Category: documentaries / In category: 2 of 10 / Overall: 10 of 100
FULL DISCLOSURE: before I saw ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ at the cinema in September 2006, I was a sceptic. I gave little thought to environmental concerns and was of the opinion that global warming was just another media scare story. Davis Guggenheim’s documentary swung a wrecking ball against my apathy and non-understanding and my attitude to the media now is that they don’t talk about environmentalism enough.
Full disclosure, too, on the provenance of this post. The eight paragraphs that follow are simply a copy and paste of the review I wrote for my erstwhile blog MovieBuff three and a half years ago. When I selected ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for the Personal Faves project – and when I hit upon documentaries as one of the Operation 101010 genres – it was my intention to reappraise the film and write an entirely new piece. Looking back at that original write-up, though, I realised that what I wouldn’t be able to capture in a new article was that sense of the scales falling from my eyes; of how much of a wake-up call the film was to me on personal level. So please excuse the slightly breathless prose style, the contextual references to the Bush administration (the Demon Dubya was still in power at the time), and the stupidly obvious mistake in the first paragraph (it’s a Keynote presentation, not PowerPoint – d’uh!); what follows is how I felt in September 2006, just a couple of hours after seeing the film:
On paper, it doesn’t sound like much of an evening at the flicks: 97 minutes of a US politician giving a PowerPoint presentation about global warming, with a few bits of newsreel footage spliced in. But don’t be put off.
‘An Inconvenient Truth’ is a gripping and thought-provoking documentary about Al Gore’s campaign – although a better word would be crusade; the man is passionate and dedicated – to promote understanding of the global climate crisis. Tirelessly travelling from city to city, state to state, his goal is to raise public awareness, eradicate the myths surrounding global warming that have been propagated in the popular press, and – crucially – to encourage his audience that the solution can be social, not political.
Gore’s lack of faith in the Bush administration isn’t just sour grapes at his defeat in Florida, but based on hard-won personal experience of the political process. America has still not ratified the Kyoto Treaty – the only major country (apart from Australia) not to do so. Oil and big business hold sway over policy-making. Gore relates the story of Phillip Cooney, a lobbyist for American Petroleum who was appointed as Bush’s environmental advisor … a conflict of interests by any standards! Cooney’s White House career came to an end after a whistleblower leaked documents that proved he had censored reports warning of the growing climate crisis. The day after Cooney resigned, he went to work for Exxon Mobil.
But of course, the basic facts of global warming are the very things big business doesn’t want to face up to (the ‘inconvenient truth’ of the title): energy consumption and fossil fuels contribute to the huge quantities of CO2 in the atmosphere. Gore charts a direct correlation between CO2 levels and temperature increase. Melting icecaps and glaciers are only part of the problem; extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes and typhoons have also increased dramatically in the last decade, culminating in last year’s Hurricane Katrina.
The evidence is incontrovertible: a simple graph shows how drastically levels have risen since the 1970s. A projection, based on current increase, demonstrates that within 45 years, the effect on Earth’s atmosphere will be one of irreversible ecological damage. Gore’s message is clear: we have a decade in which we can do something; counter the problem; pulls ourselves back from the brink. It sounds bleak, but Gore remains confident that changes can be made.
This is what it will take: as many people as possible taking personal responsibility in a matter of global morality. Will it happen? I can only offer my response to the film:
‘An Inconvenient Truth’ has changed the way I think about certain issues. It has corrected my misunderstanding, based on erroneous and scaremongering reports in the media, of the causes and results of global warming. It has shown me that, on a personal basis, I can make a change.
We all can. Go and see the film, buy the book that accompanies it – and you’ll already have made a start.