Responding with Passion to the Call to Action
By Kate Parrot
I saw Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth on its opening night in a packed theater house. I’ve heard stories of people giving applause at the end of films, but I’d never seen it for myself. It happened at the end of Gore’s film—waves and waves of applause as people responded to one man’s dedication to do something about global warming.
The audience was riveted and unusually quiet during the film. I sat with a group of friends, and we kept looking at each other with a mixture of horror and despair at what we were hearing. I’ve studied climate change for many years in my work in the environmental field. But Gore’s presentation, with its stunning visual images, created an emotional connection to the issue like I’d never experienced. The scene that impacted me the most was the chart of carbon dioxide levels and the earth’s temperature, created from ice core data that allowed scientists to build a historical picture of the earth’s climate stretching back thousands of years. As the animated squiggly lines grew from left to right across the screen, it was plain to see that the earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels do affect global temperatures. The peaks and valleys in carbon dioxide mirrored the peaks and valleys in temperature with startling accuracy.
What was deeply disturbing, though, was Gore’s humorous, but deadly serious mock act as he followed the projected carbon dioxide levels out to 2100. Gore climbed on an elevator lift to accompany the growing graph line representing carbon dioxide as it rose at an exponential rate. The line ended at the year 2100 at a stratospheric height above the current levels of CO2, and far above the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide the earth has ever seen. We can only guess at the consequences for life on the planet.
Gore is portrayed in the film much differently than the man we saw on the campaign trail in 2000. He is thoughtful, warm, open, and most of all passionate. I found myself wishing we’d seen more of this Al Gore when he was running for President. If we had, the political situation in our country might look very different today.
But perhaps it’s not a bad thing that Gore didn’t win the presidency. If he had, he probably wouldn’t have made this film. He wouldn’t have touched so many people across the world with his passionate dedication to influence the debate on climate change. That passion and commitment impressed me more than anything else. As Gore points out, we already have the technology to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We’re not stalled out for lack of technical solutions. What we face is a social and political challenge. And Gore frames climate change not only in social, political, or even environmental terms, but also as a moral challenge. We have an ethical and moral obligation to future generations, he says, to take action now.
If we looked deeply into what we can do to address climate change, and other social and environmental challenges, we might discover, as Gore did, a vision and passion to do something about them. Moreover, if we really look hard, we might discover that we must do something; we are compelled; we cannot help ourselves when we get in touch with this inspired call to action.
I agreed to be on the board of RainforestMaker because I see in the founder, Jeffrey Glassman, the same inspired activism as I see in Al Gore. I’ve known Jeff for several years, and he brings a great urgency and dedication to whatever he does. To see him come alive with the possibility of doing something for the trees and the forests he cares for so deeply is a great joy. His dedication, like Al Gore’s, inspires those around him. More than technical solutions and scientific facts, we now need conscious intention and passionate action to turn the tide of environmental destruction. It is that uniquely human action-intention of love (there is no other word for it) that will enable us to leap out of an old paradigm and into the new for the sake of each other and for generations to come.