On Thursday, April 30th from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Big Picture Theater in Waitsfield, Sharon resident Dee Gish will deliver an educational slideshow on climate change, updating the information presented in the film “An Inconvenient Truth.” Ms. Gish, one of 1,000 Americans personally trained by Nobel Laureate Al Gore to spread the message about the challenges of and solutions to the climate crisis, is connected with “The Climate Project”, a non-profit organization with the mission of increasing public awareness of the climate crisis at a grassroots level in the U.S. and abroad. The evening’s events will be presented by the Mad River Valley Interfaith Council and generously underwritten by Carbon Shredders and the Mad River Valley Rotary Club. There will also be an opportunity to learn more about the nearly twenty organizations who are making unique and particular efforts to provide a sustainable and hopeful future for our immediate and worldwide community. Waitsfield Cable’s channel 44 will be airing Al Gore’s original film, “An Inconvenient Truth” the week of April 19th, a week that includes “Earth Day” on April 22 – originally celebrated for the first time in 1970 by over twenty million people. The presentation is free of charge, there will be free CFL’s available, and a simple, affordable supper will be offered in the Big Picture Café prior to the event.
For further information, contact Amalia Veralli at 496-3162
Q. What is “The Climate Project,” and how did you get involved?
A. The Climate Project, a nonprofit organization based in Nashville, TN, began operations in June 2006 with the mission of increasing public awareness of the climate crisis at a grassroots level in the U.S. and abroad. By April 2007, a diverse group of 1,200 volunteers from throughout the U.S. had been trained by Al Gore himself to present a version of the slide show featured in the Academy Award-winning film An Inconvenient Truth. As of October 2008, we have delivered nearly 20,000 presentations and reached a combined audience of 2 million people. I was fortunate enough to get selected for the 5th training session in January, 2007. Since then, I’ve given over 30 presentations to varied audiences – from civic groups, churches, colleges and universities, and open public forums.
Q. When did you first see “An Inconvenient Truth,” and how did it impact you?
A. I actually read the book first, when it was first published in 2006. The book did not contain any information that particularly surprised me, since intuitively I knew just by casual observation that climate change/global warming was happening now, and at an alarming rate. The book did inspire me, however, to learn more, to see the film, and to sound the climate change alarm to anyone willing to listen. The most surprising thing, to me, about the book and the film, was how many people at the time were NOT willing to listen and to dismiss An Inconvenient Truth as politically motivated.
Q. To what extent have you yourself researched the conclusions surrounding anthropogenic climate change?
A. I try to keep on top of the latest research as it emerges. The Climate Project is great at providing internal notices and links to many relevant scientific studies. I have the NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Center), GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies), UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists) and other research sites bookmarked on my web browser and refer to them often. I’ve also tried to beef up my basic ecological knowledge base by reading environmental classics like Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Bill McKibben’s The End of Nature, and I’m currently reading Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman. I am neither an climate expert, nor a scientist, however, and so also truly appreciate mainstream sources on climate change such as National Geographic and Scientific American.
Q. How do you respond to critics who suggest that global warming is caused by sunspots, or other non-human-caused phenomena?
A. There are definitely historical cycles to warming and cooling periods of the earth. For example, every 40,000 years, the tilt of the earth on its axis changes by nearly 1 degree, then back again. This small change in the tilt of earth’s axis has corresponded with some of the conclusions of the 100,000 year ice age cycles. We are currently in one of these interglacial, cyclical warming periods, with the last ice age ending nearly 11,000 years ago. The dramatic rise in global average temperatures that we have seen especially in the last 30 years, however, falls well outside of any warming that scientists can explain by natural and cyclical phenonemon such as changes in the earth’s orbit, axis tilt, or sunspot activity. Skeptics also need to revisit their elementary school science concerning the greenhouse effect. There is not a single reputable scientist that does not agree that when greenhouse gases are increased in our atmosphere, higher temperatures will result. Greenhouse gasses, such as CO2, nitrous oxide, and methane, trap more of the sun’s infrared radiation that would otherwise radiate back into space. By burning fossil fuels and deforesting many areas of the planet, mankind has increased the level of CO2 in the atmosphere to 385 parts per million. The current level of CO2 in our atmosphere is much higher than any time in the past 650,000 years of earth’s history.
Q. What suggestions and solutions do you have for anyone interested in becoming involved in these issues?
A. Do not wait. Jump in with both feet. The climate crisis is such an immediate emergency. After educating yourself on the science behind climate change, the most effective (and simplest) thing individuals can do is to correspond with your elected officials and urge them to pass sweeping emissions reduction legislation. Write or call your local selectmen, State Representatives, Congressmen and Senators. Send them pictures of your children, write personal stories, tell them why you are concerned about global warming. Do whatever it takes to persuade them to initiate and vote for legislation that invests in energy efficiency, renewable energy, coal plant moratoriums, and CO2 emission reductions. Sign up with organizations such as The League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, 1Sky, 350.org, and Sierra Club. These organizations will notify you when an important piece of relevant legislation is coming to a vote. They will also prompt you to get involved with international, national and local environmental activities. 350.org, for example, is organizing an international day of activities on October 24, 2009, six weeks ahead of the world-wide climate negotiations in Copenhagen this December. 350.org wants everyone to understand that scientists believe the “safe” upper limit of CO2 in our atmosphere is 350 parts per million. This day of action is intended organize global citizens to call for a fair global climate treaty. You are welcomed and encouraged to be a part of the movement, by visiting www.350.org.