Reviewed by L.D.Y.
Trade, 328 pages, 2006
Reason for Reading: I didn’t realize there was a book to go along with Gore’s movie of the same name until he was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Synopsis: Global warming: proof that it exists; proof that we’re seeing the damage now and not just in future generations; and hope that something can be done. Gore based this book on lectures he’s been giving steadily over the past six years, and presents everything in quick snippets of photos, graphs, and accompanying explanations of what they mean to the planet, and to us.
Why you should read this book: Gore’s plea for the state of our planet comes across best in all of the pictures, rather than his words. It’s hard to ignore images of a nearly snowless Mount Kilimanjaro, vanished glaciers, and boats abandoned where rivers turned to deserts. Apart from the beauty of what we’d be losing, there are far more practical considerations: rising sea levels, for example, would condemn hundreds of millions of people to either death or displacement; crop failure; disease, and a chain of other consequences. Gore makes it clear that we’ve got the tools to stop global warming if politicians can be unearthed from oil companies’ pockets; so let’s get on it, on both a national and a personal level.
Why you should avoid this book: The man loves his graphs, which is when the book feels like it was compiled from a Power Point presentation. And all of the personal references (just look for the long, drawn-out bits) and family photos feel a bit too, ‘I’m probably not running for President again, but juuust in case…’ The writing in Tim Flannery’s book, The Weather Makers, is a lot more detailed if you’d like to learn more than superficial background on the topic – in fact, I kind of wish they’d combined the two books, using Flannery’s words and Gore’s collection of pictures, which would have presented an even stronger case for global warming.
Some experiences are so intense while they are happening that time seems to stop altogether. When it begins again and our lives resume their normal course, these intense experiences remain vivid, refusing to stay in the past, remaining always and forever with us.
According to scientists, [the doubling of CO2] will lead, among other things, to a loss in soil moisture of up to 35% in vast growing areas of our country. And of course, drier soils mean drier vegetables, less productive agriculture, and more fires. Moreover, scientists are now telling us that if we do not act quickly to contain global warming pollution, we will soon barrel right through a doubling of CO2 and move toward a quadrupling, in which case, scientists tell us, most of the United States would lose up to 60% of its soil moisture.
How do we debate something as cataclysmic as this in the traditional framework of our political dialogue?
Our new technologies, combined with our numbers, have made us, collectively, a force of nature.
And those with the most technology have the greatest moral obligation to use it wisely.
Also recommended: The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery; Harvest for Hope by Jane Goodall.
Also by this author: The Assault on Reason; Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit.
Author’s website: climatecrisis.net
Fun tidbit: Not surprisingly, Gore is from America, one of two nations that have not ratified the Kyoto Treaty. Tim Flannery, author of another best-selling book of 2006 on global warming, The Weather Makers, is from the other country that isn’t on board, Australia.
Would I read more by this author? It’s not likely – people are already doing what he’s doing, but better.
Â© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007