An Inconvenient Truth was a privately made propoganda film. Like bowling for columbine, or fahrenheit 911. It is a film devoted to creating panic, and swaying the public opinion for a private agenda.
The problem with these films is that they do not tell both sides of the story and they leave impressionable minds with deep impressions. I am not qualified to argue the other side of the story, but here are a few things I've read about which point to the other side.
1. Al Gore credibility
Al Gore's energy use is through the roof: "In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006."
[about.com: al gore]
His zinc mine, he makes $20,000 per month off of polluting nashville.
"The issue here is not simply Gore's hypocrisy; it's a question of credibility. If he genuinely believes the apocalyptic vision he has put forth and calls for radical changes in the way other people live, why hasn't he made any radical change in his life? Giving up the zinc mine or one of his homes is not asking much, given that he wants the rest of us to radically change our lives."
[usatoday.com: al gore]
2. Global temperature: hockey stick or cyclical?
Effects of CO2 emissions are not in doubt by the media, but are among certain groups of scientists. You see there is the problem with the hockey stick effect. People assume the global temperature will continue to increase indefinately, because we only have solid data from the past 150 years of climate data. If we were to graph global temperatures, and then extrapolate into the future, the appearance would be that of a hockey stick (being relatively flat for a while, and then ever increasing). That brings us to the Medieval warm period which hints towards 800 year climate cycles.
Note: I went to wikipedia's [wikipedia: medieval warm period] page and someone stuck in a graph that ended in 2000 that showed a strong hockey stick extrapolation to forward someone's agenda. However I also saw info talking about Alaska's well documented cycles: "Alaska experienced three time intervals of comparable warmth: A.D. 1–300, 850–1200, and post-1800." hinting towards the 400 years of hot followed by 400 years of cold cycle.
3. Medieval Warm Period
[bioone.org: academic paper]
Temperatures back from 900-1300 AD were as high as they are today. In my history class we discussed that idea that global climate is cyclical over hundreds of centuries (400 years of warmth followed by 400 of cold). After 1300 AD historians say europe went through a little ice age (it is well documented). While information is seemingly limited they are able to use all kinds of data to estimate climate from back them, tree rings, solar activity analysis, ice core chemical analysis, and many other things. One climate analysis we discussed in my history class was the well documented growing seasons for vineyards. Look at this map I found showing vineyards in europe: [vinatique.com: image]. You can see that england and many nordic countries are currently too cold to grow grapes, yet England and the others are proud of their medeival warm period vineyards.
I guess what I'm trying to say is:
There are two sides to every story, people who watch 'Inconvenient Truth' should watch it with a grain of salt, considering the other side of the story too. To not look at the other side of any story is non-academic. I hope i never attend a court of law where the jury only hears the prosecution.
Global warming seems to be to be a big band wagon that the liberal media likes everyone to jump into. Over-regulation of industrial production results in companies that can't afford to pay their bills and then they have to lay everyone off, and then the media will get mad at them again for layoffs. I personally have mixed feelings on global warming. I think there is risk potential and I am neither an advocate nor an opponent.
Western industrialized countries have come a long way. Where I live in the USA if my car pollutes too much I can't register it or drive it (I have to get an annual emissions check). Technology has always been improving with regards to vehicle emissions: I don't think anyone wants to drive a gas guzzler these days especially with increasing gas prices. People don't mind having lower electricity bills, and people don't mind switching to compact fluorescent bulbs, they pay for themselves.
I think rather than focusing on all of our efforts on emissions of western countries, we need to focus more on environmental issues in developing countries like china and india. The USA government has made huge strides over the last 30 years towards environment protection, setting up numerous agencies, regulating the industry and even devotes huge sums of money towards reclamation, and forcing offending parties to participant in reclamation [wikipedia.org: CERCLA] and [wikipedia.org: env law].
At this time, countries like China are polluting to the max. Their government doesn't care about pollution as long as industries are helping the economy. I talked to a woman from china and she told me that if you walk around in her city, your collar would get black from air pollution and air particulate.
Canada, the USA, Australia and other western countries have all made environmental mistakes as they have learned about the environment and science has developed over the last century. Their role at this time needs to be to educate ministers of developing countries including china and india and show them how poor environmental regulation is far more costly in the long run (see usa's superfund[wikipedia.org: superfund]).