Read for your Life!
by John Burgeson, www.burgy.50megs.com
"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996).
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, by Al Gore. New York, NY: Rodale, 2006. 321 pages, Softcover; $21.95. ISBN 1-59486-567-1.
Last month, my friend Eric Heil reviewed Diamond's book, COLLAPSE. My review this month builds upon Eric's excellent essay.
Whatever one's political leanings, it is clear that Al Gore, the Democratic 2000 presidential candidate, is passionate about the causes he believes in. One of these is the world problem of Global Warming. Following the release of his documentary movie of the same name, this book has appeared to grace the coffee tables in our land. Partisan comments are few. Gore's thesis is fourfold: (1) Global Warming is real, (2) Global Warming is a potential catastrophe to human civilization, (3) we CAN do something about it if we act both quickly and responsibly and (4) we are all in this together; it is not (or should not be) a political debate.
Everyone has read arguments that Global Warming is not real -- that scientists are engaging in a "The Sky is Falling" scam. This much you can take to the bank. CLAIMS 1, 2 AND 3 ARE ESTABLISHED. In a recent survey of over 2000 peer reviewed scientific papers on global warming, the number which argued against these three claims was zero. None. Nada. Zip. Yes, there are contrarians; one can find them easily with an Internet Google search. There are also those who argue for a 6,000 year old earth, sometimes with impressive "science talk.". And there are still purveyors of snake oil, I suppose. Read them for giggles; believe them at your peril.
This book is meant for a non-scientific audience, there are very few numbers or graphs. It is a "pretty" book, including color illustrations and many photographs, printed on thick glossy color paper. unfortunately, it is poorly bound (reading the text on inside margins is difficult without spine-breaking). This publishing choice has led to a book which is too heavy to make reading comfortable, but it has also allowed many substantial illustrations, drawings and maps. The melting glacier pictures are particularly impressive. I think the younger set will appreciate the photography (pictures still tell 1000 words).
Mr. Gore argues forcefully and reasonably throughout the book for his claims. In spite of its printing problems, I highly recommend it, even to scientists, for it shows pictorially just what all the fuss is about.
John W. Burgeson, Mancos, Colorado, March, 2007