Al Gore has a personality. Who knew?
Where he was hiding that personality during the 2000 presidential election, we will likely never know -- but it's a bittersweet revelation of how much he could have done as President to prevent the urgency of his message in An Inconvenient Truth, assuming he had a cooperative Congress (which is unlikely).
So now, he travels around the country, and around the world, presenting a slide show he narrates with hard, scientific proof -- not evidence, proof -- of global warming, its dangers, and the inevitable consequences if we don't start making some definitive changes. What's more, he does it in a manner that is genuinely engaging and intermittently even jovial and charming -- the lack of which was what largely killed his presidential campaign.
He comes out onto the stage and says, "I'm All Gore, I used to be the next president of the United States." He sets the tone with a small dose of self-deprecating humor, before deftly demonstrating that although he has learned not to take himself too seriously, global warming is something he takes very seriously, and so should we, and here's why.
Television director Davis Guggenheim records one of Gore's slide show presentations, and intercuts it with brief diversions in which we follow Gore around on his travels, either around the world or to the farm on which he spent childhood summers, while using Gore's soft-spoken musings about his passion for the environment as voice-over narration. Some of these diversions fall just a couple steps short of heavy-handedness, but they effectively serve their purpose in demonstrating how personal an issue this is for him. The issue of global warming has been with him for decades, back to his college professor who was the first person to propose measuring climate and temperature trends.
Believe it or not, though, An Inconvenient Truth is by far the most engaging, dynamic, and sometimes even horrifying when we're simply watching Gore give his slide show, on a stage, in front of an audience. Guggenheim turns his camera on the stage so that we in the movie theatre become a part of that audience, and we are mesmerized by the hard data he presents. If seeing is believing, then the photographs alone prove what global warming is doing to our planet.
Anyone who outright refuses to believe in global warming as theory rather than fact is likely going to be wasting their time watching this movie -- you might as well try and turn a fundamentalist Christian into an atheist in 100 minutes. But for anyone on the fence, who isn't sure what to believe -- and there are a great many -- then this movie is for you. If An Inconvenient Truth doesn't convince fence-sitters, then they weren't really sitting on the fence to begin with.
The data just can't be denied, and rarely are graphs alone used to such impressive effect. Along with showing pictures of lakes and glaciers that have all but dried up completely (many of which will indeed be completely gone within 15 years or so at the current rate of carbon emissions), Gore shows us graphs of fluctuations in worldwide average temperature, in average thickness of the ice cap at the North Pole, in levels of precipitation, in rates of meltwater runoff around the world, and more. Skeptics have a habit of saying that the world has a natural process of fluctuation and there's no proof that the currently spiking (and continuing to increase) temperatures is normal. But in every case, the lines on these graphs go off the chart in the latter half of the 20th century, going mind-bogglingly higher than the previously highest peak in the graphs, one of which actually went back hundreds of thousands of years!
"You've heard of 'off the chart'?" Gore quips, as he gets into a motorized elevator, so he can rise up along with the line as it keeps going up, far higher than we originally thought possible on the boundaries of the graph.
He goes on to shatter many of the myths surrounding the so-called "perception" of global warming, perhaps the most significant of which is the notion that we have to choose between the environment and the economy. He proceeds to make a simple and clear message about how little relevance the economy has (as in, none) if the Earth gets destroyed.
The best part of his presentation, though, is that he refuses to allow people to jump directly from complacency to despair -- and he insists there is hope. He even uses a graph to demonstrate how, with the right lifestyle changes, we can get back below current carbon emission levels by the year 2050.
Alarmists with their doomsday predictions often make the mistake of complaining about how screwed we all are, without offering any solution. But in the end, An Inconvenient Truth is very solution-oriented. Even after he demonstrates how the melting of all the ice in Greenland -- or just one section of the ice in Antarctica -- could happen rather quickly and in turn raise worldwide sea levels by at least twenty feet, he tells us what we can do to decrease the chances that it will ever happen (because, without any change, it almost certainly will at some point).
Al Gore is clearly very passionate about the environment, and is intent on shattering through the misconceptions that mainstream media consistently instills in the public about it. He references a study sampling nearly 1000 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles about global warming, which found zero scientists actually casting doubt on the truth of the matter. He then compares it to news articles on the subject, and a huge number of them that cast suspicion.
Anyone with half a brain who watches An Inconvenient Truth, however, is going to see plain as a hotter-than-normal day that this is a very real, very pressing and extraordinarily important issue. This is not a bias, it's scientific fact -- and both Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim do an exemplary job of demonstrating it.