Tuesday, May 23, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I saw a poster for An Inconvenient Truth the other day and for the first time noticed its clever tagline: “An Inconvenient Truth: A GLOBAL WARNING.” Yes, Al Gore’s global warming documentary, which is set for limited release in Los Angeles and New York on Wednesday, is first and foremost a warning; it’s a warning to us all to heed the signs that have been steadily accumulating for years: glaciers melting, polar bears drowning for lack of ice floes, hurricanes increasing in strength, natural habitats and hatching/feeding cycles being disrupted…all due to a steady perilous rise in global temperatures. In this remarkable film, Al Gore makes the case, with a startling clarity, for something the scientific community has known for years: that the only way to reverse global warming is to change our behavior.

Yes, we are complicit, Gore scolds us, with a gentle fatherly authority we’re not used to from him. Through his use of jaw dropping photos, charts, graphs and props, Gore educates us, he shows us how the cars we drive, the electricity we use and the trees we burn all contribute to an unprecedented level of human-related greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 most prominent among them) into the atmosphere, which leads to the thickening of the outer layer thus trapping heat from the sun inside our atmosphere that otherwise would escape. It’s an education that Gore says it’s a travesty we haven’t gotten sooner. The media has failed us, the current administration has failed us, and, on a personal level, Al Gore feels he has failed us. This film is his way of righting that wrong.

As much as An Inconvenient Truth offers a planetary SOS, it also succeeds, most improbably, as a very personal tale of a man on a journey of self-discovery; it’s the tale of a man whose life experiences, education and work have all led him to the large screen before us, his voice booming from the speakers, adding movie star to his already impressive resume. As directed, elegantly, by Davis Guggenheim, An Inconvenient Truth cuts agilely between Gore’s global warming presentation and biographical snippets of his life, with his own voiceover telling the tale. From his growing up on a farm and only realizing later in life the difference between fun and work to the influential teacher he had in college who inspired his passion for the subject of global warming; from the near loss of his son in a car accident to the aftermath of the 2000 election, An Inconvenient Truth juxtaposes Gore’s joys and tragedies with his urgent global warming message. The effect is an emotional journey that a slide show alone could never achieve.

When Al Gore talks about his son’s accident, he speaks of something dear to him almost slipping through his fingers, much as he fears the earth may. When he speaks of his loss in 2000, he tells of responding to the inevitable question “what do I do next?” with a clearer focus on his mission to spread the word about this imminent climate crisis. And when he speaks of his sister’s death from lung cancer when his father was a tobacco farmer, he speaks of unfathomable regret and of warnings left unheeded, all of which motivate him every day to make sure the same fate does not befall us. Guggenheim fashions an emotionally satisfying dramatic arc for our hero, one that takes him from quiet uncertainty to fierce focus culminating in a hypnotic final credit sequence that takes the extra step and tells us what we can do, actively in our lives, to help reverse the effects of global warming. The film both diagnoses and prescribes, even as it moves and inspires.

Finally, never fear, political partisans, on top of all of this, An Inconvenient Truth is a fiercely political film. Gore gets a few well-deserved jabs in at the Bush administration, including their refusal to ratify the Kyoto Accord, the oil industry hacks they put in charge of energy policy and, of course, Bush’s tragic response (or rather, the lack thereof) to Hurricane Katrina. And while it may come off at times as petty partisan sniping or, perhaps to some, sour grapes, the primary message we’re left with at the end of the film is not anti-Bush, rather it’s quite a positive one. Gore manages throughout the film to make the case for the U.S. as a force of progress in the world. He tells of a nation that has encountered great challenges and has risen to them with strength and moral clarity. He cites freeing the slaves, fighting fascism in Europe, granting women the right to vote, and the civil rights movement and sees the fight against global warming as our next great moral challenge. It is a fight that will be won, he tells us, by the forces of progress that have defined our history, and, by extension, that define our progressive movement whose values he sees as ascendant. It is “unethical,” he says, not to do something now about this crisis. “All it takes,” Gore says, “is political will. And luckily, political will is a renewable resource.”

This, of course, begs the question, is Gore’s political will to run for president renewable as well? Whether or not he will run in 2008 is the unspoken question that hangs over each frame of the film, but you’ll certainly get no clues as to its answer. Gore has other more pressing things on his mind here, namely, saving the world one presentation, and now screening, at a time.

An Inconvenient Truth premieres in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 24, at the Arclight Cinema in Hollywood and the Laemmle Monica Four-Plex in Santa Monica


Anonymous Anonymous said...


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (the NOAA) is best known as the government agency that runs the National Weather Service and forecasts the weather. In addition to that, the NOAA charts and observes changes in the Earth's environment. Then there's also the NHC...the National Hurricane Center. These folks are the ones that go on TV and tell us about hurricanes whenever one is bearing down.

Have you heard? Al Gore has a film out there called "An Inconvenient Truth." This film says that Hurricane Katrina was the fault of global warming .. and that global warming will cause more hurricanes like Katrina.

So what do these two bits of information have to do with each other? Well it seems that some of the top names in the science of hurricanes don't exactly agree with Al Gore's film. That, neighbors, cannot be tolerated.

Chris Landsea is the science and operations officer at the NHC. He says that the Atlantic Basin, where hurricanes are born, is experiencing a natural 25 to 40 year cycle in hurricane intensity. Landsea says that there has "been no change in the number and intensity of Category 4 or 5 hurricanes around the world in the last 15 years."

This, my friends, is blasphemy to the religion of environmentalism. After the big hurricane season we had last year...Katrina, Rita and so on, how dare the leaders of these agencies came right out and say the hurricanes were part of the Earth's natural cycle?

This is not setting well with the eco-radicals. They believe that there is one and only cause of these strong hurricanes, and that cause is, of course, global warming. They also believe that there is one and only one cause of global warming, and that cause is man in general, and the United States in particular.

In order to "protest" the statements of the NOAA and the NHC, the global warming nut jobs are staging a 37-hour protest at the offices of the NOAA in Silver Spring, Maryland today. They're demanding that the weather services stop covering up the link between global warming and hurricanes. And, of course, they're demanding resignations! Demanding resignations, you see, is the sport of the left. Rather than paying some monetary dues to be part of the anti-rational left, you simply demand someone's resignation. Find someone who expresses an opinion with which you do not agree ... and demand their resignation! Bingo! You're in the club!

If you want to get along remember these so-called facts:

Hurricanes are stronger than they have ever been.

Hurricanes are stronger because of one thing. Global warming.

You have no right to deny the existence of global warming.

You have no right to deny the "fact" that global warming is caused by man, and only by man.

You have no right to point out that the sun is actually in a cycle during which it is hotter.

The sun has nothing to do with global warming.

There ... got it?

Now you can go in peace, be ignorant and multiply.

Thursday -- June 1, 2006

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The consensus is most clearly embodied in the reports of the 100-nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established by the United Nations in 1988. Every five to six years, the panel evaluates the science and issues voluminous reports reviewed by more than 2,000 scientists and every member government, including the United States.

The early reports reflected the squishy state of the science, but by 2001, the conclusion was unequivocal: "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities."

Stunned by the strong language, the Bush administration asked the prestigious National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the international group's work. The UW's Wallace served on the academy's panel, which assured the president the IPCC wasn't exaggerating.

The next IPCC report is due in 2007. Among the new evidence it will include are the deepest ice cores ever drilled, which show carbon-dioxide levels are higher now than any time in the past 650,000 years.

In the history of science, no subject has been as meticulously reviewed and debated as global warming, said science historian Spencer Weart, author of "The Discovery of Global Warming" and director of the Center for History of Physics.

"The most important thing to realize is that most scientists didn't originally believe in global warming," he said. "They were dragged — reluctant step by step — by the facts."

6:49 PM  

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