Sunday, August 19, 2007

Climate Crisis Update 8-21-07: How Will You Spend Earth's Eleventh Hour? Thom Hartmann Interviews Eleventh Hour Directors

See The Eleventh Hour and Spread the Message to Your Friends and Colleagues

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live through such times. But that is not ours to decide, all we can decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

Climate Crisis Update 8-21-07: How Will You Spend Earth's Eleventh Hour? Thom Hartmann Interviews Eleventh Hour Directors

By Richard Power

What Gandalf told Frodo, as they rested on a rock during their journey through the mines of Moria (Peter Jackson's film version of Lord of the Rings) might as well have been said to any of us, who have kept our eyes, minds and hearts open.

I was reminded of the scene as I listened to this Thom Hartmann Air America Radio interview with the directors of Leonardo Dicaprio's film, The Eleventh Hour: Leila Conyers Peterson and Nadja Conyers.

Dicaprio and these two women have made their decision. Hartmann, who conducts a virtual, national teach-in every weekday morning on the Thom Hartmann Show (and who's prophetic book Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight inspired Dicaprio) has made his decision. Al Gore, who was elected President in 2000, has made his decision.

Many of us have made our decision. If you are reading this, you probably have made your decision. If you haven't, it is not yet too late, and you will make a profound difference, whether you are able to detect it or not.

Here is a transcript from a portion of the 8-17-07 interview.

Thom Hartmann: Leila Conyers Peterson and Nadja Conyers, two sisters who are the directors of The Eleventh Hour, a 2007 feature film documentary, created, produced and narrated by Leonardo Dicaprio on the state of the natural environment, are here in the studio with us ... Let's talk about the making of this movie, and how this film came about?

Leila Conyers Petersen: Well, Nadja, Leo and myself had long conversations about the state of the world, and what we were concerned about was the state of the debate in the country, and how it was just not dealing with the state of the environment, and so we said a film needed to be made. Leo specifically liked your book The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, it was a guiding light in this project, as well as David Orr's book The Last Refuge, and the Bioneers, and we took some of these pieces, and put them together in this narrative, that Leo punctuates throughout. We interviewed 71 people, and had about 150 hours of interview footage, and distilled it down to 91 minutes, which is about a year in the edit bay. It tells the tale of humanity ignoring the disintegration of the Earth's life support systems, and really makes a call to our inner impulse of love and survival, and says, "Hey this is important, life is important, we are all important, let's save ourselves, and the world, together.

Thom Hartmann: ... Nadja, you were telling me 700 high schools kids came to the [Los Angeles] screening?

Nadja Conyers: It was very exciting, because it was the first official public screening. ... 700 hundred high school children came. Global Green got them tickets. .. It was incredibly hopeful to see this new generation, and I said to them, "When I was in high school twenty years ago, I heard about global warming, rainforest depletion, ozone loss -- all of these issues were there, and I thought this was going to be the issue of my generation. Now, [it is] twenty years later, and we have watched corporations and governments consistently deny and ignore what is going on, and basically, keep us consumers, and encourage us to be consumers, and we have lost a certain aspect of our citizenship," and so the environmental issue, and this is what I said to them, and there was just resounding applause, speaks across all lines, and this is not just about the environment anymore, this is about empowerment, and taking back what has been taken away from us. That message is incredibly important to this generation, and to anyone alive right now. It is a human rights and social justice issue.

Hartmann: Leonardo says in the movie we are facing a convergence of crises, and that is a very strong way of putting it. One of the experts in the movie talks about how every living system on the planet is in decline right now, and that the last time this happened was when the dinosaurs vanished. Leila, there is a word used in the movie that did not to my knowledge appear in Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth -- I think of this movie as the next step, this movie picks up where Al Gore's movie left off, and does so brilliantly -- and that word is "extinction."

Leila Conyers Petersen: Well, what hasn't been discussed, and needs to be discussed is that the life support systems, when they decline, impact not just the spotted owl and the trees ... it impacts us very directly, and so, human extinction is on the table here. We are dealing with that possibility. That is a horrific, and terrifying thought. And it is unacceptable that human extinction is even on the table, we have to take it off the table and ensure that future generations live in a beautiful world for a very long time. And what is so exciting, actually, is we know how to do that, we know how to secure the future, we have the solutions, they are on the shelf: renewable energy, bio-mimicry, even basic conservation. These things can help us reduce our human footprint on the planet. If we continue with business as usual, we are really taking away future generations' ability to sustain themselves. They will not have food, they will not have energy. They will have polluted water, and polluted air. Reproduction wil become difficult. It was a shock for us that human extinction become a theme throughout the interviews, so to be clear, we didn't go into to this project thinking about human extinction ...

Here are five important stories that highlight the planetary state of emergency that Conyers, Petersen and Dicaprio warn of in The Eleventh Hour.

From the plains of Africa to the Artic sea ice, the reports are increasingly disturbing:

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) says climate change is to blame for increasing conflicts between humans and wildlife across East Africa, and is heightening the risk that animal diseases will spread. ... SciDev.Net, 8-17-07

There was less sea ice in the Arctic on Friday than ever before on record, and the melting is continuing, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported. ...
The puzzling thing ... is that the melting is actually occurring faster than computer climate models have predicted.
Associated Press, 8-17-07

There is increased concern about the impact of aviation:

The aviation industry may be more damaging to the environment than widely thought because aircraft not only release carbon dioxide but they also produce other harmful gases that warm the earth, experts said.

 A tented camp of about 250 climate protests at London's Heathrow airport this week highlights pressures to include aviation in a global pact to fight global warming. Alistair Doyle, Reuters, 8-15-07

Meanwhile, U.S. automakers are still procrastinating. They are spending their money organizing rallies in the midwest (Chicago and St. Louis) to protest a proposed federal fuel economy standard, which would set a 35 mile-per-gallon (mpg) fleetwide average target for 2020. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the auto industry is backing a feeble counter proposal that would save approximately 180 million barrels of oil in 2020 (which is what we currently consume in about nine days), and is significantly weaker than Bush-Cheney's own faux goal of saving 8.5 billion gallons of gasoline in 2017.

According to a recent UCS analysis, fully implementing the 35 mpg target would:
· save drivers $25 billion at the pump in 2020, above and beyond the cost of the technology (at the 2006 average gas price of $2.55, in 2005 dollars)
· generate 22,300 jobs in the auto industry and a total of 170,800 new jobs nationwide in 2020 (for the UCS analysis, go to [click here]
· cut 206 million metric tons of global warming pollution in 2020 alone—equivalent to taking more than 30 million of today's average cars and trucks off the road
· save 1.2 million barrels of oil per day—equivalent to the amount of oil the United States now imports from Saudi Arabia daily
Union of Concerned Scientists, 8-16-07

In his diary at Daily Kos, Glenn Hurowitz quotes the NYT's Nicholas Kristof on a recent encounter with Al Gore, and raises a provocative question:

Kristof: I ran into Al Gore at a climate/energy conference this month, and he vibrates with passion about this issue — recognizing that we should confront mortal threats even when they don’t emanate from Al Qaeda.
"We are now treating the Earth’s atmosphere as an open sewer," he said, and (perhaps because my teenage son was beside me) he encouraged young people to engage in peaceful protests to block major new carbon sources.
"I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers," Mr. Gore said, "and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants."
Hurowitz: Say it, Al! But it's not just young people who need to do it - everyone needs to join in, starting with you. Shutting down coal plants, blockading palm oil importers like Imperium Renewables and other rainforest destroyers, and stopping work at oil refineries could move the climate debate beyond just personal action and put the spotlight squarely on the big polluters who are the real culprits behind the problem.
This could be Al Gore's Gandhi moment (especially appropriate for a Nobel Peace Prize nominee).
Daily Kos, 8-16-07

To sign the Live Earth Pledge, click here.

Click here for access to great promotional tools available on The Eleventh Hour action page.

Want to wake people up to the US mainstream news media's complicity in misinforming the public on global warming and climate change? Click here for Media Matters' compilation of "Myths and Falsehoods about Global Warming".

Want to participate in the effort to mitigate the impact of global warming? Download "Ten Things You Can Do"

Want to join hundreds of thousands of people on the Stop Global Warming Virtual March, and become part of the movement to demand our leaders freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions now? Click here.

For a directory of Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates, click here.

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