Remember Al Gore? He was vice-president to Clinton before 2000, then he lost the presidential election to George W. Bush in 2000. Recently, you may have heard of him in the news, with the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth".
We watched it on the plane on the way back from New York last week, and it was gripping. Since losing the election to Bush, Al Gore has gone on a crusade to explain the facts of global warming, and to shake up public inertia about it, particularly in the US. In the documentary, he explains the issues in simple terms and highlights why we need to do something about it now, if we want our children (or nieces and nephews) to have a future on this planet.
He is a very good speaker and the facts and figures he presents are scary - a tale of melting ice caps ("The Arctic Ocean could be ice free in summer by 2050"), drought, heat waves, and extinction. He also exposes the political manipulations that have cast doubts over the scientific reality of global warming. When you see all these facts and figures, it's hard to keep your head buried in the sand.
But the most important thing to me was how he highlighted that we can all make changes in our lives to impact things positively. It's not just for heads of states to implement Kyoto agreements or not. It's up to each one of us to makes changes, and reduce how much CO2 we produce.
One small thing we can do, for instance, is to unplug our mobile phone chargers from the socket when we're not charging our phones. Here is a bit from his website: "Even when turned off, things like hairdryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!"
Or we can walk down to the corner shop rather than take the car. Or turn off the lights when we leave a room. Wear a cardigan around the house rather than just a tee-shirt, with the heat on full ...
Brendan and I felt so strongly about this after watching the movie that we have started taking some of the recommended actions. With a house full of computers and electronic devices, we've got quite a bit we can do. I calculated my "personal impact", and found to my horror that I was well above the average in terms of CO2 production - and that's the American average!
Check out www.climatecrisis.net for more information and ideas about what you can do.