Al Gore's documentary on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth” is a great film that should be seen by everyone on the planet. However, the film leaves out critical information that robs audiences of an opportunity to take immediate steps to reduce global warming at zero cost and great benefit.
“An Inconvenient Truth” does a good job of presenting the case for global warming but focuses on carbon dioxide and fails to mention the role of methane. Data published by leading climatologist Dr. James Hansen and others show that methane is a greater cause of global warming than CO2 - a huge fact completely absent from Al Gore's film.
Al Gore also neglects to mention the fact that one of the biggest reasons carbon dioxide levels are so high is not just human use of carbon fuels but agricultural deforestation. Cutting down trees greatly reduces the Earth's ability to absorb CO2.
CO2 VS Methane
Atmospheric carbon dioxide is at record levels and is a significant cause of global warming, however, human activity only contributes 3% of the total amount of atmospheric CO2 each year. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that methane is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Human activity produces nearly 400% more methane than natural sources. Carbon dioxide levels have increased since pre-industrial times by about 35% while methane has risen 123%.
Eating our Planet to Death
While Al does admit his family's involvement in the beef business he doesn't mention that most deforestation has been done to support the beef industry. Most rain forest is being cut down to grow soy beans to feed cattle and chickens. Nor does he mention that it takes about 284 gallons of oil to produce a cow.
Eating one pound of hamburger does the same damage as driving your car for more than three weeks.
Americans alone consume 28 billion pounds of beef each year at a cost of 4.62 trillion pounds of CO2. The global burden of beef production is simply a weight the planet can't bear.
As absurd as it sounds, evidence suggests that cow & pig flatulance and decaying manure are the largest contributors of methane. According to the EPA, livestock "produce about 80 million metric tons of methane annually."
The other big issue about CO2 that Al Gore ignores is that it takes 100-200 years for CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere. This means that if humans stopped producing all CO2 immediately it would be at least another 100 years before existing CO2 levels started to drop, whereas it only takes 10 to 20 years for methane to be mitigated. If we reduce methane production now we will see some benefits in time to make a difference. The modest CO2 reductions that are economically possible simply won't make any real difference in time, but the reductions must still be made.
Trees are vital to the planet's ability to convert CO2 into oxygen and put carbon back into the soil. As more trees are cut down the planet is less able to absorb the C02 and so carbon dioxide levels rise rapidly. Even if we stopped using fossil fuels completely CO2 levels would continue to rise as deforestation continues. Land cleared to grow bio-fuels would only make matters worse.
Tackling deforestation and methane production must be the primary focus of efforts to reduce global warming. Anything else is primarily just a 'feel-good' measure that will make no real difference in time to prevent catastrophe.
The single most important thing a person can do to reduce global warming right now is to simply stop eating animals.
If humans greatly reduced their consumption of animals a tremendous amount of forest could be spared and tens of millions of acres could be reforested. Much less C02 and methane would be produced. Carbon sinks could be restored and global warming could perhaps be reduced.
There is no nutritional requirement for humans to eat anything more than the diet their body was intended for - fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts. A healthy diet results in a healthier body and a healthier planet.
Al Gore dare not mention these truths about global warming. If he told the truth he might have to change his own eating habits and acknowledge the responsiblity of his family's cattle business, just as he confessed to his family's growing of tobacco and his sister's death from lung cancer from cigarettes. It is also likely that few people would go to see his film and there would be less awareness about global warming, which may be enough reason for him to not tell the truth.
Perhaps it is best to initially tell a popular half-truth that is a step in the right direction than tell a greater truth that no one wants to hear.
While we are all wringing our hands about global warming, it is only getting worse and there is no solution in sight because no on wants to tell us the truth we don't want to hear. How inconvenient.
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