In some ways the environmental battle, and the battle against global warming, or whatever you want to call it is a bit of a fool’s errand. After all, the planet does not need saving – it was there well before we were and will be there well after we die off. Indeed, only when the sun explodes – and it will – does the earth as a biosphere, have any real problems. Also, there is a pretty significant likelihood that the human species is going to go extinct without a key mutation or three taking place, although hopefully that happens well after our time is up. (although us being the chosen ones for The End would be kind of neat)
However, while we are here, we might as well try putting off extinction for as long as possible. The phenomenon of global warming seems pretty airtight. That it is even controversial is actually pretty amazing. Al Gore has made this his life’s mission since losing the 2000 election – of course a version of the speech he has given comprises Davis Guggenheim’s 2006 Oscar winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. What is particularly impressive about Guggenheim’s film is how it takes what should have been a very very dry format – basically, one dude lecturing – and makes it a very very entertaining engaging piece.
The film uses some fairly conventional wrap-arounds to make sure we are not just staring at Gore lecturing the entire time. We get cuts of Gore talking about how he came to this as his self-chosen vocation – some behind the scenes thoughts about why he is doing this speech. This places some human interest in Gore’s mission and effectively breaks up the natural chapters in his oratory. Gore himself is not a dynamic speaker. He is miles more emotional than he was as a Vice President or as Presidential candidate, but it is largely still a recitation of facts. However, the film’s use of graphics keeps the words lively. Gore uses gigantic graphics, so as we see the charts of temperatures in Antarctica since time infinitum the recent trend is staggering.
Indeed, the temperature trends are ALL staggering. The climate changes are real – it seems fairly bulletproof. The idea that there is a controversy seems to be driven by forces that are not working with pure science in mind – whether they be think tank funded people or whatever. Indeed the peer review stats Gore cites are amazing. There is a lot of money in denying the problem. The film with its stark examples and graphs and exhibits, show tons of anecdotal circumstantial evidence, too much to ignore.
Where the film is weak is that there is a lot of evidence, but the human connection to it is largely a matter of faith. Gore mentions it once, but the movie sidesteps the “what do I have to do with it” question. It gets a bit more beyond the political ambitions of a blog like this to speculate on the policy. However, as a film, An Inconvenient Truth forces us to stare at global warming and the implications of what is happening. Are we the cause? Who knows – but it feels like we have to be part of the solution, if for no other reason than to put off the inevitable extinction of the species.