Directed by Davis Guggenheim
An Inconvenient Truth documents Al Gore’s multimedia presentation about global warming that he has delivered thousands of times all over the world. In it, he illustrates that the increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is altering the planet’s ecosystem, causing detrimental effects, some of which we are already seeing. What sounds like a boring, science lecture is instead a compelling one-man show about the future of the planet intercut with a biography about the man driven to tell the tale.
Al Gore first began learning about this issue back in the ‘60s from his college professor, Roger Revelle. According to NASA’s website, “In 1957, Revelle and Hans Suess, one of the founders of radiocarbon dating, demonstrated that carbon dioxide had increased in the air as a result of the use of fossil fuels in a famous article published in Tellus, a European meteorology and oceanography journal.” As a member of congress and Vice President he worked to further attention on environmental issues, including writing Earth in the Balance, which detailed his Global Marshall Plan.
In the film, he shows the chain of events starting with the increase of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Experiments conducted on Antarctic ice cores indicate carbon dioxide is at its highest level during the past 650,000 years, which is certainly believable considering the increase of population, cars and industry over the years. This leads to the question, what is the impact? Greenhouse gases trap the Sun’s heat, making the planet warm enough for those of us currently inhabiting on it. When greenhouse gas levels rise, the planet gets warmer, resulting in glaciers melting, sea levels rising, and storms increasing in ferocity.
Gore presents recent changes in the Earth’s ecosystem as evidence. The average temperature of the Earth has increased at its fastest rate in recorded history in the past 50 years. The ten hottest years have all taken place since 1990 with 2005 being the hottest ever measured. Over several decades there has been almost double the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes. Unfortunately, this film isn’t a debate, so we don’t see critics and naysayers discuss the issues raised. For example, considering the Earth is approximately 4.57 billion years, is there any way to know with certainty how long a cycle or trend lasts?
While skepticism trumps idealism in today’s climate of current affairs, Gore’s sincerity manifests itself on the screen. He is not the same man who stood before us running for President in 2000; now with his guard down, he is much more engaging, humorous, comfortable, and passionate. Gore truly believes this is a serious issue with dire consequences. Not now, not for our children or even our grandchildren, but one day in the distant future there could be grave consequences for future generations.
I don’t know, and may never know in my lifetime, if Gore’s assertions in the film are correct; nevertheless, I do think he may be more right than wrong. I don’t see how Gore can financially benefit from his position, so I trust his motivations for speaking out about the issue. Also, most people who speak in public are attacked, and his life out of the limelight appeared to be running pretty smoothly without a need for all the histrionics that he is encountering. I have seen detractors compare Gore and An Inconvenient Truth to Goebbels’ Nazi propaganda films while others decry a duplicity for allegedly taking a car to travel a short distance. Attacking the messenger instead of the message always gives more credence to the message.
Does that mean Gore is unequivocally correct? Not at all, but the film definitely motivates the viewer to get more information, and it’s always a good thing to get people thinking and talking. Even those who don’t like Al Gore, for what might be very good reasons, owe it to themselves to hear his message because even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.