...sine propero notiones

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Al gore presenting a CO2 concentrations chart
Al Gore presenting off-the-chart CO2
concentration predicitions for the next 50 years.
O Sapo Cozido
The frog being slowly cooked analogy, the same used by my friend Pedro Rezende in his

An Inconvenient But Present Truth

Rec 17-mar-2007 15:38

This morning I watched Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth". In one word: excellent!

He presents the subject in a very clear way and the slideshow is great. I identified myself with his presentation style. When I prepare my talks, I try to merge serious content and technical rigor with strategically placed jokes and dry humor; I try to make visually attractive slides (whose preparation take an absurd amount of work that many colleagues regard as a waste of my time) that convey the concepts using visual metaphors.

In the movie, the digressions about Gore's personal life and tragedies seemed a bit out of place. But I do understand the idea: try to make the audience relate with him, recognizing him as an ordinary man; however powerful he may have been, he's also rather powerless against life's hardships, natural disasters and many political and economic forces.

There are two quotes I particularly liked. The first is from Wiston Churchill:

The era of procrastination, of half-measures,
of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays,
is coming to a close.
In its place we are entering a period of consequences…

Just how many absurdities here in Brazil and around the world can that phrase be applied to...

Another great quote is from Upton Sinclair:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something
when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

This one applies to a wide number of people which, regardless of their intelligence, insist in doing what they know it's wrong because they have strings attached.

I also enjoyed the part with the credits intertwined with practical tips about what to do to quell/reverse global warming. Among things like "change you light bulbs by energy-efficient versions" (which most brazilians already did because of the countrywide 2001 electricity rationing), I see this one:

Write to Congress [demanding action against global warming]...
...if they don't listen,
run to Congress

If anyone has the authority to ask that from us, it is someone who has been there.

The movie set me thinking about my energy expenditures. Checking my bills, I found out that my household uses an average of 570 kWh/month. We use a lot of air conditioning here because of the increasingly hotter summers. There are two computers plus lots of electronics running 24x7, not to mention the refrigerator and the notebook computers. However, I seldom use the office air conditioner (with the windows open the temperature is bearable) and we are not in the habit of taking hot baths -- not rarely the internal temperature in some rooms here in my apartment exceeeds 30oC (86oF) -- so cold baths are actually very refreshing.

Even so, there is room for improvement. I estimate it must be possible to save at least 20% with little effort and a bit of finesse. I even built a smart timer to control some appliances where about which I will be talking about later.

But from the standpoint of global warming, our electricity consumption probably matters very little: in Brazil, most electric enery comes from hydroeletric power plants which do not produce greenhouse gases.

My CO2 emissions probably limit themselves to my car, a 70 hp Peugeot 206 1.0 16V. I had previously measured that it does about 10 km/l in the city and 14,5 km/l on the road (I use it with the air conditioner always on; did I mention it is hot here in Recife? Anyway, it yields 25% better mileage if I keep the air conditioner off). When I bought it, I heard it adhered to all recent standards for low emissions. But I remember having read that the catalytic converter handles only hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, but not carbon dioxide. Note to myself: get to know more about this.

Anyway, Gore's presentation has a chart showing that latin america is resposible by just about 4% of the total worldwide emissions. Most of it -- about 31% -- comes from the US. So, any improvements I do has a lot less impact that similar improvements made by americans.

Another thing that made me laugh was Al Goring using the Boiling Frog Syndrome analogy -- precisely the same that provides odd titles for a series of lectures my friend Pedro Rezende delivers.

Yet another point struck me as a demonstration of my own ignorance: I didn't know that a hurricane has hit Brazil in 2004.

It's a shame that copyrights don't allow me to post the movie here. There's a trailer in Google Video. But I recommend everyone to get it on DVD, visit the website and... do your part.

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