This film is about a subject which typically we relegate to the back burner. That’s where the topic of “global warming” sits, as we address the problems that seem far more immediate and pressing. The unspoken assumption is that we’ll address “global warming” once we get past the obstacles that are current in our daily lives. Mortgage foreclosures, layoffs and unemployment, wage and benefit cuts, state takeover of our cities, attacks on labor rights, rising college costs, militarization, etc., are the stuff of our current condition. Who’s got time to worry about the warming of the planet?
If we visualize the earth as suffering from a “fever,” we would be less inclined to ignore it. When someone dear to us is suffering from a fever, we acknowledge there’s an underlying problem which needs our urgent attention. Our other ‘to dos” get pushed back; our priorities get switched. Such is the power of a fever.
Our planet is suffering from a “fever.” We know that because scientists regularly take the earth’s temperature. The first decade of the 21st century was the hottest ever recorded. 2011 is no different. If we continue on the current trajectory, scientists are warning that human activity will very soon raise the earth’s temperature 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over what it was a century ago. That’s because the carbon dioxide that we are sending into the atmosphere (from our use of fossil fuels like oil and coal), far exceeds what the earth can absorb. We are creating “greenhouse gases” which are trapping heat, and causing the earth to “catch a fever.” This triggers the more extreme weather patterns we see here and around the world, including “freak” snow storms, record heat waves, extreme hurricanes, and devastating flooding right alongside severe and prolonged droughts.
SHORT TERM VS LONG TERM SURVIVAL?
While we cannot ignore the immediate crises at hand, we cannot postpone tackling the earth’s “fever” until it’s out of control. If so, it will be too late. To get out of this
conundrum we must begin to connect the dots between challenges that are immediately pressing and actions we can take to tackle the underlying cause of our planet’s “fever.” Examples: creating jobs to weatherize homes will lead to reduced energy consumption; hiring workers to build wind turbines can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels; employing laid-off autoworkers to build light rail transit or high speed rail cars can help replace gas guzzlers, etc. As we fight for our immediate needs, in this case jobs, we can simultaneously make inroads towards ensuring our long term survival by ushering in new energy and transportation systems. Our short term and long term survival are therefore one.
A FIVE YEAR WINDOW
Even as we make the connections, many assume that this sort of transformation of our fossil-fuel-based economy to one based on renewable-energy will take decades. The
reality is that the earth’s “fever” is already well along to the point where large scale intervention must happen now. Just as a fever has a tipping point (with potentially deadly consequences), so does global warming. A growing number of informed voices are saying that the trajectory of rising carbon emissions has to be slowed and reversed within 5 years – lest we exceed that 2 degree Celsius limit and push the warming of the planet past a tipping point of no return. If we fail to act, our generation and upcoming generations will witness a run-away warming rate, faster than what the earth has experienced so far. This will bring untold misery. It is urgent we find ways to merge the fight for the immediate needs of today with the equally pressing need to cool the planet. It cannot wait.
7 pm Thurs – Jan 12
19940 Livernois – 1/2 Mi So. of 8 Mile – Detroit
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