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A review (and a preview) of the documentary “The Great Warming”

Kate Sheppard, Grist
The Great Warming aims to do what other climate change books, TV shows, and films haven’t. In lieu of purely scientific or data-based persuasion, it appeals to viewers’ sense of spiritual and moral responsibility. On that level, it succeeds.

Debuting in American theaters on Nov. 3 but already making the rounds in the country’s churches, the film takes regular folks and lets them talk about climate change, attempting to appeal to the emotions of, well, regular folks. There’s Danny Duet down in Louisiana talking about the changes he’s seen on the bayou, the rising waters and receding dry land. There’s Rev. Gerald Durley trying to explain global warming to a pack of elementary-school children. There’s even a dramatized reenactment of a woman being rushed to the hospital during an asthma attack, after which attending physician Jean Zigby pauses to address the camera: “I’m worried that I’m going to have my daughter in 10 years from now looking up at me and saying ‘Dad, why didn’t we do anything? We knew it was coming. We had all the information. Why didn’t you do something?’ And I don’t have an answer to that.”

The film has been making its way around the evangelical church scene since this past summer, accompanied by voter guides and eco-sermons. Paul de Vries, a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals, has called the film “a must-see for Bible-believing people.” About two-thirds of the way in, a chunk of the film focuses on the green movement among evangelical Christians. It starts out with some of the basic “change-your-light-bulbs” kind of advice, but then, impressively, draws the lesson out to the greater political context.

Though not explicitly political in nature, the film doesn’t avoid politics, either. It self-consciously tries to appeal to the nearly 50 percent of the GOP base that considers itself evangelical. It tells folks that not only does it matter what they do in their daily life, but who they elect matters, too.

…William Nitze, chair of the Climate Institute, sums up the film’s motives rather neatly: “It is not going to be dollars and cents, in the end, that is going to move people on this issue. It’s going to be the perception that their own short-term selfishness is destroying the world and that as spiritual beings, they have a duty not to be so selfish.”

…I do support a film that can reach the vast, untapped wealth of nice folks who need this type of warm invitation (pun intended!) to join the ranks of climate change activists. Watching The Great Warming may not boost your scientific acumen, but it will make you feel all squishy inside about your ability to create change.
(31 Oct 2006)
What scientists and environmentalists often forget is that the movement to stop global warming or deal with peak oil must be a broad one. Arguments that are quantitative or overtly environmental do not resonate with most of the population. Movies such as “The Great Warming” are exactly what is needed to help Americans understand climate change. (Note: Scientists, American public disagree sharply over global warming.)

The original post at Grist has a YouTube preview of the film which focuses on Evangelical response to climate change. -BA

Climate research center’s oversight up for bidding

Nicholas Riccardi, LA Times
Wanna run a government lab staffed by hundreds of scientists tackling climate issues like global warming?

For the first time in 46 years, management of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, perched on a ridge under the Rocky Mountains northwest of here, is up for grabs. Since 1997, National Science Foundation policy has required that all government research institutions be subject to a competitive bidding process when their contracts come up for renewal.

Foundation officials say that a formal request for bids is imminent and that the competition will be open to all organizations – academic, nonprofit and for-profit. Since its founding in 1960, the atmospheric center, based in Boulder, has been run by a nonprofit consortium of 70 universities, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

The center’s research on global warming and its forecasts of rising temperatures, fiercer wildfires and stronger storms have drawn the ire of some politicians. But officials in Washington say that politics will not affect the competition.

“This doesn’t really have anything to do with the science that’s getting done there,” said Kristin Spencer, the agreements officer at the National Science Foundation who is handling the competition.

The current five-year agreement to run the atmospheric center, which ends in September 2008, is worth $548 million.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who contends that human-caused global warming is a “hoax,” wrote to the foundation in February to confirm it was putting the atmospheric center’s management agreement out for bid. He also asked for lists of the roughly 1,000 employees of the center and its operating consortium, as well as the identities of such employees under contract with other government agencies or nonprofits.
(29 Oct 2006)
Nothing to do with politics? Uh-huh, right. -BA

California: Schwarzenegger, Angelides both profess to lean green

Tim Reiterman, LA Times
With his popularity lagging, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seized center stage at a United Nations conference in June 2005 by unfurling an ambitious plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the most populous state.

“As of today,” he said, “California is going to be the leader in the fight against global warming.”

By standing against climate change, the Republican governor set himself apart from the Bush administration and laid claim to a central environmental issue in his reelection effort.

…The pro-business Hummer aficionado and former movie star [Schwarzenegger] has used his office to undertake high-profile initiatives for air quality and the protection of ocean and forestland, while critics grumble that his less visible actions sometimes have belied his lofty words.

The state treasurer, a hybrid-driving former developer who has bumped heads with conservationists [Angelides}, has employed the financial clout of two of the nation’s largest pension funds – with far less fanfare – to establish himself as a “green” investor.
(28 Oct 2006)

Scientists, American public disagree sharply over global warming

Robert S. Boyd, McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON – When it comes to global warming, scientists and the American public aren’t talking on the same wavelength.

Most scientists believe that humans and their machines are mainly responsible for the 1.4 degree Fahrenheit rise in the world’s average temperature in the last 100 years. Most Americans think otherwise.

Last Wednesday, a group of 18 climate scientists, including two Nobel Prize winners, submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court declaring that they’re 99 percent certain that “greenhouse gas emissions from human activities cause global climate change, endangering human health and welfare.”

Only 41 percent of those polled last summer by the Washington-based Pew Research Center, however, accepted the argument that climate change is due primarily to human activities, such as burning fossil fuels in cars, trucks and factories.

The rest of the 1,501 adults in the survey either said there’s no solid evidence that the Earth is warming, or that if there is, the extra heat is the result of natural climate patterns, such as fluctuations in the sun’s radiation.
(30 Oct 2006)

New Culprit in Climate Change? Try Airlines

Eric Pfanner, NY Times
At a time when many marketers are polishing their “green” credentials, an advertisement that appeared recently in British newspapers seemed to go sharply against the grain.

“Let’s not worry about climate change,” it urged, quoting a supposed aviation industry executive named Sir Montgomery Cecil, from a group calling itself Spurt.

“We in the aviation industry have had enough of hearing about the environment,” the ad said. “But those environmentalists just won’t shut up about aviation and climate change. It’s time we took a stand for decent hard-working shareholders and told the lentil mob to ‘can it.’ ”

As you have probably guessed, the ad was a spoof and neither Spurt nor Sir Montgomery Cecil exists. It directed readers to a Web site that revealed the sponsors to be the environmental organizations Greenpeace and AirportWatch, along with a British advocacy group called Enoughsenough.

The ad reflects the emergence of a new target in the pursuit of green consumers. While oil companies and other industries have long had to contend with the concerns of environmental groups, and have responded with advertising promoting earth-friendly initiatives, the public attack on the airlines is a more recent development.

Eco-campaigners say air travel is one of the fastest-growing producers of emissions linked to global warming. But flying has been somewhat sheltered from their ire until recently – perhaps because of its popularity with consumers, businesspeople and environmental activists alike.
(30 Oct 2006)