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When former American Vice President Al Gore came out with An Inconvenient Truth, his 2006 documentary on global warming, songwriter Jill Sobule sought to lighten up the message a bit. Her satirical lyrics went:

Strolling along in Central Park, everyone’s out today
The daisies and dogwoods are all in bloom, oh what a glorious day
For picnics and Frisbees and roller skaters, friends and lovers and lonely sun bathers
Everyone’s out and merry. Manhattan in January. …

Gore has followed that with another slide show, neither happy nor funny. He says, besides that the icecaps in the Arctic Ocean are melting, when global warming heats up the frozen ground around the Arctic Ocean, its frozen carbon thaws and is turned into methane by microbes, further exacerbating the problem.

“Compared to the total amount of global warming in the atmosphere,” says Gore, “that amount could double.”

Methane is already bubbling up out of the water in some shallow lakes in Alaska.

From there, consequences snowball, in the wrong direction. As annual melting-ice flows grow in volume – as is happening in the Antarctica, already in negative ice balance, in the Himalayas where new lakes are forming where glaciers used to be, in the Andes where flows take much of the drinking water with them, and in California, which has seen a 40% decline in the sierra snow patch – the earth dries. This results in increased fires, which have occurred four times as often in the last 30 years as had occurred in the previous 75.

“This is a completely unsustainable pattern,” says Gore.

But what to do? The biggest single cause of global warming, he claims, is the burning of fossil fuels, of which the USA is one of the two greatest contributors. He describes the political battle between the Alliance for climate protection and the oil and coal industries that promote “clean coal”, which Gore says is an oxymoron.

But like Sobule, he also has something upbeat to share. Gore sees a way to re-power America: through clean electricity, using wind and sun. Unwilling to accept summer weather in a New York January, Gore quotes an old African proverb: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We need to go far, quickly.”

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