Tony and I just saw the Al Gore Movie, officially known as "An Inconvenient Truth," and I was blown away. That guy rocks a slide presentation! I happen to be editing a book on PowerPoint, and I'm wondering if I can get Al to write the foreword for us.
Actually, in the movie, Al uses Keynote, the Apple version of PowerPoint (he's on the Apple board of directors). And the credits list not one, but two Apple-supplied Keynote advisors, not to mention a boatload of animators and other techies who provided the stunning effects for the presentation Al gives during the movie. Come to think of it, the slide show--which is the central element of the movie--may have had more people credited than the film itself. Still, Al did a terrific job of giving the presentation before a live audience, and as our book counsels, he uses the slides to support himself rather than the other way around.
Anyway, as you know, "An Inconvenient Truth" explains the crisis of global warming and calls on us to take responsibility for reversing what is already a deadly trend. Going in, I was a bit skeptical that the movie would be a shrill sermon preaching to the choir (of which I'm already a member). But Al makes his points simply and clearly, with none of the dogmatism of, say, Michael Moore. And while the message is frightening, Al also gives hope, illustrating the impact of both personal and political change. Tony and I left the theater energized to save energy (or, more accurately, reduce our CO2 emissions).
Lately, Tony's been needling me to revive this blog and to start blogging about alternative energy (a strong interest of mine), too. And I've been needling him to turn off the fucking lights when he leaves a room. So we hit a relationship goldmine when we agreed that we'd do more to save energy, and I'd blog it. Consider yourself notified: This site is now poised to become a movie review blog/household energy report. A match as delicious as peanut butter and chocolate.
OK, so here's a quick inventory of our energy use (I'll provide more analysis of the positives and negatives in future posts):
- My commute is a CO2 slaughter. I drive about 400 miles a week, in a car that is 17 years old. It passes CA smog inspection, but I'll tell you this: its fumes don't smell nice.
- Since I moved to this coast, I've been flying a lot. About four short or medium RTs a year and six cross-country.
- We have far more than our fair share of appliances and electronic devices that are always on. From the sofa alone, I can see eight things that suck energy almost all the time (two laptops, and Airport connector, DVD player, cable box/DVR, GameCube, Xbox, telephone; the tv might have some stealth thing, too, that drains electricity around the clock). We have eight more rooms, each with multiple electric items.
- In the winter, we like lighting fires in the fireplace.
- Our house is mostly uninsulated.
+ We have mostly compact flourescent bulbs around the house.
+ Tony works from home most days = no commute.
+ We don't have central air conditioning.
+ We don't use the heat a lot, and when we do, we keep it pretty low.
+ We buy a lot of locally grown food.
+ We recycle (I'm kind of obsessive about it, actually), and we buy recycled-paper products when feasible.
+ We have solar panels on the roof that we believe heat our water at least some of the time.
Places we can improve our energy use in the short- or medium-term:
+ Find out what the deal is with the hot water heating system and perhaps boost use of solar panels.
+ I've been planning to buy a new car. This is a whole saga, and I'll save it for another post.
+ I recently read a story in Make about installing a wind turbine on your roof to provide household power. Why not?
+ We can plant trees around the yard.
+ We can offset our CO2 load.
We're going to try to reduce our energy bill (on the assumption that it's a reflection of our CO2 emissions, though we need to learn more about this). I'll write another post to analyze our bills so far.
Meantime, here are my ratings of "An Inconvenient Truth" on a scale of 1 - 10:
* Shoes: 0. But the movie does make me wonder which contributes less to global warming: the production of leather shoes or synthetic shoes.
* Dogs: 1. Al talks about having had a dog as a child, making him seem like a dog guy. None appears in the film.
* Poker: 0. But continuing to ignore global warming is a huge gamble against the odds.
* Cell phones: 3. Al uses his Treo during the movie; no phones rang in the theater. (In the downtown Mill Valley theater, an usher usually chirps up before each movie, reminding you to turn off your phone. They blew it off for this screening, so I'd say we got lucky that I remembered to silence mine.)
* Do things blow up? 7. Glaciers collapse spectacularly and at an alarming rate. Tony reminds me that there was also some footage of a nuclear bomb detonating.
If you haven't seen "An Inconvenient Truth" yet, emit some carbon dioxide and get yourself to a theater. (If you want to read more about the movie, my friends Marc and Judy have posted thought-provoking reviews.) Then tune in next time for an energy-saving update.