Friday, February 16, 2007

Global Warming and Al Gore

February 10, 2007 | 03:31 PM
Global Warming and Al Gore

Yetserday I attended Al Gore's stunning lecture on Global Warming. I have heard him before. 2 years ago in Puerto Rico. The lecture is different, and that's what is frightening. So much more devastation has taken place in the last two years. Or atleast what we have learnt in the last two years about the devastation we have caused is frightening...

The other day I was having a conversation with my producer of Golden Age. He was talking very intelligently about the irresponsible way we have treated our planet. And about the need to teach India and China, as they will be the next great polluters.

And yet he calmly drove off in his gas guzzling Bentley. As others will fly in their private jets. Or go for cruises in their private yachts. Or aspire to buy bigger and bigger mansions that need larger amounts of energy to keep an incredibly small number of people warm or cool. Indeed as I watched the people at the World Ecnomic Forum making huge statements about Global Warming, I wondered how many had arrived in Davos in their private jets and helicopters.

In the few times I have attended, it was the buzz in the Indian contingent about who had a private jet or a helicopter standing by.

Thats the problem isn't it ? The answer to Global warming often is a statistic that is applied to a mass, rather than taking individual personal action.

So currently every one talks about the next great polluters. India and China. Yet, for all it's population, India still emitts only a tiny tiny fraction of the emissions from the US. Who emitts a staggering 30% of the world's total !! And China ? A stunning fact I discovered at Al Gore's lecture was that China's emission standards for Automobiles in China was far far stricter than those in the US. So American cars would not be allowed on Chinese roads !

One statement that Al Gore made I do disagree with. He stated that global warming was directly linked to population. However I would state that Global Warming is much more linked to how a population behaved. Otherwise how would you account for a country like US that is by no means overpopulated, but for the last 30 years has been by far the greatest polluter in the world. Both at home and through it's corporations overseas by causing destruction fo rain forests.

The solution to Global warming is going to lie in how an individual behaves. Unfortunately aspirations the world over are about consumption. Wealth is associated with the power to consume. Indiividuality is asserted by a show of consumption. You consume, therefore you are. The more you consume, the more you 'are'.

It was not always like that. In my own lifetime I remember being in London in the late 60's and 70's. A show of wealth was looked down upon. In fact one of the greatest car designs was born out of the mood at that time - the Mini. It was small, it was cheap, and people would be rather seen in a small mini rather than a rolls royce !

I guess the goverments too must take far greater stands. I do not believe that 'carbon exchange' is the answer. It just says that if you have the wealth you can pollute as much as you like as long as you pay for it ! That is completely the wrong mindset, isn't it ?

The battle lies in changing the mind of the individual. The battle lies in our education system that must teach young minds about how consumption can become immoral. Yet I wonder if, in a world where economic growth is fueled by the 'propensity to consume' how the goverments will ever allow that to change.

Look at one great 'doom indicators'. That if retail sales over any holiday period were down. Even a 1% drop causes furrows in the brows of the economists. So as long the economic stability of a society depends upon urging the people to consume more and more, how is this going to change ?

That is why I believe that the change must come from within. From the individual. From the parent to the child. From the teacher to the child. From each one of us socially bycotting any overconsumption. By making such consumption 'unfashionable'.

Got to start somewhere !


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