I don’t understand why global warming is such a hot button issue. Conservative commentators claim that global warming hysteria is part of a left wing crusade to cripple capitalism.

I don’t get it. Even if you don’t believe in man-made climate change, wouldn’t you want to reduce your energy consumption? If nothing else, lowering energy use saves us money.

Critics also call global warming activist Al Gore an energy-guzzling hypocrite. I decided to watch his movie anyway. “An Inconvenient Truth” is a sobering look at a looming crisis.

According to the film, Gore’s crusade started when he was in college. One of his professors discovered a correlation between increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and higher temperatures.

During the film, Gores uses charts, graphs and photographic evidence to bolster his argument. It’s a depressing message. But, it’s like going to the dentist or doctor-we’re better off finding out what’s wrong.

Forest Parker John Milan screened “An Inconvenient Truth” at the Forest Park Public Library. Only a handful attended. He attributed the light turnout to lack of publicity and a confluence of major sporting events. When I interviewed Milan, he provided me with some additional materials, like the Pentagon’s report on global warming.

Wow. This report makes Gore’s movie look like a musical. It warns that climate change will result in water becoming the new oil. Rioting and nuclear war will break out. The Pentagon sees global warming as a greater threat to the world than terrorism. If the president’s highest priority is national defense, how can he ignore such a report from his own generals and scientists?

More importantly, what can we do here in Forest Park to reduce carbon emissions? Here’s a list Milan gave me; some suggestions are easy to follow, some more difficult. For example, we could switch from standard light bulbs to compact fluorescents. The CFLs use 75 percent less energy. We can inflate our car tires properly and make sure the air filter is clean. We can weatherize our drafty houses.

Planting a tree or buying a hybrid car might be more problematic. But, if any community has a chance to go green, it’s Forest Park. The town is so compact; we can leave our cars at home. With our link to the Prairie Path, we could become a biking Mecca. Our houses are modest in size and we can further reduce our energy consumption by installing low-flow showerheads, turning the thermostat down in the winter and unplugging unused electronics.

I believe there’s always been a spirit of conservation in Forest Park. The immigrants who founded this town lived frugally and were certainly not wasteful. If current residents are looking for a wake-up call on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth” will have another showing at the library. I promise it will be just as compelling as a Cubs game.