Book Chat: An Inconvenient Truth in Very Few Words

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Patricia Dubroof:

It’s three o’clock. It’s time for Book Chat. I am Patricia Dubroof. I’m with Assisting Hands Home Care, where we provide certified nursing aid support for our community in both Montgomery County, Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia. We have people joining us sometimes on Book Chat from all over the world. So I just like to make sure that folks know why we’re doing this. So we believe very, very strongly in educating our community in all sorts of things. And during COVID, we decided that it would be really nice if we did something that was uplifting and fulfilling for our community. And so I’ve been searching out authors who don’t always get the big recognition, but who can provide us with insight into how they became an author, why they became an author, as well as the subject matter of their story. And today we are very honored to have Tim Truett with us who has created a book based on Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, which we all know was very lengthy in words.

Patricia Dubroof:

And his version is Haiku and Photography, and it’s quite dynamic. He hasn’t published yet, and he’s actually considering not publishing, but using it as a tool. But we’re going to talk about that a little bit more in the interview. So I’m going to go through a couple of slides and then we’re going to start looking at Tim’s work and learning more about Tim. So let me just get through my little intro as more people are coming in. So I love this picture. It’s a throwback, it’s my mom and dad’s wedding picture. My mom got married in a green suit and it was depression time.

Patricia Dubroof:

And I just like people to know that family is so important to me and honoring our elders vital in our society as far as I’m concerned. And so I got into the field of arts and I spend about 35 years working with elders who were using art as free medicine and creative engagement became a word knowledge among rec therapist, recreation therapists, and nursing home administrators. And I was invited to template some very exciting arts and projects around the Washington DC area and beyond including the VA Hospital and the Hebrew Home. And I own senior services. So now I come to home care Potomac with this need to provide more free medicine. And that’s what I see Book Chat does. We’re helping artists move forward in their authorship, but we’re also helping our community by giving you a dose of creative engagement. So free medicine today. That’s my treat to you all.

Patricia Dubroof:

And now let’s talk a little bit about Tim. So welcome, Tim. I’m going to make you a co-host. You can unmute. There you go. That way, we’ll probably stay lit up when people are having. And if everybody else can mute, that really helps just to avoid the extra sound. I am recording this and we’ll only use your picture if you give me permission. But for the most part, we just add these onto our website and let people come and visit and see what we did while they were doing other things. And then they can look at it anytime they want. We have a whole stockpile now of book chats, including Irene Shere. Who’s here with us today. Her book chat was quite fun about the care and feeding of the aging human male species. So we won’t get into that too. We promise. We’ll just move right into what inspired you to start this book. And that’s the piece that I’m showing everybody now. And that is that you want to say it in your own words. That’s fine. People can read this as well.

Tim Truett:

Okay. Sure. Well, I’d seen An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore’s movie when it first came out in theaters and I liked it. And more recently I saw it again on DVD. And what I noticed about it was that there were many ideas presented one after the other. And so to help me understand the ideas in the movie, I thought, well, I should make a statement of each of the main ideas. And about that time I started getting interested in poetry and haiku. Haiku is a form that has three lines, five syllables and seven syllables, and five syllables. I started another scene in An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore spoke enough, five or seven-syllable phrases that I noticed. And so I thought, Hmm, this could be the basis of a haiku.

Patricia Dubroof:

So had you written haiku before?

Tim Truett:

No, no. Well, I mean, maybe just a few.

Patricia Dubroof:

I mean, like in high school you learned what haiku was, and then it went on the back table or…

Tim Truett:

I might’ve encountered it then, but Montgomery College has a poetry group. I found them through a meetup group. I can’t remember the exact name of it now, but it’s run by a couple of people in the English department there. So I’d put together some haiku for that event.

Patricia Dubroof:

Oh, that’s great.

Tim Truett:

So, yeah. So…

Patricia Dubroof:

And then you married these haiku to photographs, which we’re all going to enjoy seeing in just a few minutes, but tell us about where the photographs came from. How did that happen?

Tim Truett:

Oh, well, some of them came from the movie, some I bought. Some are from government sources like NASA, where I don’t really need to do much to get permission to use them. Some I found via Google’s searches. And one of our reasons for not just going ahead with a book at this point is that I don’t actually know who the copyright on where somebody has images, but there is a provision in copyright law about fair use for educational purposes. And so after consulting my friend, who is a writer and in the publishing business, I think I’m okay to do educational-type things, which is fine because that’s really what I was trying to do in the first place.

Patricia Dubroof:

Yeah. So I think just to give a little more context before we jump into it, why don’t you tell everybody about your vision for how you’d like to use this now that it’s coalesced?

Tim Truett:

Okay. Well, it started as a personal project for me, and then I have the pictures then, this is not bad. So I think it could be used as an educational type source for a wide range of people, could be for students in schools, maybe people interested in activism. I am available to give the whole presentation. We won’t have time to go through all of them there. I think 79 haiku and 73 pages in the PowerPoint presentation. But I think I’ll probably be contacting people in schools, or if anybody audience has any ideas, I’d like to hear about that too. So basically-

Patricia Dubroof:

What do you hope to have people experience when they look at your work? Like any artists, we have these expectations. What’s something that you’d like the audience to go away with?

Tim Truett:

I would like them to remember some of the ideas and after I went through it, looking for the main ideas in Al Gore’s movie, I found that some of the main ones were the activities around the climate crisis action or inaction are essentially moral questions. And so that’s one idea of how people will go away with, and another is that probably the single biggest thing that people can do to affect the climate crisis because it’s a big problem on large scale is by simply voting because the leavers of government are one of the… is where people would have the most effect, I think. And maybe another idea is that the scientific and technological questions are no longer the main questions at this point. It’s more a matter of action. So, yeah.

Patricia Dubroof:

Well, that’s great. I’m going to put those in little bullets when we do the movie, so people can get that get away with things. I think that’s really great. Shall we take a look, everybody? Are you curious?

Tim Truett:

Sure.

Patricia Dubroof:

Okay. I have to stop sharing this screen and start sharing a different screen. So give me one technological moment to breathe.

Tim Truett:

Good. I’d like to start the first slide through the first 10, then we’ll start jumping around to some others if we have time.

Patricia Dubroof:

Sounds perfect. Okay.

Tim Truett:

Okay. Here we are. An Inconvenient Truth in Very Few Words. Okay. Death of denial in many minds at the same time, a transformation a new better world. Have you tried? Maybe you can. The birth of courage. Longing to return, to see feel, and breathe real peace. This is why I strive.

Patricia Dubroof:

That’s the one we used on our promo for this event.

Tim Truett:

Oh, okay.

Patricia Dubroof:

Raise of hands, how many people really connected with this one? I don’t know. This just seems so perfect for right now in our world. Breathe real peace. I love that.

Tim Truett:

Bad things getting worse. We see the changes coming. Predictable woe. Calls for big changes, the moral imperative. We cannot avoid it. To see more clearly, go out far and turn around. Look homeward, and see. Ground, then air, then space. How thin is the atmosphere? We can see through it.

Patricia Dubroof:

That’s such a great image.

Tim Truett:

Burning and burning, CO2 accumulates. We know what that means. Increase CO2, thermodynamics happens. Gets a lot hotter. I have a comment about this slide. This is a picture of Svante Arrhenius. He was a chemist. He’s well known to the chemist, and he was also, I think the first person to develop a quantitative relationship between CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and global average temperature. And so if you want to have fun with people, you can tell them that this happened. And this is basically a settled scientific question in ’96. And then you’d say 1896. The date of this paper is right up there at the top in April 1896. And another fun fact about him. Some of you may have heard of Greta Thunberg, or I think the Swedish would say but her father is named Svante and he’s named after this Svante who is a distant relative actually.

Patricia Dubroof:

Okay. That’s a great factoid. That would really ring true if you’re working with young adults teaching those, that would be a nice connector of… So do you want me to, oops, sorry? That inadvertent. Do you want me to go to a specific slide or do you want to…

Tim Truett:

Is this slide 25?

Patricia Dubroof:

No. That’s 13. You want me to go to 25?

Tim Truett:

Oh, well, this is a good one.

Patricia Dubroof:

I mean, they’re all great. And I don’t mind keep going. What is our audience feeling like? Are you enjoying the reading? Yeah. That looks like a positive.

Tim Truett:

Antarctic ice cores are a way to know what the temperature was in the past. Those little bubbles in the ice are little samples of what the atmosphere is like in some cases, hundreds of thousands of years ago. So that’s one of the ways we can know what the temperature was like before there were people walking around with thermometers, right? So the haiku. Bubbles trapped in the snow. The ice has stories to tell. Hot, cold, history. Well, we can read this one too. And then maybe we’ll go to 25.

Patricia Dubroof:

Okay. I like this one because it’s a little more like, I don’t know what the word is. The image is real lessening.

Tim Truett:

Yes. This is the sort of thing that a teacher could take and expand quite a bit on. Also in that ice core was frozen water and water is H2O. Oxygen comes in two isotopes, Oxygen-16, Oxygen-18. And how much of each varies with the temperature of the water that had evaporated from? So needless to say, they could take quite a bit more explanation. But if somebody was interested in it, they could do that. But the haiku is simply Oxygen-18, isotopic ratio. Ice thermometer.

Patricia Dubroof:

Good for you. I mean, that could be a whole poetry lesson for kids non-stop, kids and adults. That’s great. All right. So let me go back to-

Tim Truett:

Let’s try 25.

Patricia Dubroof:

Yep. Heading that way. It’s like getting a box of those candies, where everything in the box, every candy in the box is different and you want to try them all. That’s the way I feel about this book. It’s just, each one has such a… you captured so much information and the importance of it and then brought it into this concise haiku. I love haiku because of that. But so thank you, Tim.

Tim Truett:

All right? Okay. Arctic Antarctic. The canaries in the coal mine. What will happen now?

Patricia Dubroof:

So what is this image that we’re looking at?

Tim Truett:

It’s showing how much ice there was over the North Pole on two different dates.

Patricia Dubroof:

  1. Is that what it says? In 2012?

Tim Truett:

I think it might be 1980.

Patricia Dubroof:

Oh, okay. Right. Because they wouldn’t have had this in the ’30s.

Tim Truett:

They wouldn’t have this satellite imagery.

Tim Truett:

Right. And then 2012.

Patricia Dubroof:

Wow.

Tim Truett:

On the same day of the year or two, of course.

Patricia Dubroof:

Of course.

Tim Truett:

Yes. 1980. Okay.

Patricia Dubroof:

Wow.

Tim Truett:

And how do we react when again we hear warnings? We need to decide. We can go to the next one, which is 25. What do we do now? Make sure everybody knows. Speak the truth again. And we can go to the next slide 226, which has no haiku, but there are several people who have things to say about the climate crisis. Elon Musk, Arnold Schwarzenegger, of all people who would have predicted that, when he was making Conan The Barbarian, Greta Thunberg and Nicholas Stern, who’s an economist. Let’s try number 30, trying to be aware of the time. Earth, air, water, sun, a climate system it is. System laws apply. Our planet’s climate, a nonlinear system. Has big sudden jumps. What does all this mean? Big changes can happen fast. Bad news for farming.

Patricia Dubroof:

I work a lot in the field of cognitive challenges and we talk about how the changes can happen so quickly for someone to reach a different plateau. And in this case, the plateaus are really about the deficit, about the loss of cognition. And I never really connected it back to the Earth. But it’s so similar. They could stay in that plateau for a while, but then they’re going to drop again. And that’s what I’m seeing in this imagery. Beautiful.

Tim Truett:

Well, there are some things that change gradually and slowly and you change one thing and every other thing changes proportionally. But there are other systems where that’s not true and those will be non-linear systems. How about those 30? How about 34? Okay. Well, this is about feedback and feedback loops. The picture of the bottom does an amplifier and the electrical engineer would stay on missing some things in this diagram and I am… But the important point is that in this diagram with feedback, there’s a connection between the output of the amplifier at the pointy end of the triangle and the input and that drastically changes things. So for example, if you’ve heard Jimi Hendrix with his… Puts his guitar pickup next to the speaker, and that’s an example of feedback. So things can change when you have feedback like this. So the haiku are… The effect is a cause. More heat leads to yet more heat. Climate feedback loop, feedback loops like this. Unstable the system makes. Runaway greenhouse.

Tim Truett:

And on the left-hand side of this slide, I have examples of two climate feedback loops. There are actually many more, but one is about the polar ice where if the temperature goes up, the ice shrinks. So more of the dark see underneath is exposed, which absorbs heat more, which causes the temperature to go up. So that’s a feedback loop. Another one’s related to permafrost. The temperature goes up, permafrost melts, permafrost releases nothing. Nothing is also a greenhouse gas, which causes more heating, which causes more permafrost to melt. And so that’s the type of situation where a relatively small effect can end up having big results because the effect gets amplified by the feedback. And these are not the only two climate feedbacks also. So it’s just two examples.

Patricia Dubroof:

It’s interesting too, the way you’ve designed this page. The descriptions almost look like they could be haiku, I’m counting on my fingers.

Tim Truett:

Oh, okay. I hadn’t noticed that.

Patricia Dubroof:

Ice melts dark and the ocean exposed to the sun. Does that make a haiku?

Tim Truett:

Hmm. I don’t know. All right. Let’s try 44.

Patricia Dubroof:

It’s also the book that you really want to spend time with each page. It’s almost like it would make a lovely daily meditation calendar kind of thing to me.

Tim Truett:

And although it was skipping over, the pages are connected. They do together tell stories.

Patricia Dubroof:

They flow, I know.

Tim Truett:

Right. So here’s Greta Thunberg giving a harsh look to the United Nations Secretary-General. I really love this picture. So warnings must be heard. Speak so our leaders listen, respond to warnings. Say it like it is. A climate emergency. Action needed now. Let’s try 45. I might have to start skipping over a few. We’re getting close to time. Oh, here’s one with no pictures, deliberately. It’s clear what to do. We only need to do it. Break out of the pattern.

Patricia Dubroof:

So when you were writing these, it’s like the chicken and the egg. Did you have a, you said you jumped off of out Al Gore’s imagery and texts, but were there certain haikus that you created and they went, ah, this one, I need this photo or, Oh, this photo, I need this haiku, or like this where it’s crystal clear, you need nothing?

Tim Truett:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes. I felt free to do whatever I wanted. Okay. Let’s try straight 49 and 50. Patterns of the past, we can’t simply continue. Nothing stays the same. In the year 1900, all of these people would have been emperors. And now I think there’s still a Japanese emperor, but nobody listens to him. I mean, ships don’t move and armies don’t march based on what he says. But in 1900, there was an actual emperor of Austria, for example, but not anymore. So things do change. You’re now entering the Anthropocene epoch. Cannot continue making mistakes with Nature. Nature remembers. Time to be honest. We are a force of Nature. What kind will we be? All right.

Patricia Dubroof:

…time.

Tim Truett:

I’m almost out of time. Let’s jump to 68.

Patricia Dubroof:

Okay. And there’s nobody going to chase us off of here. So if we run over a few minutes, it’s okay.

Tim Truett:

Okay. And for the people on the call, Patricia had offered to record me reading these, and I think I will do that.

Patricia Dubroof:

Yeah. So we’ll have a little audio video, as well as this interview. I think it would make a nice package.

Tim Truett:

Great. So one of the things people commonly think when you hear about the climate crisis is, Oh, that sounds like a hard problem. It’s always a, yes it is. Are we capable of doing difficult things? Ancestors say yes. Like to see the next slide too, which is another example of ancestors doing difficult things. Actually, I just like to go from this slide through to the end.

Patricia Dubroof:

Okay. Sure. That’s perfectly fine.

Tim Truett:

Okay.

Patricia Dubroof:

I’m just going to switch to the-

Tim Truett:

Political will. No more ozone hole crisis. That’s how to do it. To solve the problem, use our political will. Yes, we can do that. Civilization, our ability to live that’s what is at stake. What kind of future? This is a moral question. Have hope, take action. If I could go back to the last slide for a second. One of the actions that people took after World War II to create the institutions shown at the bottom, which were basically world-changing radical thinking. And they were because they were highly motivated. They have seen how bad war could be. So it created the United Nations, NATO, European Union with The World Bank, and some others too. So we can go to the next one, I think. A window’s open. The future is visible. Is it what we want. Our children will ask What were you thinking? Hear that question now.

Patricia Dubroof:

So Tim, thank you for this. Do you consider yourself an activist? Have you worked in this field before? I mean, I know you don’t do this as your day job. You’re not an EPA person.

Tim Truett:

Right? I would say I’m not currently an activist. I have the ambition to do that. And so I’ve signed up for some training with Al Gore’s current organization, which is called the, Oh, what is it? The climate reality project. So I think once or twice a year, they hold some training, which this year will be online. In past years, has been in person, where they will basically train people to be activists. And since this is a big problem, the talents of a lot of people required in different talents too. And so regardless of what it is that you’re good at, or even can become good at, there’s probably a way for you to contribute to helping solve this problem.

Patricia Dubroof:

Yeah. I think you can consider yourself an activist because you wrote this book.

Tim Truett:

Okay. All right.

Patricia Dubroof:

I nod to that. I honor you humble, sir. But I was just curious. We grew up in the same world of activism and I was trained to be an activist back when the first earth day came around. I was licking stamps and sending out flyers for the first birthday, attending demonstrations, whatever. I mean, there are all sorts of ways to be activists. But I really liked the way you captured so much creativity and made that the catalyst for change. And I think it’s a great use of your talents and your smarts. Clearly a very smart guy. And it’s just a beautiful book to read through. I mean I’ve enjoyed looking at it so many times.

Tim Truett:

Okay. Well I hope to record it and then we can share it with other people.

Patricia Dubroof:

Yeah. I think that would be great.

Tim Truett:

Oh, and I just invite people in the audience to contact me if you have an interest in this topic.

Patricia Dubroof:

So let’s hear from the audience. Irene, did you want to say something?

Irene:

Yeah. A couple of things. Tim, I really just enjoyed the few things that we saw right now. The snapshots. I have a couple of thoughts. One is I almost feel like there’s a user’s manual that needs to go along with this. It explaining in the background some of the things you touched on and that would even make it a really good teaching tool. And I’m also struck by… I don’t know if you did it consciously or unconsciously, but in terms of teaching in schools, you’ve hit a lot of different learning modalities in terms of poetry, different from visual, different from cognitive, different from sensory. I feel like it’s just an amazing learning tool. I really feel drawn to it.

Tim Truett:

Oh, well, thank you. I wasn’t sure where she’d go into the physics class or the English class or history or government or all of them. I don’t know.

Irene:

Well, if you’re talking about climate change, maybe it needs to be all of that.

Patricia Dubroof:

Yeah. It took a little through.

Irene:

Created a joining of a lot of different what seemed like disparate fields, but aren’t.

Tim Truett:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay.

Patricia Dubroof:

And how nice that you can use creativity to weave through those different fields beautifully. You got some nice chat from New Zealand. Sherry says she started writing poems recently and is now known as a Japanese short-form poet. And we created more than a hundred poems published around the world. And Mary says, these are lovely photos and beautiful haikus. And Sylvia said a fascinating combination of science and poetry makes those of us who aren’t into science, excited about it. That’s a great result, especially as it relates to climate change, I think Al Gore would approve, would definitely buy the book.

Tim Truett:

Well, I may be contacting them to ask permission to use some of the pictures.

Patricia Dubroof:

Sure. Well, and I think contacting the… now that you’re going to be involved with the activist training, certainly, this is a great way for you to learn who the people are to get to them, because that would be a great marketing tool, getting on their board. That’s awesome. That’s great. Any other comments or questions? I’m going to wrap up by thanking Tim profusely for doing this. And I’m looking forward to setting up a video recording schedule with you. I’d also like to remind folks that we do four events every month and our next event is yoga for self-care. And you’re all invited to join us for a delicious restorative easygoing yoga class at three o’clock a week from today. And then the following Friday, we’ve got Julz Abate who is with the Arc of Montgomery County. And she’s going to talk about respite services and other programs that the arc of Montgomery County provides for our residents.

Patricia Dubroof:

And then on Tuesday, you with Death Cafe. We talk about all things, death and dying from a non-religious and non-political standpoint. It’s quite a nice chat. And then at the end of the month, our next book chat will be with Nicole Burton. She’s a local author also from Prince George’s County. And she’s written a delightful memoir about finding her adopted, her birth parents as an adult adoptee, and the challenges that go into that because typically you don’t… By the time you find out who the parents are, they may have already passed away. So it’s quite a beautiful story. It’s called Swimming Up the Sun and I look forward to sharing more great things with you guys throughout this summer. We’re not going to go live with events until probably the fall. To continue enjoying the gas-free Zoom sessions that help our planet in so many ways. And Tim, last words?

Tim Truett:

I just thank you, Patricia, for hosting the event.

Patricia Dubroof:

You’re welcome. We met serving differently and I’m delighted that this is the fruition of what, six months ago or something talking about this. So great. Thanks, everybody. Have a great afternoon.

If you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your Alzheimer’s and Dementia care needs or to set up a free in-home evaluation with one of our nurses, call us today in Potomac at (301) 363-2580, or VA at (703) 556-8983. We are located in Bethesda, MD, (301) 363-2580, and Reston, VA, (703) 556-8983.