62 pages • 2 hours readAl Gore
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“I also want to convey my very strong feeling that what we are facing is not just a cause for alarm, it is paradoxically also a cause for hope. As many know, the Chinese expression for ‘crisis’ consists of two characters side by side. The first is the symbol for ‘danger,’ the second the symbol for ‘opportunity.’”
In the Introduction to An Inconvenient Truth, Gore calls global warming a “true climate emergency” (10) and wants to make sure readers understand the urgency and the bipartisan nature of the issue at hand. Rather than focusing completely on negative consequences and problems, however, he wants to remind readers that every crisis offers possibilities as well as hazards. The dangers include the loss of species, deforestation, and changing relationships between the Earth and the sun. Opportunities, however, include new jobs, new profits, clean energy, and a feeling of purpose—what Gore calls a “generational mission” and “the opportunity to rise” (11). He believes society has come to a crossroads and a challenge that, if properly met by humans, can determine the future and growth of the human race.
“Global warming, along with the cutting and burning of forests and other critical habitats, is causing the loss of living species at a level comparable to the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. That event was believed to have been caused by a giant asteroid. This time it is not an asteroid colliding with the Earth and wreaking havoc; it is us.”
Here is one of the central theses of the book, controversial at the time and still, to some extent, now. Gore makes this statement in the Introduction, with no equivocation. Global warming is causing species loss, and it is caused by humans, he says. Humans are in the middle of a major planetary event, what scientists today call the Sixth Extinction, a the period of the Anthropocene (a geological age that is marked by human dominance affecting earth processes).