Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth"

An Inconvenient Truth

Saturday night, I konked Angela over the head with a billy club and drug her down to the Westhampton Twin to see the documentary staring former politician Al Gore, Jr., An Inconvenient Truth. Okay, so I really didn’t knock her out, either with a club or with drugs, but it did take some convincing on my part to get her to go. Partly because she’s skeptical and also because it’s Al Gore talking for two hours at a 9:50 movie. That’s got $10 nap written all over it.

Well, as it turns out, it’s a terrific film. There is none of the sensationalist drum beating that you see in the over-the-top trailer for the film. The movie itself, rather, is both calm and informative. Gore presentation is intermixed with shots of his travel and of his touring the family farm in (South) Carthage, where he spends most of his days off of the road now. The talk of politics is at an absolute minimum, treated as just one of many steps along his journey to what he does now (If you got up to get a box of popcorn, you’d miss that part entirely). What he does now is campaign for awareness instead of elected office. Even though he won more races that he lost, I’d argue he’s much better at his new career.

The news has been cluttered with all sorts of articles on Gore‘s accuracy in presenting the science. The site I trust the most is Real Climate, and it’s founder Dr. Eric Steig has written a fair critique of the film. He feels confident that the film get’s all the core science right and explains it clearly without dumbing it down. Steig and his colleagues have taken issue with a few of Gore’s supporting facts, or at least how he presents them, but Steig claims that the points of the film are all in solid science. There have been a number of newspaper articles, which often depending on the editorial bent of the paper, range from claiming solid science in the film all the way to the other extreme. I did find that reviews in The Christian Science Monitor and National Geographic (both quoting Dr. Steig heavily) found the film to have solid science. The Canadian Post, on the other hand, found all sorts of scientists to nitpick various statements throughout the film (although most don’t seem to go for the big game of tackling major points of discussion). However, there’s also been a lot evidence that those people have energy industry or political ties and aren’t necessarily representing purely academic interests. Take it all as you will.

While I was never a hard sell to the theory that human beings are causing climate change, I do make an honest effort to stay on top of the science involved. If for no other reason, just to provide rebuttal points for those that seem to have a life goal of proving the guy who supposedly invented the internet is nothing but a charlatan (he, of course, never actually made that specific claim and climate scientists seem to appreciate a politician who listens to them). I would like to make one point about this film, though. No where does Gore say that those of us who believe him are somehow superiors and must go out and defeat the opposition. This isn’t a political call to arms for the Democratic party. Instead, he comes across as a man who feels very strongly that this is the right thing to do and wants everyone just to listen to the science for a little while. The film closes with tips for ways to reduce your CO2 emissions by small things around the house (like what I wrote about last week). There’s no demonizing of political parties or air of superiority in the film. Simply why Gore feels this way, how he got here, and what he has to say about what he (and I) believes is a very important and global issue. We should all see this film and take it’s lessons seriously before we just go making invented-the-internet jokes.

Consequently, Angela never fell asleep during the movie. She and I both were glued to the screen for the entire film. She even got upset at the description of drowned polar bears discovered in the Arctic. Afterwords, she stated that this movie should be required viewing for all elementary and high school children, so they could understand early on the consequences of our energy use.

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