It’s Getting Hot In Here

Here is my contribution to Blog Action Day (October 15). This year’s theme is Climate Change.

pogoI came late into the whole global warming consciousness thing, and it came by way of Hollywood, and partly via science fiction.

The notion of a world ravaged by either a nuclear holocaust, a biological disaster, or an environmental catastrophe was a formula and a post-modern speculative fiction staple. Inevitably this would involve a man who had miraculously survived all that and was chased by aliens, mutant zombies or intelligent apes.

And that man was usually Charlton Heston. And in later times, he was usually Will Smith.

But the notion of the environmental disaster producing something more menacing than zombies had not occurred to me until The Day After Tomorrow, a film much pilloried in its day for its cheesy acting and story line, and much praised for its spectacular special effects. The key horror in this film was global warming induced climate change that proceeded at a breakneck pace. In a matter of days, a series of unfortunate climate events had conspired to bring a slew of storms and blizzards that led to a new ice age.

Real weathermen and climatologists deemed that speed to fast, too fantastic, and laughed it off as a silly film. But the prospect of a climate gone mad due to a line up of disturbances struck a chord in me, and I wondered if it could all really happen.

The second film that made a tremendous impact, is of course the documentary based on Al Gore’s “The Greatest Keynote Presentation that ever lived”An Inconvenient Truth. In the film, Gore seemed like quite an affable presenter, cris-crossing the world delivering his slide show on global warming. The film’s main thesis was that excessive C02 buildup caused by our burning of fossil fuels and the decline of the world’s forests was causing global warming and the end result would cause the climate to change.

On paper, a film about a guy giving a slide show sounds like a dull premise, and yet I mark this documentary us as one of the most frightening films of all time for the message it delivered. That we had gone so far, so fast, in putting the world on an auto-pilot to destruction.

One of the key sequences in An Inconvenient Truth showed the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans in 2005. The floods, the levees breaking, the looting, the survivors on rooftops, the failure of government relief agencies to respond – all would be replicated in 2009 in the Philippines with the floods due to typhoons Ketsana and Parma.

These typhoons came at us with atypical strength – Ketsana would dump more rain in Metropolitan Manila than had been experienced since 1967, 42 years ago. Parma was likewise atypical, pouring more rain into the northern part of Luzon island than could ever be remembered. In both cases, the water level at dams and reservoirs rose to record heights. While the levees did not break, as in the case of Katrina, water was voluntarily released by government officials to prevent the dams from breaking. And the results proved devastating – much wider in scope than Katrina.

In the mountain ranges of Benguet, the constant rains fell on slopes denuded by deforestation, causing massive landslides that killed entire communities and isolated towns and cities.

In the news coverage, Philippine weathermen from the national weather agency Pag-Asa struggled to find a clue for all this. And the dreaded “C” words were offered as the cause. Climate Change, they said. Climate Change is the villain. Not us.

Ridiculous. By now, we know who is truly responsible for Climate Change.

Cartoonist Walt Kelly (of the comic strip “Pogo”) gave us the correct bogeyman for all of this. In the 70’s he wrote. “We have the met the enemy, and he is us.”

When looking for the root cause, look no further.

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3 thoughts on “It’s Getting Hot In Here

  1. Here’s a message just in from the organizers of Blog Action Day:

    Hey bloggers,

    You did it!

    Yesterday you and bloggers in 155 countries across six continents wrote about a single issue that impacts us all, and turned Blog Action Day 2009 into one of the largest social change events ever held on the web.

    Your participation helped change the conversation and showed the power of the web to connect people across the world who despite their varied backgrounds have one shared desire: to make a difference. According to blogpulse, we increased the number of posts about climate change on a given day by 500%, and CNN wrote a great article covering the excitement and diversity of today’s event across the web and around the world.

    A full recap is up on our blog, and here are some highlights:

    We hit 31,000 total trackable blog posts, and our current estimate is that together we reached at least 17.9 million people yesterday. We just exceeded 13,000 registered bloggers on the site and are working to get all of you who posted but haven’t yet registered into the final count.

    We had at least three major world governments as active participants in this year’s event. United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown posted the first Blog Action Day entry in Britain at the stroke of midnight on the 15th, which was followed by Foreign Minister David Milliband and many others from the UK stationed around the world. The PSOE governing party of Spain hosted a bloggers event focused on climate change and transformed their website for the day to promote Blog Action Day. And late in the day, President Barack Obama’s White House blog joined in become part of the global movement of bloggers shaking the web.

    Of course, well-known bloggers were a big presence yesterday as well:

    * The Official Google Blog gave a green tour of the company’s campus;
    * Mashable asked what you’re doing to reverse climate change;
    * The Unofficial Apple Weblog suggested “Five apps to help save the world”;
    * Treehugger gave us two simple things that could, by themselves, stop climate change;
    * Global Voices posted a roundup of bloggers from around the world writing in many languages;
    * Gadling spent the whole day posting about green travel;
    * BlogHer covered the road to the next international climate negotations in Copehagen.

    There are many more, and we encourage you to check out the Featured Posts on the blogactionday.org homepage for a longer list of some of the world’s largest blogs.

    Many of our nonprofit partners, leading organizations from around the world, were also actively involved in making the event a success:

    * TckTckTck released a beautiful and touching new video;
    * Greenpeace bloggers from around the world joined in;
    * World Wildlife Fund featured Blog Action Day on their international climate blog;
    * Oxfam helped emphasize the human side of the climate crisis;
    * 1Sky wrote about the front lines of political activism in the US;
    * The Nature Conservancy helped us understand the science of climate change;
    * NRDC’s Switchboard bloggers wrote informative posts all day;
    * Consequence wrote a whole series of posts on youth climate leadership.

    You should all feel proud of this remarkable collective effort. And it doesn’t have to end today. For many, we hope this serves as an entry point into the broader movement to address the issue of climate change. There are a number of ways and some amazing organizations through which you can continue to remain involved, and we encourage you to check out our Take Action section to learn more.

    We will continue providing updates and information about the success of today’s event and ongoing opportunities for involvement–including the the October 24th International Day of Climate Action organized by our friends at 350.org–here in the weeks ahead, and we hope you’ll stay with us.

    Thank you so much,

    Robin Beck
    Lead Organizer
    Blog Action Day 2009

  2. Sadly, I wasn’t able to write a post in lieu of Blog Action Day.

    I watched the Al Gore’s presentation 3 years ago, and what struck me most was, aside from Hurricane Katrina’s wrath, the occurence of heat wave in 2005.

    By the way, some don’t consider the video a documentary. In UP, they say Al Gore injected some political juice into it so as to gain compassion from the general public.

  3. Hope you guys joined that 350.org. If you haven’t, here’s the gist.(I actually learned about it from the Colbert Report!) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is supporting scientific studies saying that there is a 50% chance of keeping increases of world temperature within 2°C if the total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) concentration remains below 450 ppm (parts per million). And we all know that that 2°C is crucial if don’t want to end up in a dangerous climate change scenario.

    What the 350 org is saying is that the 450 ppm GHG concentration threshold is actually misleading! Why? Because even now that the concentration is about 390, we are already experiencing signs of dangerous climate change (think Katrina, Ondoy, melting of glaciers, etc.) and that our goal should really be to reduce GHG concentrations to 350 ppm. Really does make sense.

    Recently too, they have called support for the Maldives President’s survival pact, saying that they “will not die quietly.” They were in the news recently holding a cabinet meeting underwater – a symbolic protest of what will be their fate (and probably ours too) if we don’t do anything about climate change. Here’s the pact, please sign too.
    link

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