An Inconvenient Truth

Posted on May 24, 2006 at 3:36 pm

No zombies. No chain saws. No mutants. No aliens. No meteors hurtling toward Earth. And yet, this is the scariest movie of the year, not, as some jokes suggest, because it is a two-hour Power Point Presentation by famously un-exciting former Vice President Al Gore, but because this is real, this is happening, and we can’t count on Bruce Willis or Will Smith to save the day.


Al Gore first became interested in the problem of climate change as a result of a visionary teacher he had in college who was the first person to begin to map the increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He has now given this presentation more than 1000 times, going from flip charts to fancy animated graphics. His somewhat stiff but clearly deeply felt delivery turns out to be just right for this material. Anything else would sound shrill and shriek-y. And as he presents the science of the causes, the impacts so far, and the prospects for the future, his relentless but calm tone makes it possible for us to stay with the story without feeling shrill or shriek-y ourselves.


There are a few welcome digressions into Gore’s personal life that help us understand why he feels that this is not a polticial or a scientific issue as much as a moral one. There is an unwelcome and distracting digression into the 2000 election that wafts a whiff of sour grapes over the description of the Bush administration’s policies. But other than that brief derailment, the movie is mesmerizing. Ultimately, crucially, it is hopeful, ending with a sense of purpose and confidence that we can do what is necessary.

Families who see this movie will want to find out more about the problems it describes and what they can do to help. The film’s website is a good place to start. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming site has information for adults and children. Another point of view is here, produced by a conservative think tank called the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Slate Magazine’s Gregg Easterbrook challenges some of the moral and scientific points made in the movie here. A search for “climate change” or “Kyoto accords” on the website maintained by the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives will provide an update on current proposals and debates. Other resources include the Pew Center and the Exploratorium.

Families should talk about how we sort through different opinions, sometimes even different facts presented by a range of sources. They should also talk about the range of responses for individuals and communities.

Families who appreciate this film will also like Darwin’s Nightmare, Koyaanisqatsi, March of the Penguins, The Future of Food, and The Yes Men.

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2 Replies to “An Inconvenient Truth”

  1. I would think that with much of presentation now being shown to be false if maybe Movie Mom shouldn’t possible re-write her analysis. It is a bit disheartening that she thinks so highly of Michael Moore’s works when time after time they have been shown to be inaccurate and and misleading at best.

  2. Thanks for the comment! This is not a Michael Moore movie, of course. It is a film made by the former Vice President of the United States who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his environmental work. With any advocacy documentary, including those of Michael Moore, I do my best to provide links to opposing views as I did here. In Michael Moore’s case, one of the most important elements of his work is the space he provides online to publish and respond to the questions raised by those who have concerns or want more information. This in and of itself is compelling evidence of his credibility. If you have evidence to support your claims about his films being inaccurate and misleading, you are welcome to post them as comments.
    This highly acclaimed film represents the views of the broadest segment of the scientific and public policy community. Indeed, since it was released the overwhelming support for the positions it espouses has dramatically increased. For that reason I do not believe my analysis needs revision.

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