Monday, May 05, 2008

An Inconvenient Truth: inquiry into the collision between humans and their earth

Cross Lake, Shreveport
Originally uploaded by trudeau
From the movie An Inconvenient Truth (it began as Al Gore's book called Earth in the Balance), which we are watching in class this week:

The fundamental outline of the climate crisis story: the relationship between human civilization and the Earth has been utterly transformed by a combination of factors, including the population explosion, the technological revolution, and a willingness to ignore the future consequences of our present actions.

The underlying reality is that we are colliding with the planet’s ecological system, and its most vulnerable components are crumbling as a result.

In every corner of the globe — on land and in water, in melting ice and disappearing snow, during heat waves and droughts, in the eyes of hurricanes and in the tears of refugees — the world is witnessing mounting and undeniable evidence that nature’s cycles are profoundly changing.

An Inconvenient Truth discussion questions -

1.What in the film -- a fact, an image, a story -- triggered a strong reaction for you? What feelings did it evoke?
2. The film has lots of information. What was your overall feeling at the end of it, or as you think back to the full effect? How does that feeling shape what you want to do next?
3. What sort of world do you want to leave for future generations? How has the film shaped your awareness of the importance of the question?
4. Sen. Gore mentioned that it can be easy for people to jump from denial to despair. Where do you find hope that allows you to face this problem – in personal or community action, the rightness of the cause, affirmation from your friends, etc? )
5. What did you learn from watching the film that you didn't know before -- or that is more compelling for you now?
6. Why is the science important to you? Do you want proof that climate change is happening and that humans are having a decisive impact? Do you look to science for predictions about what might happen under different situations?
7. What information in the film made climate change more real to you? Or, why was it not compelling?
8. What made the information in the film trustworthy for you, or what made you question the information? What characteristics of the research, the data, and the people presenting it influenced your trust levels?
9. Not all people look to science as the ultimate authority. What sort of sources would be most compelling and trustworthy for you in considering the problem of climate change? Would testimony from business leaders or religious authorities have more credibility?
10. The story of "doubting Thomas" in the Bible tells of someone who had a hard time believing the "unbelievable" fact of the resurrection. Is some ways, climate change is as much of a challenge to our experience and thinking, with an event that we've never seen or imagined before. What sort of proof do you need to make the facts compelling and believable? (When Thomas finally believed, his life was changed. What does it mean for us when we accept the reality of climate change?)
11. In the US Declaration of Independence, the authors wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident …" Even though King George didn't accept that all people are created equal, the authors of the Declaration indicated that they didn't consider those "truths" to be open to debate. When is it appropriate to assert that the truth of climate change is "self-evident"?
12. What standard of evidence is necessary or appropriate before taking dramatic action on climate change? By way of analogy, should a hurricane evacuation be ordered only if it is absolutely certain that it will strike a city? When a sweeping economic policy is being launched, is there an expectation that there must be consensus among economic experts?
13. How do those of us who are not experts in climate science sort out the reliability of the research? How do we know who and what to trust?
14. Sen. Gore says that climate change is a "moral issue" as well as a technical and political one. What difference does it make if we approach it from a moral perspective?
15. Why should students, in particular, be concerned about climate change? Does the climate crisis have anything to do with our future and ethics?

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