May 27, 2006

MOVIE: Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"

If you have heard about the just-released "An Inconvenient Truth" - Al Gore's movie about global warming - you may wonder if it is worth the time, money, and potential discomfort to see it.

The movie and book are "inconvenient" wake-up calls for a need to shift attitudes, behavior, legislation, and industry for the sake of the next generation. It focuses attention on Gore's physical evidence of global warming, the reduction of greenhouse gases, and the consequences of delayed action. It is a critically important issue.

If bird flu is a threatening pandemic, global warming is a potential pan-pandemic reaching into every ecological niche of the planet. It is a pressing, controversial subject with a direct relevance to the subject of this blog - the development of clean technologies to replace the polluting fossil fuel energy paradigm we now have.

Was Katrina the harbinger of colossal flooding to come or a meteorological anomaly? What parts of the planet are most vulnerable to flooding? What is the scientific basis upon which the Kyoto Protocol was crafted? What is the photographic evidence supporting the recession of glaciers and reduction of polar ice packs? What is the correlation between historic temperature patterns and CO2 levels? How fast could change take place? This movie provides a 90-minute, PG rated, Global Warming 101 introduction to these and other questions.

The structure of the movie is very straightforward - it records a speech Al Gore has given more than 1,000 times since the early 90's. It is refreshing to see the former "next President of the United States" providing an understated albeit alarming presentation of the facts without the wooden delivery and wonky distractions we are used to from his former political campaigns. Using handsome visuals and stagecraft, the message is well crafted and persuasive.

Is this an opening salvo for a future run for higher office? Possibly - and that suspicion makes him a less credible messenger. Footage of his family life lends heart to the story but also reads like a political bio at a political convention - Gore's "The Man from Hope." He resists the temptation to take pot shots at the current administration except to quote Upton Sinclair:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his NOT understanding it." - Upton Sinclair

Sounds like a bipartisan accusation thirty years in the making to me. He had the opportunity as a Senator and Vice President to persuade Congress to act and he couldn't get it done. People are paying more attention now.

Counter arguments can be found online at Competitive Enterprise Institute.

What actions does Gore recommend? There aren't many offered in the movie except an invitation in the late credits to check out its website at The limited release dates for theaters throughout North America are also listed there.

Paramount's Classics has committed 5% of their domestic theatrical gross for their film, "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH," with a minimum guarantee of $500,000 to be donated to a new bipartisan climate effort, Alliance for Climate Protection.

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Toni said...

Al Gore and his environmental friends told us 25 years ago that if we didn't get off fossil fuels the world would end in 20 years.

Where's the end of the world?

Richard said...

For an evenhanded and accessible discussion of the science see

Anonymous said...

Until he acknowledges that nuclear power can and should contribute to the "de-fossilization" of the world, he won't be credible. Bill

C. Scott Miller, EDP said...

For a range of viewpoints that mostly run counter to the positions of "An Inconvenient Truth" visit The Commons website where there is a series of blog posts summarizing the proceedings of The Environmental Wars, a Skeptics Society Conference held in Pasadena, CA this past week (June, 2006).