Global warming peril exposed in 'Truth'

Global warming sure is a tough sell.

Al Gore equates it to this analogy: If a frog jumps into a beaker of boiling water, it will immediately jump out. But if placed in one where the water is room temperature and then heated, the frog will sit there the entire time until it boils to death.

"An Inconvenient Truth" offers a more expanded exploration of this idea, with humans as frogs and global warming as the boiling water.

Because the gradual process is one that doesn't have the instant impact of, say, ramming airliners into buildings, the public apparently requires years worth of convincing as to the catastrophic threat. Even then, there is no guarantee the situation will be embraced.

Perhaps one film can change that attitude.

Riding a poster blurb that dubs it "the most terrifying movie of the year," the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" is so convincing that it makes opposers of the argument as credible as Holocaust deniers.

The former vice president points out how there is "100 percent agreement" within the scientific community. However, the energy industry has tried to obfuscate the argument, employing the same tactics used by the tobacco lobby to reposition global warming as a debate.

Using a comprehensive but easy-to-digest multimedia presentation, Gore explains how the burning of fossil fuels at such a high rate is causing glaciers and snow to melt. (The United States is, not surprisingly, the guiltiest of nations.) Those frozen masses reflect sunlight whereas seawater retains it, so their reduction equals more heat that is unable to escape Earth's atmosphere. Thus the modern escalation of deadly heat waves, hurricanes, typhoons, carbon dioxide levels, etc., continue to plague the planet.

If nothing is done within the next 10 years, Gore describes the inevitable outcome as "a nature hike through the Book of Revelations."

It's hard to argue with the facts introduced in "An Inconvenient Truth" - and since I'm not a big oil tycoon, I don't have to. But there are some questionable areas when it comes to the filmmaking.

Director Davis Guggenheim shows quite an improvement from his lone previous feature, the 2000 thriller "Gossip." In my original review of the film I chastised, "Guggenheim tries to inject more than the recommended limit of fancy camerawork, jarring edits and hipster soundtrack singles into his film, and the outrageous art direction is especially eye-popping in its absurdity."

He must have taken the criticism to heart, because the filmmaker does the exact opposite with this documentary. He relies on a no-frills approach to make his case. Much of the picture is simply Gore delivering his speech in a small theatrical setting.

Movie

An Inconvenient Truth ***

thumbnail

"It's not a political issue as much as it is a moral issue," Al Gore says about global warming. The documentary follows the former VP as he tours the globe presenting a compelling multimedia speech that lays out facts and solutions. But is this a great movie or did director Davis Guggenheim merely grab a camera and record a great lecture?

Find showtimes

So is this a great movie or did someone merely use a camera to record a great lecture?

Even some of the more visual sight gags (including a "Simpsons"-like animated short that illustrates some of the theories) are taken verbatim from the slide show. Unlike Morgan Spurlock's "Super Size Me," which benefited greatly from inventive original material to spice up stretches of potentially dry data, Guggenheim seems content to let Gore do most of the work.

Gore is really the only "character" throughout the project. "Truth" is basically an international travelogue centering on the former investigative reporter while he presents his findings. These engagements are interspersed with ruminations from his family home in Tennessee about the fragile beauty of nature and some very powerful introspection involving family tragedies.

Throughout the movie Gore is rendered as sincere, good-natured and humorous. ("I'm Al Gore. I used to be the next president of the United States.")

Funny, I remember the man coming across as a total stiff during the 2000 election.

If the same guy who is showcased in the film had let a hint of this personality leak through his blow-dried political image, he might have captured the Florida vote. In turn he would have earned enough electoral points to win the presidential election uncontested.

If Al Gore would have warmed up six years ago, then perhaps global warming wouldn't be such a problem.

Comments

Larry 14 years, 1 month ago

How ironic? Al Gore loses his home state of Tennessee during his presidential bid partly due to his hypocrisy on environmental issues. His family owns a business in Tenn. that was sited by the EPA for polluting the environment on more than one occasion.

It amazes me that the media can claim that we are having the hottest summer in 2,000 years. I didn't realize we had records that far back. Plus - who can forget the 12 to 15 days in 1976 or so when the temperature was above 100 degrees, yet two or three summers back, we had the mildest summer temperatures in quite some time. I don't know the answers to global warning but I certainly can't take ALGORE's word for it.

Lee Eldridge 14 years, 1 month ago

As Al Gore states, Global Warming is a fact that scientists agree on. Global Warming and Global Cooling patterns are well documented across the Earth's history, dating back thousands of years. This is not the first (or hopefully last) time that Earth has experienced Global Warming.

What scientists DO NOT agree on is the extent to which we have contributed to global warming.

From the EPA:

"In short, scientists think rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are contributing to global warming, as would be expected; but to what extent is difficult to determine at the present time."

http://yosemite.epa.gov/oar/globalwarming.nsf/content/climateuncertainties.html

Understand that it is NOT in the EPA's best interest to ever disspell Global Warming. What happens if the EPA says that Global Warming is not man made? Their funding will most certainly be reduced as politicians will spend that money elsewhere.

There are plenty of incredibly well-respected scientists on both sides of this debate. Al seems to leave these facts out of his discussion. As does any politician or advocate when they speak about their "cause".

ASBESTOS 14 years, 1 month ago

THere is LOTS of disagreement on the issues of Global Climatic change I tChing. You quoted the 1998 version of the IPCC. Not the latest. Nor does NOAA agree on that. Nor does the NAS have full agreement on the global climatic change.

Yes it is the warmest it has been in 400 years. BUt there is ample evidence scientific that is that the earth was MUCH warmer. Many of the dontinents were not in the same place to experience some of these conditions over millions of years. So we do not knoe.

When this thing started out people wer 100% sure it was from man made sources. Now scientists wonder and the NOAA confirms that man made influences may make up flor less than 50% possible of the global warming effect.

Are the scientists that hustle grants any less money driven than say the corporations? You need to set down and learn how to go through data.

bisky1 14 years, 1 month ago

beware of a problem that has no upside, no one ever talks about the good that will result from global warming, increased plant production for one. when it was the coming ice age in the 70's the problem was the same as now industrial capitialism and the solution the same international socialism. (quote -unquote) dr fredrick seitz, past president of the national academy if sciences has sponsored a petition refuting gores claims, he only has 17,000 signatures so far. gloabal warming is not about the enviroment it is about politics.

Shelby 14 years, 1 month ago

"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 (global warming) 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." -- Al Gore

Centrist 14 years, 1 month ago

I don't give a damn what you "reactionary" people are saying ... we ARE polluting the atmosphere. It must have SOME effect !!

Take a clean glass of water and throw a little dirt in it ...

Get my point??

I don't care if you believe in global warming or not. Just try to see that we ARE damaging this planet. How could we not be, when we're GROWING our urban areas by replacing countryside with housing, industry, and little or no trees, plus polluting the waters and air. And it's getting worse ..

You ignoramuses ... you're dirtying your own backyard and you want it to continue ... all because it's politically "Right" to say it.

Martin Shupert 14 years, 1 month ago

Wow! So many people on here are willing to conduct an uncontrolled scientific experiment on our only home. If the overwhelming majority of scientists are wrong to believe that global warming is caused by human behavior and can be slowed or reversed by altering that behavior, the worst case scenario would be that we would have a number of new industries which unnecessarily purify our air and water and provide us with non polluting forms of energy. That's scary, huh? If they are right and we do nothing about this,... we might all die and/or cause our children and grandchildren to die. I want to vote for the unnecessary clean air, water, and energy and I'm willing to do that decades before everyone is convinced what percentage of our behavior is causing it.

cjsks 14 years, 1 month ago

What is there to 'gain' from denying the evidence about global warming... nothing.

What is there to 'lose' by denying the evidence about global warming... everything.

This is why I will do my part to educate myself and others, and do the small things to help reduce carbon emmissions and slow (and hopefully one day reverse) the impact that we are having on our climate.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.