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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