An Inconvenient Truth

The global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth has not only got a powerful message but it has now also managed to win an Oscar. Naturally being a politician Al Gore must expect to see this bring new attacks. I came across this Gary Varvel cartoon which is a brilliant example of balancing ideology and strategy (more on this below but first the cartoon). Don’t get me wrong – An Inconvenient Truth is an important documentary and the recognition of an Oscar only helps to promote it’s important message on global warming.

On ideologies and strategies

A few days ago Stellan Vinthagen were discussing the problem of awareness, activism and the need to travel to meet people. The crunch of the dilemma is this:

Most activists are concerned about the environment (not only environmentalists). Yet to be able to carry out effective activism international cooperation is necessary. International cooperation requires travel (despite the Internet and its ilk). Therefore people who are concerned about the environment need to travel.

So how does one reconcile ones ideologies and strategies? In other words if the ideology is about making the world a better place (and travel has a negative impact on this – especially air travel), and the strategy requires international collaboration (which requires travel).

In addition to this is it worse to harm the environment intentionally or unintentionally? Causing intentional harm is most often seen as being far more wrong than unintentional harm (but not always).

Imagine two people (A and B) on a low-budget airplane bound for London. A is traveling to go shopping he/she is unaware of the effects of travel on the environment and is only vaguely aware of global warming. We do not know if A would care about the environment even if he/she was informed about the issues. B is traveling to an international meeting of environmental activists. He/she is greatly concerned about the effects of air travel on the environment but hopes that this meeting will provide an opportunity for more coordinated actions to bring about real changes to help the environment. A will also go shopping in his/her spare time in London.

A therefore is causing unintentional harm but traveling for frivolous reasons. B is causing intentional harm but hopes this is for a good cause. Is there a difference? Does the environment care about the intentions of its destroyers?

Stellan and I did not arrive at any real conclusions in our discussions we just recognized that it is a problem…

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