We finally saw "An Inconvenient Truth" last night. I thought it was truly excellent. A huge amount of complex information is conveyed in a very clear, straightforward and compelling way - and that is the highest compliment one can pay a movie like this. I've written some educational videos, and let me tell you, it is not a simple thing to do. I think Al Gore and his team have done a brilliant job.
Several wmtc readers said they found the segments about Gore himself jarring or intrusive. I did not. I think the movie is also a personal journey or quest. It's about, in some sense, why Gore made the movie. I think that personal piece might make it more compelling for some viewers.
I admire Gore tremendously for dedicating himself to educating the public this way, for committing the time, energy and resources to what is clearly the most important issue of our time. If Gore wants to be part of the story, well, why shouldn't he be? Who doesn't want recognition for their work? Who among us is so free of ego that we don't want credit for our own efforts? After losing the presidency, Gore could have chosen any path: he chose public service. And this, to my mind, is true public service.
I noticed that many of the points made in the movie are ones I read about in more detail in Jared Diamond's Collapse, which I blogged about here, among other entries. If "An Inconvenient Truth" interested you, if you've read about global warming in the newspaper or heard about it on TV, but haven't explored it further, and don't know where to start, I highly recommend reading Collapse.
I loved Gore's quick run-through of examples of human beings radically changing the world, from the American Revolution to the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa. It's so important to remember that humans have created very positive - and completely radical - change. It's so easy to be cynical, to feel hopeless. But it's vitally important not to succumb to those feelings, to focus on what we can do. Gore makes a great point about how people often go straight from denial to hopelessness: "It's not happening, but if it is, there's nothing we can do about it." That skipped step in the middle is what could save our lives.
I also liked the pie chart illustrating how small changes add up incrementally. One sliver for this, another for that... and you've restored hope. This made me feel better about any little steps that I've taken, and it inspired me to go further. I can't be the only one who felt that way - proof that this movie can do a lot of good.
Two things in the past year have greatly influenced my thinking about the environment. I was not a global warming denier, and I've always tried to do my little share for conservation, my habits falling somewhere in that vast middle ground between off-the-grid simple living and wasteful disregard. But two things have brought me a sense of greater clarity and urgency, and gave me more tools to think, write and talk about the issue, using both hard facts and personal, human observations. One was my trip to Peru. The second was reading Collapse. Now I'll add a third: "An Inconvenient Truth".
Did you see that tickets for Gore's appearance in Toronto sold out in minutes? In Boise, Idaho, his appearance had to moved to a larger venue to accommodate the huge demand, and 10,000 tickets sold in 90 minutes.