Geoffrey Long
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An Inconvenient Truth.
An Inconvenient Truth
Tonight my housemate Jared and I caught a screening of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth at Harvard Square. (Those links go to IMDB; the official site for the movie is All of my friends that have seen it had been calling it "a surprisingly uplifting, compelling movie about Al Gore and a PowerPoint presentation." That's fairly accurate. The majority of the film is Gore giving a speech about global warming to an auditorium of students, but the genius of it is the way it's intercut with anecdotes from Gore's own life. Gore talks briefly about having his childhood divided between D.C. (his father was also a Congressman) and his family's tobacco farm, a little bit about his take on the election (yes, that election), about nearly losing his son – and he talks about all of it with nobility and grace. He then systematically goes through the basic objections to global warming ("It's a liberal conspiracy", "scientists are in debate as to whether global warming exists at all") and smacks down every one. He even goes so far as to show how Hurricane Katrina was amplified by global warming.

All told, An Inconvenient Truth is both informative and inspiring, but I don't think it goes far enough on the opportunities at hand. Gore falls back on the usual treehugger tactic of stock footage of a lush, tranquil wilderness and bemoans how awful it will be if our grandkids never enjoy it. True, absolutely true, but it doesn't really kick the motivation into high gear. We've grown jaded enough so that tactic doesn't really work. What he (and the other environmentalists) need to do is tie profit to preservation. He touches on this briefly when demonstrating how Ford and GM are still in the crapper while foreign auto companies like Honda and Toyota are making real financial gains through the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles, but he doesn't go for the grand slam, which would be demonstrating how much ridiculous wealth will be generated by whoever comes up with the best replacement for the oil barons. Energy will always be profitable in some way, shape or form – and since oil is on its way out, there's a whole generation of new energy barons waiting to be born. That's where I thought Gore was going with the film, but he stopped short of really exploring the opportunities.

Oh, well. Maybe in the sequel.


hey babe. did you know that i have an entry in my blog with this same title? weird...

Wandered in from Technorati. Love the look of the site.

As long as you have entries as thoughtful as the one you wrote on "An Inconvenient Truth," you'll be fine in terms of getting readers, if that is a concern of yours. I disagree with all liberal politics, but good writing stands on its own.

Thanks, Ashok! I'm in a funny situation because I'm shifting audiences as I wend my way through MIT. Keep an eye on the blog – I'm hoping to keep the good stuff coming as much as I can.

Here's why there is so much talk about the problem itself in the movie compared to relatively little talk about solutions:

From Al Revere
An interview with accidental movie star Al Gore
By David Roberts
09 May 2006

A:There's a lot of debate right now over the best way to communicate about global warming and get people motivated. Do you scare people or give them hope? What's the right mix?

Q:I think the answer to that depends on where your audience's head is. In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.

Over time that mix will change. As the country comes to more accept the reality of the crisis, there's going to be much more receptivity to a full-blown discussion of the solutions.

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