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On this day in 2006: Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth premieres at Sundance Film Festival

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Seven years ago today, former US vice-president Al Gore’s documentary film about global warming – An Inconvenient Truth – premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Since then, it has become one of highest grossing documentaries of all time, won two Academy Awards and turned into a seminal film for the environmental movement.

Directed by Davis Guggenheim, the film seeks to educate the viewer about the threat of climate change and its consequences. Raking in $24m, it is the ninth highest grossing documentary in US history.

The film, which revolves around a talk and PowerPoint presentation given by Gore, made its way to the silver screen after producer Laurie David saw it and felt inspired to give it wider coverage. A viewer’s review of the film on the New York Times website said it may also be “the first widely distributed PowerPoint film”.

Since its release, An Inconvenient Truth has been praised for raising international awareness of climate change. It has become essential viewing for environmentalists (and non-environmentalists) and is shown to children in schools across the world.

Throughout the film, Gore presents facts and figures that he says he has used hundreds of times before. To ensure he grasps the interest of different audiences, he uses beautiful satellite images of the Earth, detailed graphs and even a clip from Futurama to illustrate the greenhouse effect.

Throughout his slideshow, he discusses global temperatures and atmospheric carbon patterns, and demonstrates how carbon levels over the past 20 years have been at their highest since 600,000 years ago. Earlier this month, levels hit 400 parts per million – the highest on record for at least three million years.

Gore’s predictions regarding climate change turn into a rallying cry to protect our environment.

“It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly, and wisely”, he says.

“We have everything, save perhaps political will. But in America, I believe political will is a renewable resource.”

He adds, “Future generations may well have occasion to ask themselves, ‘What were our parents thinking? Why didn’t they wake up when they had a chance?’ We have to hear that question from them, now.”

Throughout the film, we follow Gore’s experiences in spreading the climate change message. We hear about his college education at Harvard University with early climate expert Roger Revelle, and about his sister’s death from lung cancer.

Some viewers will claim that global warming is a myth, but Gore’s argument is compelling. A recent comprehensive study of over 4,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers found almost unanimous consensus that humans are responsible for rising temperatures.

Gore says that the loss of major ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica would result in global sea levels increasing by 20 feet, and turn 100 million people climate refugees. Others have also raised predictions on the consequences of seal level rise. Recently, climate research group Ice2sea found that the impacts of melting ice sheets and glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland could raise sea levels by 36.8cm by 2100. This level would overpower and flood the Thames barrier in London every 10 years.

An Inconvenient Truth’s commercial success mirrors its critical acclaim, with viewers flocking to heap praise on Gore’s delivery of the climate change message.

One reviewer on Amazon said, “This film entreatingly shows the truth about the biggest threat to human civilisation that has ever existed in modern history. It is essential that everybody sees this film. I have never been so shaken by anything in my life.”

Another said, “An amazing and gob-smacking account of global warming and its real impacts delivered by a fantastic orator.”

However, not all watchers were satisfied with the way Gore delivered his message.

One negative Amazon reviewer said, “Gore comes across in the slideshow more as charismatic entertainer than a committed advocate.”

Meanwhile, another wrote, “This is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Facts, conjecture and deliberate misinformation are all mixed up in order to confuse and scare the viewer.”

Gore served as the 45th vice-president in the US, and has been engaged with environmentalism since 1976. At that time, he was a freshman congressional representative, and led one of the first congressional hearings on climate change while co-sponsoring hearings on toxic waste.

During the 1980s, Gore continued to spread environmental messages, including the need for preserving clean air and water. Known as an Atari Democrat, he is appreciated as one of the world’s greenest politicians ever.

He is the founder of a number of non-profit organisations, including the Alliance for Climate Protection – a group committed to educating about the urgency of climate change solutions. He is also an advocate of incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria within investment. Through his investment firm, Generation Investment Management, Gore looks to inspire business leaders to engage in ‘sustainable capitalism’.

All these achievements and more led him to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

An Inconvenient Truth is a must-see film. It gives a detailed overview of climate change; not by scaremongering, but through the delivery of facts. However, it’s important that its critical and commercial success translates into a win for the planet – the one humans are destroying, and the only one we have.

Further reading:

Al Gore’s most important talk ever

George Osborne is ‘seriously misinformed’ on sustainable business, says Al Gore

Al Gore: sustainability adds realism to investment

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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