An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It

An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It

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by Al Gore, Beau Bridges, Cynthia Nixon, Blair Underwood
     
 

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The climate crisis may at times appear to be happening slowly, but in fact it is happening very quickly — and has become a true planetary emergency. The Chinese expression for crisis consists of two characters. The first is a symbol for danger; the second is a symbol for opportunity. In order to face down the danger that is stalking the planet and move through

Overview

The climate crisis may at times appear to be happening slowly, but in fact it is happening very quickly — and has become a true planetary emergency. The Chinese expression for crisis consists of two characters. The first is a symbol for danger; the second is a symbol for opportunity. In order to face down the danger that is stalking the planet and move through it, listeners first have to recognize that they are facing a crisis. So why is it that public leaders seem not to hear such clarion warnings? Are they resisting the truth because they know that the moment they acknowledge it, they will face a moral imperative to act? Is it simply more convenient to ignore the warnings?

Perhaps, but inconvenient truths do not go away just because they are not seen. Indeed, when they are not responded to, their significance doesn't diminish; it grows.

—Al Gore

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“New York Times - May 23, 2006
Books of The Times | 'An Inconvenient Truth'
Al Gore Revisits Global Warming, With Passionate Warnings and Pictures
By MICHIKO KAKUTANI
Lately, global warming seems to be tiptoeing toward a tipping point in the public consciousness. There has been broad agreement over the fundamentals of global warming in mainstream scientific circles for some time now. And despite efforts by the Bush administration to shrug it off as an incremental threat best dealt with through voluntary emissions controls and technological innovation, the issue has been making inroads in the collective imagination, spurred by new scientific reports pointing to rising temperatures around the world and melting ice fields in Greenland and Antarctica. A year ago, the National Academy of Sciences joined similar groups from other countries in calling for prompt action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A Time magazine cover story in April declared that "the climate is crashing and global warming is to blame," noting that a new Time/ABC News/Stanford University poll showed that 87 percent of respondents believe the government should encourage or require a lowering of power-plant emissions. That same month, a U.S. News & World Report article noted that dozens of evangelical leaders had called for federal legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and that "a growing number of investors are pushing for change from the business community" as well. And even Hollywood movies like the kiddie cartoon "Ice Age: The Meltdown" and the much sillier disaster epic "The Day After Tomorrow" take climate change as a narrative premise.

Enter "or rather, re-enter" Al Gore, former vice president, former Democratic candidate for president and longtime champion of the environment, who helped to organize the first Congressional hearings on global warming several decades ago.

Fourteen years ago, during the 1992 campaign, the current president's father, George Herbert Walker Bush, dismissed Mr. Gore as "Ozone Man" -- if the Clinton-Gore ticket were elected, he suggested, "we'll be up to our neck in owls and out of work for every American" -- but with the emerging consensus on global warming today, Mr. Gore's passionate warnings about climate change seem increasingly prescient. He has revived the slide presentation about global warming that he first began giving in 1990 and taken that slide show on the road, and he has now turned that presentation into a book and a documentary film, both called "An Inconvenient Truth." The movie (which opens in New York and Los Angeles on Wednesday) shows a focused and accessible Gore "a funnier, more relaxed and sympathetic character" than he was as a candidate, said The Observer, the British newspaper " and has revived talk in some circles of another possible Gore run for the White House.

As for the book, its roots as a slide show are very much in evidence. It does not pretend to grapple with climate change with the sort of minute detail and analysis displayed by three books on the subject that came out earlier this spring ("The Winds of Change" by Eugene Linden, "The Weather Makers" by Tim Flannery and "Field Notes From a Catastrophe" by Elizabeth Kolbert), and yet as a user-friendly introduction to global warming and a succinct summary of many of the central arguments laid out in those other volumes, "An Inconvenient Truth" is lucid, harrowing and bluntly effective.

Like Mr. Gore's 1992 book "Earth in the Balance," this volume displays an earnest, teacherly tone, but it's largely free of the New Age psychobabble and A-student grandiosity that rumbled through that earlier book. The author's wonky fascination with policy minutiae has been tamed in these pages, and his love of charts and graphs has been put to good use. Whereas the charts in "Earth in the Balance" tended to make the reader's eyes glaze over, the ones here clearly illustrate the human-caused rise in carbon dioxide levels in recent years, the simultaneous rise in Northern Hemisphere temperatures and the correlation between the two. Mr. Gore points out that 20 of the 21 hottest years measured "have occurred within the last 25 years," adding that the hottest year yet was 2005" a year in which "more than 200 cities and towns" in the Western United States set all-time heat records.

As for the volume's copious photos, they too serve to underscore important points. We see Mount Kilimanjaro in the process of losing its famous snows over three and a half decades, and Glacier National Park its glaciers in a similar period of time. There are satellite images of an ice shelf in Antarctica (previously thought to be stable for another 100 years) breaking up within the astonishing period of 35 days, and photos that show a healthy, Kodachrome-bright coral reef, juxtaposed with photos of a dying coral reef that has been bleached by hotter ocean waters.

Pausing now and then to offer personal asides, Mr. Gore methodically lays out the probable consequences of rising temperatures: powerful and more destructive hurricanes fueled by warmer ocean waters (2005, the year of Katrina, was not just a record year for hurricanes but also saw unusual flooding in places like Europe and China); increased soil moisture evaporation, which means drier land, less productive agriculture and more fires; and melting ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, which would lead to rising ocean levels, which in turn would endanger low-lying regions of the world from southern Florida to large portions of the Netherlands.

Mr. Gore does a cogent job of explaining how global warming can disrupt delicate ecological balances, resulting in the spread of pests (like the pine beetle, whose migration used to be slowed by colder winters), increases in the range of disease vectors (including mosquitoes, ticks and fleas), and the extinction of a growing number of species.

Already, he claims, a study shows that "polar bears have been drowning in significant numbers" as melting Arctic ice forces them to swim longer and longer distances, while other studies indicate that the population of Emperor penguins "has declined by an estimated 70 percent over the past 50 years."

The book contains some oversimplifications. While Mr. Gore observes that the United States is currently responsible for more greenhouse gas pollution than South America, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, Japan and Asia combined, he underplays the daunting increase in emissions that a rapidly growing China will produce in the next several decades. And in an effort to communicate the message that something can still be done about global warming, he resorts, in the book's closing pages, to some corny invocations of America's can-do, put-a-man-on-the-moon spirit.

For the most part, however, Mr. Gore's stripped-down narrative emphasizes facts over emotion, common sense over portentous predictions" an approach that proves considerably more persuasive than the more alarmist one assumed, say, by Tim Flannery in "The Weather Makers." Mr. Gore shows why environmental health and a healthy economy do not constitute mutually exclusive choices, and he enumerates practical steps that can be taken to reduce carbon emissions to a point below 1970's levels.

Mr. Gore, who once wrote an introduction to an edition of Rachel Carson's classic "Silent Spring" (the 1962 book that not only alerted readers to the dangers of pesticides, but is also credited with spurring the modern environmental movement), isn't a scientist like Carson and doesn't possess her literary gifts; he writes, rather, as a popularizer of other people's research and ideas. But in this multimedia day of shorter attention spans and high-profile authors, "An Inconvenient Truth" (the book and the movie) could play a similar role in galvanizing public opinion about a real and present danger. It could goad the public into reading more scholarly books on the subject, and it might even push awareness of global warming to a real tipping point-and beyond.” —MICHIKO KAKUTANI, New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743572026
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date:
05/13/2008
Edition description:
Abridged, 3 CDs, 3 hours
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 10.92(h) x 1.06(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Blair Underwood is an author and award-winning actor, director, and producer. He lives in Los Angeles, California. Visit his website at www.BlairUnderwood.com

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An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
KPN More than 1 year ago
This book is well organized, has wonderful photography and presents the information in a clear and concise manner. The general public would do well to read this book and appreciate the world's need to change its perception of what is happening to the environment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think its interesting that all the reviews that give this book 1 star came from reviewers that talk about Al Gore as a politician, instead of a person who wrote a book about the environment. How easy it is to write a critical review instead of taking any action. We're ALL living on the same singular planet, folks. You either want to help it or not.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent - do buy this book! I loved it. While you are here, check out Trash Talk (ISBN#141372518X) which helps individuals make a real and measureable difference in their communities and in the world... simply through better waste and resource management!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, by the former U.S. Vice President, serves or should serve, as a 'wake up' call to all of the inhabitants of this (our only, so far) planet. Mr. Gore gives many instances of how humanity's wasteful, and dangerous, consumption of fossil based fuels, primarily oil, have contributed to 'green house' gases which have let global warming develop at an alarming rate. It's easy for Conservatives to dismiss this a 'tree hugging' and 'liberal nonsense'. They are endangering all of us with such as dismissive view. It is not too late to save our planet, if we would heed Mr. Gore's words. Let's hope more of us are listening.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very compelling, but the video is better. The current administration has set this nation back at least 50 years, and its environmental policies are actually inimical to the general welfare. We really must get away from red or blue and start doing the right thing. Addressing our impact on the environment is not a political issue, it is a moral one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book even if you know nothing about the climate whatsoever. Provides excellent background knowledge and all counter arguments i thought of have been discussed by the end of the book(not a scientist so i dont know everything about the subject, just a few tidbits). A must read book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is highly educational and very accessible, even if you don't know much of anything about climate change before you read it. I found it very compelling, because Gore makes a very strong case for all of us to stop viewing the global warming crisis in terms of politics. It is indeed an 'inconvenient truth' that no matter how much power or money a person has, it's utterly meaningless if the planet is dying. You will really see the big picture if you read this book. The strongest example is in the fact that Gore only discusses the political aspect of global warming in the context of the crisis as a whole. This is not a politically motivated book, and that is the whole point in my opinion. Let's just get past this red-vs.-blue thing and focus on what matters, the earth that sustains us and that we must work harder to sustain.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think it was an outstanding movie although I have not yet read the book. People should act now on what you are trying to persue. Although I am only 13 years old (I want to start to help out the enviornment at a young age.)I have a great impact on things like this. We should all be aware of these disasters that are happening in the world and help now. Thank you Al for making a difference in me and in many others out their. ( can't wait to read the book!)
Guest More than 1 year ago
All those doubters who believe global warming to be a hoax should take careful note: the information in this book systematically shows that our best science in the present era is indisputable. Global Climate Change as accelerated by human fossil fuel use IS occuring. Mr. Gore does a fantastic job of presenting evidence that anyone can relate to. Someone unfamilliar with the topic might not understand 600,000 years of ice core data, but they can understand that birds are migrating differently, species are cropping up where they shouldn't be, and wild weather disasters are more common. This book is not going to teach a seasoned environmentalist much, but the stunning clarity of the writing and the presentation of the facts as such is enough to prompt a thorough reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
No matter what your politics the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence points to the fact that we, as a species, are changing our environment in a way which is already detrimental to our wellbeing and that of future generations. We do have the ability to turn this process around, but first we have to accept the reality of our impact and then we have to CARE... if not for our own wellbeing then for that of our children - who will inherent our legacy. We simply must realize that we cannot continue to see ourselves as somehow seperated from the earth system, somehow immune to all of the toxins that we continue spill onto the surface and into the atomsphere of what is the only home that God gave us to experience as human beings. We simply must take seriously our responsibility as stewards of the planet. If we continue to function under this delusion of psychological disconnect - or lack of responsibility - we will nonetheless be held accountable. It is as simple as cause and effect. Truly everything and everyone is subject to the laws of cause and effect. Gore's message isn't about politics. Democrats and Republicans alike, we are all down stream from somebody and we are all upstream from somebody. We are in this together.
Guest More than 1 year ago
[Note: Not reviewing the man here, just the book, and I urge other reviewers to do the same - as tempting as it is, this is not a political forum.] Gore's facts are legion, and his way of stringing them together is intelligent and compelling, building a powerful picture of a world ecology at risk. Have you been wondering if it's your imagination that the lilacs are blooming earlier and earlier ... no, it isn't. It's just one of the 'Inconvenient Truths' that we don't want to look at about how our globe is changing faster than we imagined was possible. Without being alarmist, this is an important, worthy and well-researched book, well worth your time, and will provoke thought. My only wish is for more solutions to the dilemma we seem to have created for ourselves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book and movie. Al Gore will be remembered for his ability to present the facts as to why we must change in order to be successful in the natural world. I have personally interacted with the USA government regarding inconvenient truths and I can confirm that they have an extensive web of deceit in place to enable these “Inconvenient Truths” to be simply ignored. Keep on drinking the Kool-Aid! This book is a great starting point for those who want to understand environmental problems and where it is taking us all.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
As a graduate student of environmental modeling and climatology, I can say that Al Gore's account of the current scientific knowledge is thoroughly accurate and summarizes what I have learned in my field. This book provides a strong and powerful lesson for the citizens of this country and the world, in that we must all be accountable for our actions. This not only means that we should change our outlook on our role as one species on this planet, but also that we should strive to strengthen our understanding of the political and scientific discourses as well as support innovative technologies that can lead us to a sustainable system of life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Incredibly insightful. The passion and intellect with which Mr. Gore presents the severity of the global warming issue in written form and on the screen is impressive. Well documented and well developed. A must read for all curious and concerned citizens.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is always difficult to digest bad news. But the when a major part of the cause is us the truth must be told. I respect the author for the effort to bring this very important issue forward. It's a must read. But will we take the inconvenient truth seriously or stay with our convenient lies?
Guest More than 1 year ago
To me this was and amazing book since I have spend 7 years fighting this battle, making people understand. There are no lies, like other reviewer said, it is about informing everybody worldwide about what its going on. We have to contribute at least in small ways. Join us on our cause to 'stop global warming'
Guest More than 1 year ago
we cannot just put this issue aside for our children and grandchildren to deal with. We face facts every day and with each passing year it is sort of getting worse. But we must realize that if we get too carried away our children and grandchildren will be scared and think they will die. But we also must realize that we must take care of this issue! Every one reading this review make everyone aware of this issue. Tell them how they can help and what they can do to stop it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Al Gore and Rodale Books does an excellent job stringing together disparate data, charts and pictures to impress upon all of us the historic calamity about to befall us unless we change our SUV-driving ways. If yu love your kids, you definately must see this. Al Gore, the New Jeremiah!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The movie is not in my town yet, so I read the book. It is inspiring! I signed my name on the inside cover with date read and told my wife 'I'm a geek, you have a week.' She has to pass it on within a week to someone who will do the same. I am thinking of buying ten and doing the same thing. I might actually be a geek, but reading it and taking the actions at the end of the book makes me think I am part of something big, and that we can do something historic in reversing global climate change.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a great assest to people that dont have the time or attention span to sit down and learn the nuts and bolts about the science behind global warming. This book serves a purpose as a way to get across the dire message that yes, there is something wrong with the planet at this time and hopefully this book will be the starting point for interested people to look further into global warming and see what they can do about it. No, global warming is not disputed (by any scientists, look it up...). There is no disputed published results in any academic journals that argue against global warming. Yes, weather patterns do go through cyclic changes. Unfortunately thats not the point and a great way for uber conservatives to distract from the hard facts and science of it all. The POINT is that there has been no such change in HISTORY that shows such a drastic change in weather patterns and storm severity. I hope that people that bash this book would at least do their homework and look into the science of global warming before using their baseless claim to turn people away from the 'inconvient' truth :' enjoy the book. its a good read and has excellent pictures. do your part and help to save our planet!