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Apr 18, 2006

There Will Be No Snows







Honestly, I was hard pressed to identify "better" or "worse" images from the "An Inconvenient Truth" trailer.

The film, hosted by Al Gore, is like a global warming nightmare roller coaster ride.  There is great use of black-and-white.  I love that rising, glowing temperature indicator ball.  With the Katrina disaster fresh in mind, the hyper-spinning hurricane on the thermal weather tracker was pretty nerve wracking, as were the pinned back palm trees and the slamming, crashing wave shots.  Of course, watching huge chunks of Florida, Shanghai and Calcutta suddenly turned into swamp is also quite alarming.

Still, after taking the ride about four or five times (each time, getting a little more creeped out by all that drying up, cracking earth), I'd have to say I'm still partial to the Kilimanjaro sequence.

Maybe it is winter in the first shot and summer in the second, as one person commented on the trailer's discussion thread.  Even so.  The film has the acumen to play on any number of visual images (and, in this example, visual phrases too) that have been imprinted in us since grade school -- all toward a vital end.

Most interesting of the three frames, however, is probably the last one.  I read it as the lone scientist, verifying a disaster that we really could have handled back, say, in 2006.

Watch "An Inconvenient Truth" trailer here.  Climate Crisis website.

(images: "An Inconvenient Truth")


Uhm... Regarding the Kilimanjaro Winter/Summer conspiracy:

The Kilimanjaro is at approx. 3 deg 04' south of the equator so there are, in fact, no seasons.


There is no doubt that the planet is warming up, and has been since the last ice age ended. The only questions is how much humans and their out-gassing of energy is to blame for making it worse, and whether or not cutting back on our energy use will do any good. I think we're probably helping warm it up faster, but frankly the warming has been going on for thousands of years, and blaming human activity alone cuts no ice with experts. Hence, documentaries like these do very little good. Besides, the human race as it exists today arose during the last ice age and did pretty well for itself. Sorry if this is not the line many want to hear, but the fact that this statement is true makes me feel a bit better about how human beings will cope with any climate change that comes about.

Cut down on your energy use, certainly, but also sell your property on the coast, build your house out of brick and not straw, hunker down when the wind blows and keep your eyes on sneaky politicans instead of the thermometer.

I love Gore for doing this. But please, lets cut to the chase, the guy should announce he is running for Pres in 2008. And do it right now before it is too late and the dragon lady locks up the nomination.

I didn't watch the trailer... what is that last picture showing?

In the photos of Mount Kilimanjaro, it's not only a lack of snow in the second picture, but some of the top of the mountain is gone. I guess some of that is the ice and snow, but then without the snow, there's no protection against erosion.

But does anyone know... is it getting hotter consistently all over the earth? Because it's quite hot enough here in Kuwait already.

I was interested to see the contrast between professional meteorological/nature footage and the low-budget looking shots of Al Gore lecturing people. Is this to lend an air of authenticity to the documentary? It seems like a clear stylistic choice because it wouldn't be too hard to make it look slicker. And, again with the grainy postcard image of Kilimanjaro; surely there are ample photo resources to draw from since it is a famous landmark. But, the innocence and nostalgia conjured up by the picturesque photo increases the emotional impact. Also, the computerized maps showing the potential flooding were interesting. Just in case a hundred million foreigners being killed or forced to migrate doesn't move you, well, Gore is sure to show the comparatively little damage that will be done to the US which is sure to affect someone you know. It's like high school ecology class. The Katrina footage seems a little opportunistic. He opens himself up for attack because he implies that it was directly caused by global warming which I believe is impossible to verify on a case-by-case basis.

Not that I am disputing the veracity of the statements made, just analyzing the images.

On the contrary melbataost, it is the intensity of hurricanes like Katrina that are related to warmer weather patterns, so Gore has not necessasairly left himself open to criticism here. Although, yes no one can say for certain it is related, but that qualifyer is carrying less and less wieght in global warming discussions. I agree that Gore should announce for Pres. The 50 million plus who voted for him in 2000 would again. Plus he can run the campaign HE wants to run. He has nothing to lose really and everything to gain by helping change the political system for the better. Gore can be the voice of credibilty the US needs to get respect back internationally and to tackle climate change with responsible actions.

Confirming your choice of images, I was trying to describe the trailer to a friend of mine, and the snows of Mt Kilimanjaro image is also what I choose to communicate the impact. So in the One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words category, this may be the picture.

Global climate change (coupled with peak oil and resource depletion) is the issue for the rest of our lives. And as Gore says in the trailer, "it is a moral issue, not a political one...Our ability to live is at stake."

The danger is that, without leadership, no one knows quite what to do. It is very scary. And as long as many live in denial, it will be impossible to make any difference. So let us all hope that the image of snowless Kilimanjaro acts a catalyst for change.

I'm an active climber..rock, ice, mountaineering..the whole bit. Those pics are both summer. Mountaineering journals and literature are actually very good at documenting this type thing, because as the snowpack/icepack changes and glaciers retreat it often significantly alters the climbing routes, at times they dissapear completely. The north face of the Eiger is one prime example, having the classic routes in a much altered state as is a formerly classic/much sought route on the NF of the Grand Teton. This was called the "Black Ice Couloir", essentially a 700ft ribbon of ice best climbed in early to mid summer. It is GONE. There is no more ice in the couloir.

I could go on and on...Ferrari route on Alpamayo in the Andes fell off the mountain a few years was a large snow fluting and one of the most aesthetic routes anywhere. My point here is this is not a localized phenomena...I've just named stuff in Africa, Europe, South America, North America. Here in Alaska one of the glacier park viewpoints/visitor centers now looks on a barren moraine as the glacier has retreated several hundred yards around a bend in the valley. God help us all.

itwasnt me "..and blaming human activity alone cuts no ice with experts"-its sure cutting a lot of ice for polar bears.

I climbed Kili a little over a year ago. It's very close to the equator so there's very little seasonal difference outside of a slightly drier or wetter season.

Somewhere on the Internets, there are overhead views of the glacier today and thirty or forty years ago. The difference is nothing short of phenomenal. We're not talking about a little bit of snow and ice. The glacier I stood next to and touched was over forty feet tall!

The earth warms and the earth cools, but the trends observed today are diverging from the observable historical record.

I can't wait to see the film.

the kilimanjaro was the most striking sequence of the trailer for me, as well. my dad was in malawi with the peace corps 40 years ago, and at one point climbed kilimanjaro. growing up, i would hear stories about the climb, and about how one of his friends came down with a severe case of hypothermia by the time they reached the top, and they basically had to turn right around and rush him down the mountain. it's one of those stories that dads love to tell... a dangerous episode from his youth that seems to get more and more detailed with each telling. it's a great story to hear, and one that introduced me to the mountain before i was even old enough to know how to pronounce it... "kilimanjaro" always represented something mythic, and otherworldly.

a few weeks ago, another one of my dad's peace corps buddies came for a visit, as they're both planning a reunion this summer for all the people they were stationed with. we looked at a lot of old slides, including a bunch from the kilimanjaro trip. i had seen all these slides before at one point, but not in a while... they were all the more fascinating to see now, as i'm just a year or two younger than my dad was in those photos. most captivating were the pictures from kilimanjaro... seeing pics of my dad bundled head to toe like an arctic explorer... spiked treads on his feet, frost on his leather goggles, ice in his beard... there was this elemental purity to his environment, and its power was visible in the expressions on the faces of those climbers. when i saw the clip from "an inconvenient truth," the sight of the bare face of kilimanjaro formed a lump in my throat that did not soon disappear. i knew it would strike my dad in a similar way, and i forwarded him the link. i can only imagine how difficult it was for him to see the slow weakening of his memory's mountain.

The only upside to global warming is the destruction of Florida. I wish I still had some canned hairspray to contribute to that effort.

From what I saw in the trailer, it doesn't say whether we caused it or not, just that it's going to happen. Arguing on what caused it should not take away from the fact that it's happening right now, and we should prepare. That doesn't mean we shouldn't do what we can, but don't expect it to make a difference for another 100 years.

In 2002, there was still some glacier near the crater on Kili. Picture here. And you could still get hypothermia -- one person in our party did.

However, any effort to get across the reality of global warming serves our interest. For myself, as I walk along San Francisco Bay, I try to visualize just how much of what I am seeing will be under water in 30, 50, 100 years.

My brother climbed up Mt. Kili, still snow up there and he can see it out the back...but I think he said the anual rate it was melting is ~6% (single whole digits).

Global warming when it leads to the ice caps really melting will likely start a positive feedback loop on the earth that will make a plan look like a fools game - the only plan is trying to stop as much of our contribution to it as possible, and to pray when the nutjob drives by you going 100mph in the exit lane throwing a McD's bad out the window.

I paid $47 to fill the tank today...

There is no question whether humanity is causing and unprecedented acceleration of a natural warming trend. The only dissenters are the biostitutes that work for this fat disgusting CEO of Exxon.

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