You Think It’s Bad? It’s Worse.

By Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor) | September 18, 2006 6:00 pm

On Friday I attended a climate change symposium organized by the New York Botanical Garden and conservation biologist Thomas Lovejoy. The message of the program, it seemed to me, was that even those already convinced to the point of horrification that global warming will soon destroy our planet (if nothing changes) do not understand the severity of the problem. Tragedy is on the horizon, and it will rock our world in a way that hominids have never had to reckon with before.

Scientists presented some of the latest evidence of global warming (obviously), and a panel answered questions from the audience, most of which went something like, “What in God’s name can we do?” Journalist Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, answered: “The work of the scientists is done, much of it done seven or eight or nine years ago. We know more than enough to understand what we need to be doing. The mobilization of people to demand change is what we need.” (I was scribbling this down, so the quote may be inexact.)

Al Gore was the keynote speaker, and the angle of his speech was largely a psychological one. He implied that we (citizens of Earth) need a psychic overhaul to really grapple with the severity of our future with global warming, understand that we are addicted to our destructive behaviors, and do something radical to change the course of history. The solution to the problem of global warming, he said, “is at the outer boundary of what we are capable of doing, but it is within our capacity.” He mentioned that he is donating 100% of the revenues of his current book and movie An Inconvenient Truth to the newly formed Alliance for Climate Protection, an organization keen on propaganda that plans to run television commercials alerting the public to the problems of global warming. I think propaganda for the good is an underutilized tool and am happy to hear it.

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