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On Earth Day, fuel for thought

Activist Laurie David issues a global warning alert in HBO's `Too Hot Not to Handle.'

April 22, 2006|Mark Sachs | Times Staff Writer

If you've got solar panels on your roof, "green" lightbulbs in your lamps and a Prius in the garage, Laurie David has no problem with you. It's all the other energy-sapping, gas-guzzling Americans she's out to convert, and the environmental crusader has put together a nice little Earth Day recruiting film aimed at doing just that.

David, the wife of HBO's house curmudgeon, Larry "Curb Your Enthusiasm" David, grabs an hour of the network's time tonight at 7 for the effectively scary (if awkwardly titled) global-warming warning, "Too Hot Not to Handle."

In an online interview for the documentary, on which she served as executive producer, David acknowledged that the issue's immense scope can make it difficult for people to relate to it on a personal level. With that in mind, "Too Hot" narrows the focus to how people in the U.S. are being affected by the "greenhouse effect" and the small but significant mitigation measures they might employ, both as individuals and with new, green-thinking corporate policies. Pointing to statistics that say Americans represent 5% of the world's population but generate 25% of its carbon dioxide emissions, the U.S. sounds like a good place to start.

Some have dismissed recent incremental upticks in global temperatures as being part of cyclical changes that are normal for the planet, but the documentary has assembled an array of science-field pundits who say a sea change is underway. They point to a doubling of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes since 1970 and claim that deaths from heat waves are expected to double by 2020. They provide dramatic photos taken at the same place in Alaska several years ago and then again recently that appear to reveal the stunning extent of glacial retreat. And they warn that the effects could accelerate beyond projections.

David, who in the online interview stresses the need for bipartisan support from politicians and points to support from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), includes in the documentary a quick swipe at the Bush administration, alleging inaction on the issue, but the film generally keeps the focus on people, not politics.

"The Stone Age ended not because we ran out of stones, but because there were better ways to live," says Richard Somerville of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography's Climate Research Division. "I think the Oil Age is likely to end -- if we're wise enough -- not because we've run out of oil, but because there are better ways to supply energy."


`Too Hot Not to Handle'

Where: HBO

When: 7 to 8 tonight

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