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Al Gore’s new book.. Our Choice: A Plan to solve the climate crisis

November 6, 2009
Our Choice

Our Choice

So, Al Gore has just released his new book as a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth. A couple of days ago I did an entry on Timothy Luke’s critique of An Inconvenient Truth, which happens to be one of many around. In any case, if any of you were to pick up this book, I’d like to offer some guidelines as to how you may read it critically so that you are not “green washed” without knowing the political knowledge being deployed through such publications.

1. Anglo-American centricism: Look out for the context in which Al Gore has written about solving the climate crisis. We need to apply the solutions somehow to the Asia-Pacific context and better suit solutions to the developing world.

2. Gender: Males and females orientation of this world is different and women are generally more inclined to attach emotions to their actions. Usually such publications, because of its underlying political agenda, neglects to acknowledge the differences between genders or recognize other forms of genders.

3. Photos: Take a good look at the photos used in this publication if you pick it up. I bought An Inconvenient Truth publication because I wanted to take a better look at the photos shown by Al Gore on his slides in the film version. However, these photos are well deployed and used cleverly. We must learn to be critical of these photos and apply our understanding of natural climate change/glacial interchanges when looking at popularist films and videos like this. It is important to understand that photographers may be employed to take photos of a certain sort to represent climate crisis as urgent.

Having said this, it is not that the climate crisis isn’t urgent or that we should not embark on climate action today but that the media can often distort information and cause skepticism among the masses. Images of polar bears drowning is one such example. See the article below:

Polar bears would stand a greater chance of avoiding extinction if people stopped shooting them than if they reduced greenhouse gas emissions, according to a book by a leading environmental sceptic.

Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish professor who achieved international fame with his previous book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, examines and rejects claims by environmentalists and the former president Al Gore that polar bears are drowning because the sea ice they hunt on is melting.

Lomborg says the story about drowning bears is taken from a single sighting of four dead bears the day after an abrupt windstorm. The bears came from a population that was actually increasing, which has been the overall trend in the polar bear population since the 1960s.

He provides evidence that 11 out of 13 distinct populations of polar bears in Canada are either stable or increasing in number.

In his new book, Cool It: the Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, he quotes a Canadian government biologist who said: “They are not going extinct or even appear to be affected at present.”

Prof Lomborg points out that over the past decades, the global polar bear population has increased dramatically from about 5,000 members in the 1960s to around 25,000 as a result of the regulation of hunting.

Even if a decline in the bear population has taken place since the 1980s, he says, if we try to help them by cutting greenhouse gases we can at the very best avoid 15 bears dying, with realistic option meaning that it is probably only around 0.06 bears per year.

But he says, if we care for stable populations of polar bears, dealing with the 49 polar bears from the same population around Hudson Bay that get shot each year might be a smarter and more viable strategy.


Thus, we must remain critical of popularist notions of climate action and embark on real and material action today!

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