Dear Inconvenient Sequel, please meet Convenient Sequestration
I enjoyed seeing Al Gore’s new movie, An Inconvenient Sequel, and of course came away with newly stoked passion to Do Something about the whole climate problem…above and beyond starting a large scale reforestation organization. One of the first Somethings is to write this review, so here it is.
The “Climate Problem” is a big one, and like most big problems it’s really a tangle of many only-slightly-less-big problems, akin to a multi-headed hydra. These heads interact, of course, with an awful lot of complicated back and forth, but for the sake of discussion let’s say that there are three main heads, and that they are:
- Emissions of greenhouse gasses (specifically CO2)
- Efficiency, or the lack thereof
- Sequestration, also or the lack thereof
Emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, farming techniques, and also now from warming oceans that are releasing CO2 at a faster rate than ever (as well as other causes). The movie does a good job touching on all of these points, but focuses mainly on the burning of fossil fuels, which is understandable. Mr. Gore’s focus seems to be promoting alternative and sustainable energy sources wherever and whenever possible, with the goal of slowing significantly the mega-transfer of carbon-in-the-ground to carbon-in-the-air.
To this we say: “Onward! Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more!”
However…I may have missed it but there was no mention of the need for the acceleration of efficiency measures, i.e. I don’t recall hearing the word “efficiency” uttered at all.
Similarly, no mention of what should be done regarding CO2 sequestration, i.e. getting out of the atmosphere what’s been put in over the past few hundred years. Again, if the words “atmospheric carbon reduction” were uttered I missed them as well.
To be fair, it’s understood that one needs to pick one’s battles, and tackling all three insipid hydra-heads at once would quite possibly lead to despair. But this I say to our former Vice President, with all due respect:
The term ‘nega-watts’ refers to energy not used, i.e. efficiency, and megawatts refers to energy that is generated and used. The reality is that the cleanest most sustainable megawatt will always be dirtier than any nega-watt. For example, LEDs are now being deployed as lighting upgrades in commercial buildings at a rapid rate, which is a good thing since they use ~80% less electricity than commonly installed solutions. However, over 90% of commercial buildings in the US are still using old technologies. What about helping to accelerate this uptake?
Then of course there’s sequestration, i.e. increasing the rate at which CO2 is reabsorbed back into the soils (where it is desperately needed). Since that’s what ForestPlanet is all about – at least partially all about – it would have been nice to have seen some recognition, even just a comment or two, acknowledging this particular hydra head.
Besides, planting trees is way easier, and more convenient, than taking on entrenched fossil fuel interests.
Regardless, we hope you’ll take the time to check out the movie, as there are cool segments of behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing at COP21, great points made by members of the developing world, roll-your-eyes comments made by the usual suspects, excellent connections made between climate issues and social unrest (to wit. Syria), beautiful new images of Earth from space, and plenty of areas where progress is being made.
And when you do see the movie, please add a review below and we’ll gladly continue the dialogue…when convenient.