An Inconvenient Truth 

For years, Al Gore has traveled far and wide presenting a multimedia look at global warming. An Inconvenient Truth sets out to do two things: bring the presentation to a much larger audience and offer a fresh showcase for the former vice president. The film, directed by Davis Guggenheim, succeeds on both counts; the fascinating overview of global warming manages to inform without overwhelming, and Al Gore comes off quite nicely in the process.

A lot of columnists are addressing this movie primarily in political terms, which seems pretty screwy to me. When you’re stuck in the house with a bunch of people and the roof is caving in, who gives a rat’s ass about politics? Unless you have access to a spaceship and directions to a hospitable planet, you and your family will be living on Earth, so don’t you think it would be wise for all of us to work together and try to keep the roof from collapsing on our heads?

By the way, if the idea of spending money to watch a lecture, no matter how impressively illustrated, is less than appealing to you, all I can say is that I feel your pain, my brother. If it wasn’t part of my job, I wouldn’t have seen this movie until it came out on DVD or popped up on cable. But having seen it, I can honestly tell you that the presentation grabbed my attention quickly and held on all the way through.

So what do you see? Al Gore in front of an audience, using charts, graphs, photos, film clips and a cartoon to show what global warming is and what needs to be done to impede its deadly progress. We have choices, of course. We can do nothing, but there will be consequences: extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics, killer heat waves, dogs and cats living together — you get the idea. Thankfully, the movie isn’t just gloom and doom. As the closing credits roll, we are given a substantial list of things we can do.

Ah, but did Gore get his facts straight? I did some research (and by doing research, I mean I found an article in Salon Magazine that did some research) and Gore generally gets good marks. To quote the Salon piece: “Climate scientists who have seen Gore’s film say on the whole it presents a scientifically valid view of global warming and does a good job of presenting what’s likely to occur if human-induced greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated.” For the full article, go to news/feature/2006/06/10/truths/.

As I mentioned, the film also affords us a chance to reevaluate Al Gore, incorporating moments from his life that influenced his environmental activism. The ex-vice president comes off much less stiff than he did while on the campaign trail, and his sing-song kindergarten teacher method of speaking that was so widely mimicked is almost completely gone, replaced by a normal human voice. Good for you, Al.

The most telling of the up-close-and-personal-with-Al moments comes when the film presents a montage of photos and clips about the 2000 presidential election night debacle in Florida. At first, the inclusion of the footage seems incongruous, until you consider its place in Gore’s life. I mean, do you remember how awful that night was? Now imagine how it felt from Al’s perspective. After an experience like that, focusing on global warming probably seemed like a less depressing option.

Regardless of your feelings about Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth does a fine job presenting information that we need to know. Whether you see it in a theater or at home, I recommend you check it out.

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