Illustration by Carla T. GamalindaTHE BEARER of the inconvenient truth was in Manila and Albert Arnold “Al” Gore wanted Filipinos to act with resolve. Now.

The Nobel laureate and former United States vice president challenged Filipinos to face the inconvenient truth about the harmful effects of climate change in his two-hour forum titled “Face the Inconvenient Truth: Al Gore Live in Manila” held at SMX Convention Center, Pasay City last June 8.

“There is no excuse for us not to react. There have been many changes [in Earth] and people can see the reality,” he said.

Gore’s presentation discussed the indicators of climate change such as warmer ocean temperature which causes frequent visit of storms, hurricanes and typhoons, the unusual rise and fall of temperature, and the interchanging cycle of El Niño and La Niña.

Floods

Climate change, according to Gore, is characterized by an unusual rise and fall of temperature from time to time.

Widespread diseases, extinction of species, and the spread of vectors such as fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks, are just some of the evident effects of the phenomenon.

During his talk, Gore explained that planets Earth and Venus both have ‘shells’ of atmosphere to protect it from the entry of solar light waves. But compared to Venus, the Earth has a thinner layer of atmosphere that makes it difficult to control the infrared rays inside it.

Thickened by pollution, a huge amount of infrared radiation and greenhouse gases is trapped inside the atmosphere, which causes the “greenhouse effect”.

“There was really a medieval warming after all,” Gore said, pertaining to high temperature points in his chart.

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He said that temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere are equally dependent with each other. When CO2 levels increase, the temperature also rises.

According to Gore, a record of the world’s total annual rainfall shows a tremendous increase in levels all over the world. A boost in flood levels among South American and Asian countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, India, China, Bangladesh, and the Philippines has been evident for the past ten years.

Moral issue

Addressing his concerns on global warming to the Filipino people, Gore believes that today’s actions would greatly affect the future.

“It [global warming] is a moral issue because decisions made by the present generation will have such a profound effect on future generations,” Gore said.

He enumerated three factors of collision between the human civilization and the Earth: population explosion, science and technology revolution, and people’s way of thinking.

Ballooning populations, according to Gore, has a negative impact on our ability to help our environment. The population inflation rate among third world countries like the Philippines is higher compared to developed countries. At present, the country ranks 12th in the countries with high population in Asia, with three babies born every minute.

“Population explosion puts pressure to food demand, water demand, and other vulnerable natural resources,” he said, emphasizing that higher demand would just lead to abuse of resources.

He added that science and technology revolution would abruptly change the usual weather patterns of the Earth. Breaking from the traditional ways to new ones, according to Gore, will just bring ‘unpredictable’ consequences.

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“With ‘old habits’ and ‘old technology’, we will have predictable consequences, but with new technology combined to our old habits, consequences are dramatically altered,” he said.

Gore also considers “way of thinking” as most important.

“People are like frogs on a pot of boiling water. When the frog jumps into it, immediately jumps out after feeling the heat. But when a frog is put inside a pot of slow-warming water, it stays there until it is rescued,” Gore said.

Defending himself from critics, Gore explained the misconceptions which led queries to his campaign against climate change. Together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Gore addressed errors from his previous documentary. He argued that a massive scientific research was done on every article on the documentary.

However, other researchers and scientists claim that global warming is a theory rather than a fact.

Fighting climate change

For Gore, the best way to save the planet from climate change was to replace current energy sources by alternative and Earth-friendly ones such as wind power, solar energy, and geothermal energy.

He acknowledged the Filipinos’ continuing efforts to save energy by prompting the use of biofuel and electric jeepneys.

“We can do great things in this world,” he said. “The choice is between the hard right and the easy wrong.”

Taking part in the lecture is broadcast journalist Cheche Lazaro who asked Al Gore regarding his thoughts about the Philippines’ situation on its environment. In response, Gore said that the Philippines was now decreasing its population rate by 21% per family. From an average rate of seven children in one family two years ago, it was reduced to five to six this year.

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When asked about the possibility of the Philippines to experience a climate change, Gore posed the challenge to the country’s top official.

“The challenges would be on the president,” he said. “I believe that the president can lead the nation in facing the inconvenient truth about global warming.” Camille Anne M. Arcilla

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