Here's Gregg Easterbrook at Slate on some inconsistencies in Al Gore's new documentary, An Inconvenient Truth:
Broadly, An Inconvenient Truth denounces consumerism, yet asks of its audience no specific sacrifice. "What I look for is signs we are really changing our way of life, and I don't see it," Gore intones with his signature sigh. As he says this, we see him at an airport checking in to board a jet, where he whips out his laptop. If "really changing our way of life" is imperative, what's Gore doing getting on a jetliner? Jets number among the most resource-intensive objects in the world.This is a point that seems to get lost in many arguments about energy consumption. We know for a fact that there is a direct correlation between energy consumption, GDP and life expectancy. But Gore and plenty of other environmentalists don't seem to want to come up with viable options to protect the environment while keeping electricity generation safe, affordable and widely available.
This raises the troubling fault of An Inconvenient Truth: its carelessness about moral argument. Gore says accumulation of greenhouse gases "is a moral issue, it is deeply unethical." Wouldn't deprivation also be unethical? Some fossil fuel use is maddening waste; most has raised living standards. The era of fossil energy must now give way to an era of clean energy. But the last century's headlong consumption of oil, coal, and gas has raised living standards throughout the world; driven malnourishment to an all-time low, according to the latest U.N. estimates; doubled global life expectancy; pushed most rates of disease into decline; and made possible Gore's airline seat and MacBook, which he doesn't seem to find unethical.
Thanks to Iain Murray for the pointers.
Technorati tags: Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Power, Energy, Electricity, Environment, Carbon, GHG, Global Warming, Climate Change, Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, Patrick Moore