Americans love their cars, their TVs, their mobile phones, and all those fancy electronic gadgets as part of their flashy lifestyles. However, this lifestyle comes with a huge price – it contributes to the pilling-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The dangers Americans pose themselves has not escaped the concern of various personalities, locally and internationally. The movies, “An Inconvenient Truth” and “The Day After Tomorrow” are a case in mind. They explore the dangers of global warming, but in an American experience.
They both depict how the daily activities we as human beings and as Americans indulge in are so impacting in the increasing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere, in “An Inconvenient Truth” for instance, Al Gore describes global warming and global cooling as a manmade crisis, and that it is a worldwide problem that directly touches on each nations welfare and as such therefore, each nation should take full responsibility to control the amount off greenhouse gases they emit.
However, his message seems to resonate loudly to the American political and social circles, especially having in mind that, America is one of the top carbon dioxide emitting countries in the globe despite being home to only 10% of the world’s population, a far cry when compared to China’s high population. After watching two movies produced and filmed by Americans, the “An Inconvenient Truth” and “The Day After Tomorrow” and extensively researching about the causes, effects, and if possible solutions to global warming, in an American context.
As the primary sources (movies) indicate, my approach to the issue is guided by the notion that, America should be in the forefront in agitating for a long term solution to this worldwide menace since it is a leading emitter of greenhouse gases. Apart from the two movies my research materials will include three other newspaper articles that relate to the two movies central theme. Literature Review
In the film “An Inconvenient Truth” Al Gore (the 45th US vice president) uses well researched scientific rhetoric to communicate his convictions about the causes, effects, and the possible remedies to the global warming menace. It follows Gore’s presentation, the “slide show” about his convictions on global warming and its consequences weaved in his life story. In what seems to be a strategy to make the movie’s message more meaningful and therefore more impacting, the movie employs an extensive use of monologue, with Gore as the protagonist.
The reasons are very clear – to Americanize the experience and the message as much as possible by using Gore’s personality which is in America is widely cherished. For instance, in the opening lines he says, “I’m Al Gore and I used to be the next president of the United States of America…” He terms his loss to Bush in the 2000 presidential elections as a “hard blow”, yet it ironically “brought into clear focus, the mission that he has been pursuing for all these years.
” Watching the film, one would not fail to notice how Americans are divided on the right way to combat global warming – Gore and others believes that the current attention the Bush government gives to the menace is not enough, while Bush and others continue to play politics with the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. At the very beginning, the film depicts Gore in a monologue; the monologue takes the form of a poem that talk of a beautiful and peaceful living place that make one forget his/ her tribulations.
He recites, “you look at the river gently flowing by…you feel the grass…its quiet; its peaceful…and its like taking a deep breath and going…” [An Inconvenient Truth, 2006] The central thesis is that global warming is a real disaster and that it is caused by human activities. Al Gore critically explores the causes, effects, and possible solutions to fighting the global warming; he discusses the economic, political, impacts of global warming from both an American and global perspectives. Using scientifically facts he duly supports his arguments with several bits of evidence.
Some of this evidence includes, the photographs of huge glaciers retreating; a 2004 study that was carried out by one Naomi Oreskes that consisted of 928 peer-reviewed scientific articles on global climatic changes between the year 1993 and 2003; discussion of the scientific findings as outlined by researchers at Physics Institute at the University of Bern and findings by the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica all which shows carbon dioxide concentrations higher than any other time during the past 650,000 years; the keeling curve that measures carbon dioxide from the Mauna Loa Observatory, and; temperature records that have been kept since 1880 that indicates that the hottest years ever measures have occurred in the last fourteen years. [An Inconvenient Truth, 2006]
From the film also several effects of global warming are depicted, Gore for instance, warns that should the emissions of greenhouse gases go on unchecked then the largest ice sheet in Greenland may collapse and thus increase the global sea levels by a staggering six meters; this would in turn lead to flooding the coastal areas, a situation which will lead to washing away of many habitable lands. He also depicts the issue of polar bears which he points that they stand to get wiped out due to lack of enough ice to rest on. [An Inconvenient Truth, 2006] Nevertheless, Gore points out that all is not lost and that it may be returned to a manageable situation if only more tree would be planted to absorb the excess carbon dioxide that is emitted into the atmosphere. He makes a courtesy call to Americans and the world to join him finding solutions to the problem.
Being a former vice president and a presidential race loser, Gore’s message may be interpreted as having much political message in it as it has scientific ones. However, Gore disapproves this when he says, “I don’t really consider this a political issue, I consider it to be a moral issue. ” And therefore it is wise to conclude that, though the “slide show” commanded a worldwide audience a more loaded, firsthand message was implied to reach the Americans and especially the bush government that was reluctant in ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. [An Inconvenient Truth, 2006] In the film “The Day After Tomorrow” catastrophic effects of both global warming and global cooling are depicted.
Unlike in the first film discussed above whereby monologue was greatly used, here things are depicted in a more dramatically-exaggerated way. The movie coming in a time when a great controversy dwelled among the environmental and political elites in the US about the agreed causes of global warming, serves to underscore the fact that human actions are responsible for the mayhem that global warming has and will in the long run cause on earth. This denial and lack of a consensus is seen from the very first episode whereby Jack Hall the US government climatologist who is also the protagonist and a colleague (Rapson) almost get themselves killed when a ice shelf they were cutting breaks off.
Shortly afterwards, Jack tries unsuccessfully to convince delegates at the United Nations meeting on global warming about his theory – the delegates cannot connect to his theory; interestingly the US vice president also does not see the connection – Jack compares him with his 17 year old boy, “…but why for the love of God would you aggravate the Vice President?… because my seventeen year old kid knows more science than he does…” [The Day After Tomorrow, 2004] In extension of the variance from the first movie whereby scientifically-backed data was used to describe or explain climatic trends, the author to this film an exaggerated climatic tragedy to trigger the perceptions of the people – more specifically the American people. Rapson confesses his fears to jack, “… We’ve found something extraordinary…extraordinary and disturbing, that is. You recall what you said in New Delhi about how polar melting might disrupt the North Atlantic current…? ” To this Jack confirms that, “…Our climate is fragile.
At the rate we’re polluting the environment and burning fossil fuels, the ice caps will soon disappear…” What follows is a “super-storm” that rocks parts of Tokyo, Japan, but interestingly causes untold mayhem in Los Angeles, US and many other parts of the US. A news reporter announces, “…If you look behind me, that’s a tornado. Yes… in Los Angeles. Its one of many tornados that are destroying the city…” [The Day After Tomorrow, 2004] This super-storm though scientifically not possible has its impacts touching on the Americans political stance on the war against global warming. The royal family for instance, is grounded; it can not be evacuated to safety as there are no flights operating and the helicopters that are sent for their evacuation crashes as a result of frozen fuel lines.
However, as the movie comes to an end the producer assumes a more subtle mode, maybe to get into the virtual world of the Americans and thus solidify the message that their activities are responsible for all what happened and that a reverse can always be achieved if only man could begin reducing the emission of greenhouse gases – this is depicted in the way hope arrives at long last in the form of helicopters to evacuate the surviving. [The Day After Tomorrow, 2004] The fact that the scientific advisor of the film, Dr. Michael Molitor was also a negotiator in the drafting of the Kyoto Protocol is an indicator that the movie was a message to the political leaders (specifically the US government that continues to drag its feet) to hasten their commitments and ratify the Kyoto Protocol in order to fight global warming and global cooling. [The Day After Tomorrow, 2004]
The two films uses totally different approaches to depict global warming on an American experience, Al Gore uses a factual approach, while in “The Day After Tomorrow” a fictional approach is used. Nevertheless, their messages are very clear that; Americans are directly to blame for their uncontrolled lifestyles that are contributing hugely to the piling up greenhouse gases, and that the only solution is to turn around and to the point where the rain started beating them so that they can combat the global menace squarely. Gore narrows down his examples to the way the government ridiculously continues to address the issue – he compares the weight of the earth and that of gold on a scale.
He says, “We have here a scale that balances two different things. On one side, we have gold bars! … Don’t they look good? I’d just like to have some of those gold bars … On the other side of the scales…THE ENTIRE PLANET! … ” [An Inconvenient Truth, 2006] I what seems to be corroboration to the above movies message, the Britain Meteorological Department indicated that Americans are yet to give a full attention to the war against global warming. Many Americans are not even convinced whether global warming is a reality and whether, climate changes prototype to those depicted by Al Gore’s movie and in “The Day After Tomorrow” can practically occur.
Again, this article agrees with the way the vice president, in film “The Day After Tomorrow” put it, “Our economy is every bit as fragile as the environment. “…you should keep that in mind before making sensationalist claims. ” that Americans are only obsessed with “…terrorism as their greatest concern, with 49%… and global warming… with 30%”, This dossier released early in 2007 showed the year 2006 as the six warmest year and the year 2007 as the most hottest year ever witnessed just as Gore asserted, that the warmest ten years have occurred in the last decade and that a failure to put in place a firm solution will result to harsh effects. [Crampton, T. (2007 Jan.
4)] Another article by Sharon Begley supports the two movies when it reports that, over 600 scientists from various nations revealed that global warming was “unequivocal” and that there was “…at least a 90% likelihood that the release of greenhouse gases from burning of fossil fuel is causing longer droughts, more flood-causing downpours and worse heat waves…”, interestingly this has not moved many Americans. The reason is obvious, there is no political goodwill among the Americans – big companies e. g. “ExxonMobil” are sacrificing huge sums of money to convince scientists into making undermining comments on climatic changes scientific gains.
They hide under the arguments that there is no consensus on some of the said climatic changes and it just surprising how they have managed to sow enough doubts among the Americans as a poll conducted in 2006 found that a staggering 64% of Americans thought that there was a lot of “scientific disagreement” and only a third indicated they understood that human beings are the major contributors to global warming. [Begley, Aug. 14, 2007] Further, Eilperin’s article “Climate Plan Splits U. S and Europe” depicts the American experience on global warming as being full of skepticism. The article shows that there is huge gap between the US and other most industrialized nations on matters concerning policy adoption on greenhouse gases emissions.
The bush administration in particular has been a stumbling block on the G-8 efforts to arrive at a consensus on policy matters, citing flaws on some sections that calls for dollar commitments by nations and some scientific flaws. Eilperin asserts that, “…US negotiators, helped pare down a lengthy statement on scientific and policy details by two-thirds, …inserting quotes directly from Bush’s past speeches. ” Interestingly, Bush stance continued to draw national support especially from bodies responsible for environmental matters. [Eilperin, (2005, July 2)] References: • Gore, & Guggenheim, D. (2006) “An Inconvenient Truth”, accessed on February 27, 2009 • Strieber, W. (2004), “The Day After Tomorrow”, accessed on February 27, • Begley, S. (2007, Aug. 13). NEWSWEEK, “The Truth of Denial”, accessed on February 27, 2009
This site vividly depicts various barriers that war against global warming has been facing in American political, social, and economic circles; it has got a number of poll results that indicates the preparedness of the Americans on the fight against global warming. I found the site very useful on my paper as it gave me a clear picture as to why America has been reluctant to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. • Eilperin, J. (2005, July 2). Washington Post, “Climate Plan Splits U. S and Europe”, accessed on February 27, 2009 The site depicts the US position relative to that of the other G-8 members; it describes various sentiments expressed by Bush and other Americans against those made by other European nations.
I found the site very useful to my paper as it gave the arguments made in it an ideological backing. • Crampton, T. (2007 Jan. 4), International Herald Tribune. “More in Europe worry about climate than in U. S. , poll shows”, accessed on February 27, 2009 The site describes polls that were carried across Europe and America to take the feelings of the people about global warming; it gives an account on terrorism, religious fanaticism and global warming as the three main issues that worry citizens, with different figures from Europeans and Americans reported. I found it useful in my paper as it solidified the arguments made about the primary sources to the paper.Sample Essay of RushEssay.com