'An Inconvenient Truth'

'An Inconvenient Truth' is one of the scariest horror movies I've ever seen. Technically, it's not a horror film really, it's a documentary. And that's precisely what makes it so horrifying. I was lucky enough to get a chance to catch an advance screening of the new global warming documentary last night in Manhattan and, while I tend to shy away from offers like this from PR flacks (really, what's the point of me getting a free advance copy of 'The Aristocrats' on DVD?), seeing 'An Inconvenient Truth' seemed relevant enough.

Oddly, it was just last week that I watched the trailer for the film online. I was riveted. Part political documentary, part college science class, part disaster movie, I was actually shaken. And this was just the trailer!  I was so moved that I actually set about doing something that I'd been putting off for months. Here in New Jersey, we have a program called NJ Clean Power Choice. It's really simple. For a nominal additional charge tacked on to the existing rate, energy consumers get to choose between four different suppliers of alternative energy. Three of these will purchase all of the energy you consume with a portfolio of more environmentally responsible choices, like wind, solar, hydroelectric, and even landfill gas. One of them will replace 15% of your power consumption with local wind power from the coastal Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm. Personally, I saw the trailer for the documentary, remembered that I'd been putting off enrolling in the Clean Power Choice program since last fall, went to the website and signed up to have 100% of our electricity provided by alternative sources.

Obviously, like most readers of this site, it makes sense that I'd be stirred to action by a film that diligently lays out the case for immediate action on global warming. But having seen the documentary, I'm confident that the people moved to act won't just be already environmentally aware progressives like myself. Rather than being preachy or browbeating, the film couches its message in a documentary that's really as much about Gore as it is global warming. There's a great deal of biographical footage in the film -- Al Gore's college years, Al Gore in the House, Al Gore in the Senate, Al Gore as Vice President, Al Gore on his family's farm, Al Gore's childhood home in Washington, Al Gore with his children, Al Gore during the 2000 election nightmare -- which helps ground the story. Thankfully, it never seems gratuitous or self-serving. Rather, it's all offered as explanation for why he cares so much about the issue and background on how hard he's worked to get it into the public eye.

There's definitely a sense of one man screaming at a wall. Gore is shown sitting in the back seat of cars, in airplanes, in hotel rooms, and in vacant conference rooms, diligently working on his Mac laptop, building and refining his presentation on global warming. And of course, he's shown giving the presentation, really the backbone of the film. It's a presentation full of shocking and heartbreaking statistics about the reality of the problem. But there's also a good deal of humor in the mix, as well. We've all seen that Al Gore, when he's comfortable, can be a pretty funny guy. Talking about the environment, he's at the top of his game. (A short Matt Groening cartoon, a key part of the presentation, certainly doesn't hurt.)

And take heart in the fact that it's not all just doom and gloom. The film ends with the promise that there are answers to this seemingly intractable crisis. All we need is the will to change. Gore offers up as an example of the possibility of halting global warming the fact that the growth of the hole in the ozone layer, another problem once seen as unsolvable, has been reversed through human innovation and action.

I'm not going to get into every statistic in the film. It loses something when laundry-listed on a website like this. The documentary really is the best conveyor of the information, so I'm strongly urging everyone to see it for yourself when it's released publicly next month. This film is an important wake-up call.

Tags: Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, energy policy, Environment, Global Warming, Media (all tags)

Comments

13 Comments

Re: 'An Inconvenient Truth'

i look forward to seeing this film / Utah Power also has an alternative energy option called Blue Sky / we buy shares for wind power / my town was the first in the Nation designated by the EPA as a Green Power Community / in a competition with Park City to buy Blue Sky shares we bought more and we won / smile / all electricity for the City offices of M...is from Blue Sky wind power

by caterina 2006-04-19 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: 'An Inconvenient Truth'

I didn't see the movie, but I saw Gore give the presentation.  Very good, scary stuff.

by Matt Stoller 2006-04-19 07:47AM | 0 recs
"In Truth"

I think Al Gore made this film out of a true sense of public service, not as a calculating politicial move.  Al Gore gave his first speech on the dangers of global warming in congress in 1982.  This is an issue that he is passionately committed to addressing.  

That said, "An Inconvenient Truth" will be the perfect vehicle to launch a campaign, with all the motivating aspects of "Fahrenheit 9/11", and little of the backlash.  This could have a "Free Willy" effect.  Contributions made by movie-goers resulted in "Willy" being bought from the Mexican pool where he lived, rehabilitated in the Pacific northwest, and finally returned to his home waters around Iceland.  If the movie "Free Willy" can send a killer whale from Mexico to Iceland, then "An Inconvenient Truth" can put Gore in the White House.  

Gore will still have a primary challenge.  Hillary also has her issues she is committed to addressing, like banning flag-burning, and sending more troops to Iraq.  But in the end, Gore will take the nomination.  

by Winston Smith 2006-04-19 08:02AM | 0 recs
Gore for President in 2008

I hope the movie launches his presidential campaign in 08!

by abc 2006-04-19 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Gore for President in 2008

I do too

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2006-04-19 04:58PM | 0 recs
Re: 'An Inconvenient Truth'

The movie poster is creepy-brilliant.

by DavidNYC 2006-04-19 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: 'An Inconvenient Truth'

Trailer link: http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount_ classics/aninconvenienttruth/trailer/

Damn - wish he woulda been our president.

by ananke 2006-04-19 09:23AM | 0 recs
NJ CleanPower

Thanks for the heads-up on this program.  I hadn't heard of it before; should we be wondering if that was on purpose?

I plan on signing up today.

by Walden 2006-04-19 09:37AM | 0 recs
NJ Clean Power Choice

Thanks for the heads-up, Scott - I'm in Essex County and hadn't heard of this program before. I'm going to sign up and send emails about it to everyone I know in NJ.

by curmudgeon 2006-04-19 09:56AM | 0 recs
I believe 200% in Global warming
and man's contribution to the problem.  However, and very sadly believe that until three or four severe hurricanes whack the gulf region or a major city or the Florida keys get flooded, or the ocean conveyor belt stops or the ocean's food chain collapses will people, especially conservatives get it through their thick skulls that our climate is at serious risk of turning against us.  
There was a scientist the other day that said he believes that the climate is changing and will change but that the planet and us will have time to adapt.  Whaaa???  Sure the planet will compensate, but how do human's adapt to MAJOR urban areas like New York and Miami being flooded, or massive food shortages due to drought or or heat waves that hover in the 100F+ for weeks???  The planet may compensate but the world will not be habitable for human's.
by gasperc 2006-04-19 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: I believe 200% in Global warming

There will be massive migration when all of Africa and the entire southern hemisphere is fleeing from the heat - which could lead to new military confliects and possibly a global nuclear war.

Global warming could kill us all, if we don't stop it.

by Populism2008 2006-04-19 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: 'An Inconvenient Truth'

I saw "An Inconvenient Truth" at a screening at the Sundance Film Festival back in January and I can say that everyone in the audience was impressed.  There were two reactions:

1) That the problem is worse and growing faaster than most of us realized, and
2) That if Al Gore had come across this human and natural duringthe 2000 election, he would have won by a large enough margin that the Republicans could not have stolen it.

In describing the movie, I have called it the greatest Power Point demonstration I have ever seen.  That may make it sound boring, but Gore combines his lectures with both hard data and anecdotes, along with humor, personal reminiscences and visual evidence that the film is completely compelling.

Gore also answered questions afterwards and you could see his passion about the issue shine through.  I do wish, however, that more of the film was spent on solutions and things we could do to help as citizens.  But overall it is fantastic.

by Ian in DC 2006-04-19 01:02PM | 0 recs
Global warming is the most important issue

next to terrorism, in my opinion. If we don't survive as a species then economic growth, universal health care, abortion rights and gay marriage will not matter anyway.

Dems must adress it NOW. We have the public with us on this one.

by Populism2008 2006-04-19 03:08PM | 0 recs

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