Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Even More Inconvenient Truths

Even More Inconvenient Truths

 By John Taylor; 12 December, 2006

A little bit of several things today. First, some tidbits transcribed from the film, An Inconvenient Truth. The following was requested by the esteemed Betty Frost. It is played in playful letters during the closing credits, and since it reads lyrically, I will call it here the closing credits poem.

Closing Credits Poem

Are you ready to change the way you live?
The climate crisis can be solved.
Here is how to start.
Go to www.climatecrisis.net
You can reduce your carbon emissions.
In fact you can even reduce your carbon emissions to zero.
Buy energy efficient appliances and light bulbs.
Change your thermostat (and use clock thermostats) to reduce energy for heating and cooling.
Weatherize your house, increase insulation and get an energy audit.
If you can, buy a hybrid car.
When you can, walk or ride a bicycle.
Where you can, use light rail and mass transit.
Tell your parents not to ruin the world you will live in.
If you are a parent, join with your children, save the world they will live in.
Switch to renewable sources of energy.
Call your power company to see if they offer green energy.
If they do not, ask them why not.
Vote for leaders who pledge to solve the crisis.
Write to congress,
If they do not listen, run for congress.
Plant trees,
Lots of trees,
Speak up in your community.
Call radio shows and write newspapers.
Insist that America freeze CO2 emissions.
And join international efforts to stop global warming.
Reduce our dependence on foreign oil;
Help farmers grow alcohol fuels.
Raise fuel economy standards;
Require lower emissions from automobiles.
If you believe in prayer, pray that people will find
The strength to change.
In the words of the old African proverb,
When you pray, move your feet.
Encourage everyone you know to see this movie.
Learn as much as you can about the climate crisis.
Then put your knowledge into action.

In the update to his slide presentation a year after the documentary was made (this is only available in the DVD's extra features section) Gore offers the following quote to do with the population explosion, from Julius K. Nyerere, of Nigeria:

"The greatest contraceptive one can have in the developing world is the knowledge that your children will live."

For those who like the featured song in the film, it is called "I need to wake up," by Melissa Etheridge. The producers were amazed that she actually worked the title of the film, "An Inconvenient Truth," into her lyrics. At one crucial point in the film Gore quotes Mark Twain,

"What gets us into trouble is not what we do not know but what we do know that just ain't so."

Al Gore compares himself and the climate crisis to Winston Churchill and the looming Nazi threat in the 1930's. The comparison is tempting, and I do not think that too many viewers go out of the cinema thinking that Gore is being at all megalomaniacal. The climate crisis is a very serious threat, as was Hitler. On November 12, 1936, Churchill said:

"The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences."

The commentary explains that they considered as a candidate for title to the film: "A Period of Consequences," based on the above. I like that title better, myself. Anyway, I would add something else Churchill said in 1936, "Weakness is not treason, though it may be equally disastrous." Pretty much applies to everybody with power in this age of consequences. He actually said that about the dithering of the French after Hitler seized the Rhineland (it is now known that if the French had made the slightest resistance, the military high command were all ready to oust Hitler then and there). Interestingly, a close friend of Churchill's, Wigram, saw very clearly what was coming and all but died of a broken heart. Here is how Churchill describes his frightening demise in his history of the war.


"The British and French submission to the violations of the Treaties of Versailles and Locarno, involved in Hitler's seizure of the Rhineland, was a mortal blow to Wigram.” After the French Delegation had left," wrote his wife to me, "Ralph came back, and sat down in a corner of the room where he had never sat before, and said to me, 'War is now inevitable, and it will be the most terrible war there has ever been. I don't think I shall see it, but you will. Wait now for bombs on this little house (The house was in fact bombed later). I was frightened at his words, and he went on, 'All my work these many years has been no use. I am a failure. I have failed to make the people here realise what is at stake. I am not strong enough, I suppose. I have not been able to make them understand. Winston has always, always understood, and he is strong and will go on to the end.'"

My friend never seemed to recover from this shock. He took it too much to heart. After all, one can always go on doing what one believes to be his duty, and running ever greater risks till knocked out. Wigram's profound comprehension reacted on his sensitive nature unduly. His untimely death in December, 1936, was an irreparable loss to the Foreign Office, and played its part in the miserable decline of our fortunes.

When Hitler met his generals after the successful reoccupation of the Rhineland, he was able to confront them with the falsity of their fears and prove to them how superior his judgment or "intuition" was to that of ordinary military men. The generals bowed. As good Germans they were glad to see their country gaining ground so rapidly in Europe and its former adversaries so divided and tame. Undoubtedly Hitler's prestige and authority in the supreme circle of German power was sufficiently enhanced by this episode to encourage and enable him to march forward to greater tests. To the world he said:

"All Germany's territorial ambitions have now been satisfied."

France was thrown into incoherency amid which fear of war, and relief that it had been avoided, predominated. The simple English were taught by their simple press to comfort themselves with the reflection: "After all, the Germans are only going back to their own country. How should we feel if we had been kept out of, say, Yorkshire for ten or fifteen years?" No one stopped to note that the detrainment points from which the German Army could invade France had been advanced by one hundred miles. No one worried about the proof given to all the Powers of the Little Entente and to Europe that France would not fight, and that England would hold her back even if she would. This episode confirmed Hitler's power over the Reich, and stultified, in a manner ignominious and slurring upon their patriotism, the generals who had hitherto sought to restrain him.

from: The Gathering Storm, Winston S. Churchill, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1948, pp. 198-199


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