By David L. Brown
This afternoon I attended a showing of the new film about global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” featuring Al Gore. It is an extremely effective film that takes on global warming with no holds barred. I recently wrote a positive first-impressions review of the companion book of the same title, and the film is an excellent complement.
The documentary basically is a dramatization of a “slide show,” as Gore calls it, that he has been putting on for years. In reality the presentation is a very sophisticated multi-screen animated PowerPoint presentation. Much of the movie documents Gore’s live presentation, interwoven with personal vignettes about his past and present life. He estimates that he has given his “slide show” more than 1000 times, all around the world. One segment shows him addressing a Chinese university student audience.
Among those of us who have long been aware of the dangers of global warming, it has always been difficult to understand why others do not recognise what Gore calls the “inconvenient truth.” He addresses this question, and his conclusion is what I have always assumed: That politicians and industry leaders cannot admit the problems of global warming exist because they do not have answers, and they know that solutions will be demanded if the problems are recognized. It is a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to keeping the public from becoming aware of the truth.
As Gore puts it, admitting the problem makes the need to make big changes “inescapable.” And who among our leaders is courageous enough to face up to the cost and sacrifice of making those changes? This is a tragic fact because, as he points out, an aggressive and multi-faceted effort to correct the problems of human-generated global warming would undoubtedly create wealth and jobs while placing our future less in doubt.
Gore works his personal life experiences smoothly into his presentation. In one particularly poignant sequence he describes the time when his six-year-old son was struck by a car and nearly died. This experience, he says, changed his life, making him aware of how easily you can lose something you love and cherish. Then, he turns that into a metaphor, pointing out that all of humanity can collectively lose everything, the entire Earth itself, if climate change turns into a runaway envonmental calamity.
The film and Gore’s narration sometimes takes on a poetic flavor, particularly when he muses about his childhood on his family farm in Tennessee and the changes he has seen take place there, then expanding his viewpoint to make clear that changes like those are taking place everywhere on the planet.
He concludes that global warming is a moral issue, one that we cannot continue to ignore except at great cost to future generations. He rightfully places it alongside the war on terror as an equal or greater challenge. He exhorts young people to demand that their parents not destroy the world they will have to grow up to live in … and asks older people to insist that younger generations take responsibilities for the improvement of the environment.
The film ends on a positive note, with a demonstration of what effect the many changes which are already technically possible could make were they to be implemented. If we could do all that is possible now, Gore demonstrates, by 2050 we could reduce carbon emissions to the level of 1970. (Of course, by that time the total atmospheric load of greenhouse gases will be much higher than it is now, and significant warming could already have taken place.)
As a personal note, I had not gone to a movie theater since about 1990, and my interest in seeing Gore’s new film was a strong enough magnet to draw me in. I found it well worth while. The film is a wonderful and powerful appeal on a subject of absolutely critical importance to all of humanity and the world we share. Gore has dedicated his life to this issue, and his courage and resilience are admirable indeed. Every American should see and learn from this film.
To learn more about this film, visit the website www.climatecrisis.net, here.