From my last course of biology related class, ecology, we were asked to do an one-thousand-word handwriting reflection on "the inconvenient truth." I was attending Dr. Wang’s OPD at the orthopedic department at the time, missed the lecture, the movie, and the notice. So as when I found out about the essay, the report was already due. Fortunately some guy sitting behind me just got me one of the DVD copy of the movie (thanks a lot pal), and I hurried it up, watched it at noon and finished it on time in the afternoon. Speaking of handwriting, I thought it would be faster for me to type it out on Comp first then copy it down. so now I’ve got the report handed in AND an electronic copy.
Here we go.
Former US president candidate Al Gore spoke of “the inconvenient truth,” the issue that he addressed as “too scary to deny at arm’s length.” Yes, that is exactly the problem we are facing right now. Global warming has become an undeniable truth, especially for the people in Taiwan. It is equally indisputable that it has caused substantial impact on our everyday lives. The question remains as, are we, as human, facing the problem openly and taking the essential steps to respond? Examine ourselves, how many aspects of our daily behaviors are environmental friendly? How many of us are carrying reusable chopsticks? What proportion of our documents is essential to be printed on non-recycled papers? How many of us are sweating under 24 oC air conditioned room because of our suits and ties?
I believe for most students, especially biology field related students, should not have been surprised by the film, at least not by its content. The phenomenons being publicly addressed were extensions of knowledge that we have been taught and warned repeatedly during lectures. The effects of CO2 concentration, the melting glacier, climate changes, weather changes, and diseases (remember the dengue fever last year?), are all the results of what we have done. We have all heard of them, and fully understood the theories behind.
However, the startling truth was still there. The global warming phenomenon appeared to be more urgent than what the scientists had foreseen several years ago. I could still remember a little more than a decade ago in 1995; the scientist warned the society that the average temperature is going to rise by 0.5 oC before year 2005. Ask anyone around in Taiwan and see if they would agree that every summer has become longer and hotter than the one before. 0.5 oC rise in every decade? Try every year. The most inconvenient part of the truth to me, is that it did not feel like Al Gore was speaking about the future; it felt like next year, next season, or even next month.
Apart from shocking the “skeptics” and “innocents” with his powerful presentation slides and numbers, I think Al Gore pointed out a very vital aspect which is probably more imperative than any others. Gore encouraged the people to make a change because it is a possible task that everyone can achieve. In the past, when we thought of global warming, the broken Ozone, or even the dioxin pollution, we rarely considered it as a part of our responsibilities. Yet as Gore put it, there are various aspects of our daily lives that can be modified, to ameliorate the disaster. He also showed how effective it can be when modifications sum up. Suddenly, saving the earth, though still urgent, is not so high-tech anymore. On the contrary, it becomes as simply (not easy) as recycling.
According to Gore, critical decisions such as choosing more efficient electricity appliances, end-use efficiency, taking transport efficiency, high-mileage standard automobiles, renewables, and CCS tech are going to reduce CO2 back to the same emission rate as 1970. Wow. So what does that tell us? In our everyday lives, opportunities to contribute to save the earth are abundant. Tasks as simple as recycling, using reusable chopsticks, drive/ride automobiles only when necessary, and setting the air condition at an acceptable range can improve our CO2 emission by a great deal. And did not we all hear this before?
Why did I bring up familiarity? Because we had been told of it before this film was directed. We just did not take enough steps to respond. While Gore is traveling around the world warning about the Global Warming, how many of us as the educated ones, have tried to persuade the people around us to buy a pair of reusable chopsticks? Or, as the film’s stated in the end, we did not have the courage to change. Maybe some of us have already taken a few steps; I have my set of utensils that I carry around with me, and I ride my bike to school everyday. But look around, or just imagine, how many pairs of thrown away disposable chopsticks made from living bamboo trees are there, each day, after each meal? Or how often do we see students carrying around jackets to classrooms during summertime because the air condition is too cold?
Take another daring step. We all acknowledge bigger, fancier, and faster car often is less energy efficient than the standard Honda Civic, because the extra weight and horsepower requires more fuel to thrust. We also have become to aware the unnecessity of dressing in suits, furs, and ties because it stresses the central air condition to generate more chilled-breath, increasing the emission of CO2 indirectly. Yet how many of us, are willing to give up so-called the better cars, or are willing to “dress down” for the benefit of environment? To push it further, are we willing to, for the right of the environment, vote for the politician with a different fundamental background?
Like the ending has stated, when we pray, we can pray for courage, the courage to change. There are no secrets, no shortcuts, and no savior, in the act to save the earth. There are only behaviors, actions, everyone in the global villagers, and yes, courage.
And yes, like the old saying, there is only one earth; the tiny, almost insignificant planet in the wide open universe, that has being bearing lives, for billions of years.