Ignore the messenger

As documented last week in our cover story, “Al Gore’s inconvenient truth” (RN&R, June 22), the documentary An Inconvenient Truth—currently playing at Reno’s Riverside Theatres—provides important information about global warming. The movie should not be dismissed because of the former vice president’s political stances and presumed ambitions.As citizens of the most powerful and the most atmosphere-polluting nation, Americans can’t avoid this topic, which has such profound implications for the world.

Gore’s movie shows that global temperatures have increased dramatically. The movie also shows that no peer-reviewed scientific journals have disputed this fact. It also illustrates how increased temperatures have amplified the frequency and intensity of storms around the world and how the rising sea level has affected nations.

Gore claims the media is one reason the public is confused about global warming. In an attempt to present both sides of an “argument,” the media has distorted the news to make it seem as though there is a fierce debate among scientists as to global warming’s existence.

News media constantly spew inaccurate information regarding the science behind global warming. They are confused by conflicting reports, and some have a deep-seated fear of anything tagged “environmental.” For some outlets, “environmental” invokes images of drug-addled hippies squandering tax dollars.

Another reason Gore gives for the confusion about global warming is deliberate dissemination of false information by certain industries. For example, one recent article on America Online was trying to give the downsides of owning fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles. It said that they have higher depreciation and sticker prices. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to guess who might benefit if people think that hybrids will hurt them in the wallet. Perhaps car companies that don’t manufacture hybrids?

People need to realize that the environment and economics go hand in hand. When balanced, they can provide some great financial and environmental rewards. Gore, for example, is chairman of Generation Investment Management LLP, a firm that invests primarily in environmentally conscious businesses. It’s an apparent trend: The May-June issue of Utne magazine had a feature article on the “new capitalists” who make profits while improving the world. Even retail giants like Wal-Mart have started to make positive changes and plans to increase truck fleet fuel efficiency and lower energy use in stores.

Al Gore may not be the best person to deliver the message. There will always be those who are put off by his politics, and who distrust what he says because they distrust his motives and believe he may run for president again.

Ignore the messenger, if you will. Still, it’s important not to ignore the key message that the film conveys: Global warming is real and will affect everyone on the planet.