FOR AL GORE, people are like frogs jumping into a pot of boiling water, a metaphor the former American vice-president deliberately affirmed in his award-winning documentary.

“If a frog jumps into a pot of boiling water, it jumps out again because it senses the danger. But if the same frog jumps into a pot of lukewarm water that is slowly being boiled, it will just sit there until the temperature continues to rise and until it is rescued,” Gore said in his documentary about global warming.

A winner of the 2007 Academy Awards for Best Documentary and an official entry to the 2006 Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals, An Inconvenient Truth centers on Gore’s slide on global warming, which he showed in different countries such as China and United Kingdom. Using charts, graphs, pictures, and recent studies, Gore painted a picture of the looming threats of global warming.

Because of the documentary’s alarming environmental message, An Inconvenient Truth has been critically acclaimed for its efforts to promote ecological awareness among the public.

One of the threats of global warming according to Gore is the melting of glaciers due to the increase in the earth’s temperature, very evident in the melting of the snows of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Today, only the last of its glaciers could be found in the extinct volcano and its ice will be totally depleted within the decade, according to the documentary.

The documentary likewise presents the Keeling Curve, a graph that shows the steady increase in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1958. The curve shows how the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere experiences a cyclic variation according to planting season. In relation to this, Gore also presents specific findings on the carbon dioxide concentration in Antarctica, which has already reached its highest in 650,000 years last 2006. According to Gore, Antarctica’s glaciers, as well as Greenland’s are slowly breaking and melting apart, obliterating a chunk of each mass. If this happens, there will be a 20-meter rise in sea level worldwide.

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Contrary views

But last June, CNN reported that a study conducted by Philip Mote of the University of Washington in the US and Georg Kaser of the University of Innsbruck in Austria published in the July-August 2007 edition of American Science magazine, showed that the depletion of the Mt. Kilimanjaro ice had been occurring for two decades before conclusive evidence on global warming was available.

Contrary to Gore’s 20-meter estimate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by the World Meteorological Association and the United Nations Environment Programme, estimated that, as a result of ice melting and seawater expansion due to ocean warming, the ocean levels would rise from 0.1 to only 0.9 meters between 1990 and 2100.

The global warning

Dr. Arlen Ancheta of the UST Social Research Center agrees with Gore’s statements. According to Ancheta, Gore was right in illustrating some of the repercussions of global warming.

According to Ancheta, despite the film’s accuracy in his illustrations, the severity of its effects, as presented in the film, is quite contestable. She also said that the data used in Gore’s slide shows are from secondary sources, such as studies, as opposed to the more reliable primary sources, or the original documents pertaining to the subject.

Ancheta says that because most of Gore’s arguments are based on computer simulations, they may encounter problems in accuracy. “Many predictions made by scientists are based on simulation, on computer models so predictions are mostly inaccurate,” she said.

However, Ancheta also stressed there are still a lot of factors to consider before coming up with a critique of the documentary, such as Gore and his identity, credibility, target audience, and manner of presentation.

Better opportunities

“We all know that Al Gore is a politician in the United States. We do not really know if he had formal environmental science education or who his target audience is, because the documentary has interwoven political undertones in it,” she said.

But according to Ancheta, at the end of the day, it all boils down to the message Gore is trying to convey, which is to change one’s lifestyle, to avoid wasteful consumption, and to minimize the use of global warming catalysts.


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