Sunday, June 11, 2006

"An Inconvenient Truth"

Saw "An Inconvenient Truth" today at one of San Diego's few indie multiplexes: they were showing the film on three of their five screens at staggered half-hour intervals. The website for the film (more or less -- promises an "intellectually exhilarating" experience. It is not. What it does do is provide some cold hard numbers, supplemented with depressing pictures via the most badass Proxima presentation, like, ever, that support what most thinking people already know. Sadly, the people who need to see it most -- e.g., the Bush Administration -- won't go within a 5-mile radius of a theater-screen on which the film is being shown. Even more sadly, Bush's supporters amongst the hoi polloi won't see it either, on the assumption that it's a political screed.

Occasionally, it does sink to this level. One wishes that Gore and his putative director, Davis Guggenheim, had avoided the cheap appeals for the sympathy of the liberal members of the audience (which is to say, the entire audience). At one point, Guggeneheim utilizes quick-cuts of stock news footage that bring back the heartbreaking and infuriating outcome of the 2000 presidential election. After which, Gore in voice-over whispers sadly, "It was a big blow."

Yah. Problem is, the ones who need to be convinced of Gore's thesis will promptly tune out if they hadn't already. His global-warming road-show already comes across as quixotic enough, not to mention ever-so-slightly self-serving, without the addition of sour grapes. I realize it's probably useless to ask a former Vice President to leave politics out entirely, especially given the circumstances of the 2000 election, but it's critical that the denizens of the fly-over states get Gore's message about global warming without finding that message easy to dismiss as the ravings of a political loser. The evidence appears to be irrefutable, presented in charts lovely enough to warrant praise, I daresay, from Edward Tufte. (At one point, Gore ascends what appears to be a hydraulic platform and raises himself up about 15 or 20 feet, jabbing at a bright yellow dot indicating the world's population by 2050.) Satellite images of the melting away of Arctic and Antarctic ice-pack, along with a rushing river of melting ice in the middle of Greenland's tundra, demolish the arguments against the presence of global warming. Gore draws a compelling and personal comparison of the global warming "debate" (a debate mostly manufactured by reactionary oil interests and their lackeys in government) with the ill effects of cigarette smoking: his father, Senator Albert Gore, Sr., owned a tobacco farm, and his sister, a life-long smoker, died young from lung cancer. After which, Gore, Sr. quit farming tobacco. Gore, Jr.'s point is that the obvious needs to be driven home, usually in agonizing spades, before people change their habits and minds. What he hopes is that Florida isn't half-submerged by a rising sea before people realize that global warming isn't just liberal propaganda designed to checkmate the retirement bonuses of our admirable oil company executives.

Gore is asking us to make global warming a moral issue, to which I say: Hallelujah. My advice? Get your Gore on and see "An Inconvenient Truth", even if you're so well-versed in the topic that it would seem to be remedial education. And drag someone along who is ambivalent or even hostile to the notion of global warming.

A final thought: Gore seems quite fat and happy in this film. I hope the success he's generated with this project doesn't encourage him to run for President in '08 . . . unless he's clearly polling higher than Hillary by the end of '07, of course. In any event, he looks like a man at peace with himself. Stay happy, Al: don't run. Unless you have to. (And I'll suspect you'll have to.)


At 9:10 PM, Blogger Marian The said...

Dude, you linked to me! You rule.
But I think the yellow dot 15-20 feet up was representative of CO2 levels, not population.


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