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Wednesday, June 28, 2006 07:14 pm

Beat the heat

Global-warming documentary hits close to home

Al Gore went from flying on Air Force Two to having to take off his shoes before getting on a plane. Since losing in 2000, the former vice president of the United States has stayed busy by launching a cable network, working for tech giants Apple and Google, teaching, and delivering speeches around the world.

His latest project, An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary examining the global-warming crisis, premiers in Springfield on Friday, June 30.

In Truth, Gore — who quips that he “used to be the next president of the United States” — lays out the science of global warming and takes jabs at the oil and coal industries, which, he says, refuse to hear evidence that the burning of fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide, which causes global warming.

That’s especially true in Illinois, according to Environment Illinois, a Chicago environmental-advocacy group. According to a report the group released last week, carbon dioxide emissions here increased to 32.8 million metric tons between 1990 and 2001.

This makes Illinois sixth among the states in carbon dioxide emissions — a “primary global warming pollutant” — and coal combustion accounts for 40 percent of Illinois’ carbon dioxide emissions, the report finds.

Environmentalists have singled out coal-fired power plants as one of the leading contributors to global warming, and downstate Illinois has a lot of ’em.

City Water, Light & Power, the city-owned utility company, is building a new 250-megawatt plant, pending approval of the necessary permits. Plans are also in the works for a 777-megawatt plant in nearby Taylorville.

Altogether, Illinois has 23 power plants that run on coal and another 15 slated for construction, according to the Illinois Sierra Club.

Although CWLP officials have said that the new facility will feature cutting-edge environmental protections, the members of the Sangamon Valley Group of the Sierra Club have been working to increase public awareness about the health risks associated with the burning of coal, as well as educate the public on alternate energy solutions and the threat of global warming.

Immediately after the 7:30 p.m. screening, the SVG will hold a discussion and raffle at Mariah’s Restaurant (3317 Robbins Rd., 217-793-1900) with the newly formed Clean Energy Springfield.

“I hope [the movie] will generate more local discussion about what we can do to reduce global warming both in our private lives and in public policy,” says Will Reynolds, an SVG member.

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