Friday, April 7, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

So this week was a rather interesting one. Google has these things called tech talks which are presentations made with the sole purpose of educating Googlers on just about any topic you can imagine. As you would expect, several of these talks are very deep computer science type discussions (i.e. Smoothed-Dirichlet Distribution: A New Generation Building Block), but they actually cover a variety of topics, and outside speakers are encouraged. There are usually two to three tech talks being given every day, and it would be very easy to do nothing else than attend tech talks full time.

Today I attended a talk called "An Inconvenient Truth" presented by the honourable Al Gore (yes...that Al Gore). I have heard several people describe Al Gore as a boring speaker, but his talk today was one of the best talks I have ever been to. The man is articulate, intelligent, funny and can think on his feet. He spoke for about 90 minutes on the effects of what he calls the climate crisis, and I was riveted the entire time. He then answered questions for 30 minutes afterwards, and gave good direct answers. His ability to speak well, answer unprepared questions, and sound coherent was in sharp contrast to the members of the current administration. He even pronounced nuclear correctly. He received multiple standing ovations from a packed room of about 600 people.

More important than how he spoke though, is what he spoke about. Mr. Gore considers global warming and the climate crisis to be "the biggest challenge this species has ever faced" and if 1/10th of the information that he presented today is true, I find it hard to argue with him. I can't begin to tell you a fraction of the information that he told us about, but I can tell you how to get your hands on it. They have actually turned his presentation into a movie that will be released in May called "An Inconvenient Truth". Please click here for the trailer. The film is based directly on the presentation I saw today, and I'm sure you will find it as fascinating as I did. The facts are simple to understand, and the truth that Gore speaks couldn't be clearer. Gore is also releasing his presentation as a book and all funds from both the movie and the book will be going directly to Climate Crisis . The website is not much to look at right now, but will be evolving rapidly. Also, copies of this film are going to be delivered free to every science class in America.

Please spread the word about this movie. Blog about it, talk about it, convince your friends to go see it. Find the most skeptical person you can, drag them to it, and then get them to discuss it. This is not a Michael Moore style documentary. Gore is not attacking anyone nor is he preaching. He is just trying to make people see that there is a problem and that we must do something about it. There are very few things that I get passionate about, but this talk really moved me.

The other talk I attended this week was given by Dr. James Watson on DNA and the brain. You may know Dr. Watson as one of the co-discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule along with Francis Crick. Sadly I was a little disappointed in this talk. Dr. Watson didn't really go much into his research into DNA and the brain (the so called nature vs nurture dispute) which would have been fascinating, instead spending more time rambling from one topic to the next. His talk about his research years with Crick were interesting, and his passion regarding research into autism is obvious, but he sounded and looked unprepared for the talk. He is obviously a man with very strongly held viewpoints though, and he is definitely not afraid to be "politically incorrect".


Mary said...

This is a movie that I want to see. How wonderful that you get this type of 'in service' education! You do have an amazing job.

emd said...

Just don't read Michael Crichton's latest as he attempts to debunk the whole global warming theory.