Friday, 12 October 2007

An Inconvenient Possibility?

This week saw Al Gore’s controversial, Oscar-winning documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ making headlines once more. This time it was all to do with a High Court Ruling on the use of the film in British schools. A school governor had brought the case to court amid concerns that the film was being distributed and viewed without explanatory material necessary to give a balanced view on the issue of climate change.

The film was described as an ‘alarmist shockumentary’. The judge, who ruled that the film may continue to be shown in schools providing that the required guidance notes, noted a number of alleged exaggerations and errors in Gore’s film mostly with regard to the wording and time scales used and the presentation of hypothesis as scientific fact.

Now an admission; I’m one of those people who has an opinion without having seen the film. I do have a copy in the house. It is one of a number of ‘should-see’ films on a shelf gathering unhealthy amounts of dust. I should also probably mention that I am pretty much the first person to get annoyed when others start ranting away on their pet-subjects without having all their facts straight. But nevertheless I have decided that this being my blog, I am perfectly entitled to hold double standards within its pages! And so…

It’s pretty clear to me that there is a decent amount of truth and scientific proof in most of Mr. Gore’s arguments. There has been concern over CO2 levels for years and the effects it could be having on the environment. Yes, the film was probably a little one sided but surely that was the point? Numerous scientific documentaries have been made on the subject with few results. A ‘shockumentary’ is just what the world needed; a kick up the backside to get both governments and consumers to make changes to their policies and lifestyles. Whether or not Gore is correct and greenhouse gases are fully to blame for global warming is irrelevant. There is enough evidence that they are part of the problem. Ever heard of Pascal’s wager? Summarised, it reads as follows: "If God does not exist, the Atheist loses little by believing in him and gains little by not believing. If God does exist, the Atheist gains eternal life by believing and loses an infinite good by not believing." Now I’m not going to get into the philosophical and religious implications of this statement. I merely want to apply the theory to An Inconvenient Truth.

If Gore is wrong, the world loses little by both listening to him and making changes accordingly, and by not listening to him. If Gore is right, the world gains a huge amount by listening to him and loses greatly by ignoring him. Weighing these two options up, the obvious conclusion is surely that it is a great deal safer to listen to and act on Gore’s (and much of the scientific community’s) words than to ignore it.

Even if you don’t hold with that, take pity on the poor chap. There aren’t many men in the world to win the popular vote in an election but ultimately lose out to a monkey in a suit.

No comments: