. Let's leave physics to the physicists, weather to the meteorologists and politics to Hollywood and the politicians like Al Gore. When politicians begin telling the WHOLE truth, I'll start listening. In the meantime, I'll do my part to save the environment. It's my duty!
I'm asthmatic and recently had my inhaler medication cost increase from $10 to $38ea because the old aerosal type was "harmful to the environment". I can afford it, but as I drive down the street in my hybrid car, next to several legal, black smoke emitting city buses, 18 wheelers, and pick up trucks I wonder how all the low income families, with breathing problems, are going to pay?
I am looking forward to the colonization of a ice free Antarctica. Think of all the untapped natural resources locked under all that ice.
If government seriously wants to reduce use of energy in the USA,
provide (and advertise availability of) tax credits for: a) ground-loop air conditioning systems for all residences; b) installation of infrared reflective films and passive ventilation systems in attics; c) replacement of incandescent, halogen, xenon, and flourescent light fixtures with LED lights. To enable citizens to afford high-mileage low emmission commuter cars, revamp state insurance programs and local property taxes (both of which currently make special-purpose vehicles uneconomical).
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