Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH: A REVIEW

The moment you read the title of this film, you would think that it has something to do with some kinky scruples in certain amorous relationship or it’s some kind of deeply secretive political hogwash. It is most certainly not!
The film An Inconvenient Truth is a powerful and informative documentary on the most pressing environmental problem besetting the world today – Global Warming. The film was presented by former United State Vice President Al Gore and directed by Davis Guggenheim. http://www.climatecrisis.net/
After the highly controversial 2000 U.S. presidential election, George W. Bush, who narrowly won over Gore, has afterward massively destroyed much of Afghanistan and Iraq. Gore, on the other hand, has busied himself trying to save the world by being an outspoken figure against global warming and the potential environmental disastrous consequences of climate change, and re-set the course of his life to focus on an all-out effort to help save planet Earth from irrevocable damage.
The Film’s Impact
“Humanity is sitting on a time bomb.” Quite an interesting first sentence for a film synopsis, but it certainly hit the bull’s-eye. If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, as presented in An Inconvenient Truth, we have just about ten years to avert a catastrophe of planetary proportion bordering on epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced. A catastrophe that humanity had helped to create. If that sounds like a recipe for serious gloom and doom – think again!
Al Gore’s documentary film is an eye-opening and poignant portrait of the former US vice president’s “traveling global warming show.” Gore is funny, engaging, open and downright on fire about getting the surprisingly stirring truth about what he calls “planetary emergency” out to ordinary citizens. He pulls no punches in explaining the dire situation. Interspersed with the bracing facts and future predictions is the story of Al Gore’s personal journey: from an idealistic college student who first saw the looming environmental crisis; to a young senator who faced a harrowing family tragedy that altered his perspective; to the man who almost became U.S. President but instead returned to the most impassioned cause of his entire life – believing there is still time to make a difference.
The film opened in New York City and Los Angeles on May 24, 2006. On Memorial Day weekend, it grossed an average of 91,447 dollars per theater, the highest of any movie that weekend and a record for a documentary, though it was only playing on four screens at the time.
The film focuses on Al Gore and his travels in support of his efforts to educate the public about the severity of the climate crisis. “I’ve been trying to tell this story for a long time and I feel as if I’ve failed to get the message across.” The film closely follows a keynote presentation dubbed “the slide show” that Gore presented throughout the world. In the slide show Gore reviews the scientific opinion on climate change, discusses the politics and economics of global warming, and describes the consequences he believes global climate change will produce if the amount of human-generated greenhouse gases is not significantly reduced in the very near future.
With wit, smarts and hope, An Inconvenient Truth ultimately brings home Gore’s persuasive argument that global warming is simply one of the biggest moral challenges facing every person of this era, each and everyone standing on the Earth that is slowly deteriorating due to humanity’s internecine exploits.
The film sticks to the science of the issue at hand. There are charts and graphs – even cartoons – and perhaps most disturbingly, the “before and after” pictures of glaciers as they were 30 years ago and as they are today. (It gives the word “shrinkage” a whole new meaning.) If the movie comes across as alarmist, that is because the situation is indeed gravely alarming. As is pointed out, global warming is viewed within the scientific community as a fact, no longer a debatable theory. Although it deals with scientific realities, it couches its message in words and images that the layman can understand.
According to Gore the phrase “an inconvenient truth” was born from the fact that “Some truths are hard to hear, because if you really hear them – and understand that they are in fact true – then you have to change. And change can be quite inconvenient.” Based on Gore’s comprehensive research on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, the fourth highest-grossing documentary ever produced, tackles the issue from A to Z and does so in a myriad ways that makes it a thought-provoking and compelling film to watch. The documentary, however, ends in a message of hope with Gore arguing that if appropriate actions are taken soon, the effects of global warming can be successfully reversed by releasing less carbon dioxide and planting more vegetation to consume existing carbon dioxide. Gore calls upon his viewers to learn how they can help him in these efforts.
At the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, An Inconvenient Truth received three standing ovations. It was also screened at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and was the opening night film at the 27th Durban International Film Festival. The film was the most popular documentary at the 2006 Brisbane International Film Festival.
After winning the 2007 Academy Award for Documentary Feature, the Oscar was awarded to director Davis Guggenheim, who asked Gore to join him and other members of the crew on stage. Gore then gave a brief speech, saying, “My fellow Americans, people all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis. It’s not a political issue; it’s a moral issue. We have everything we need to get started, with the possible exception of the will to act. That’s a renewable resource. Let’s renew it.”
For the environmental initiative brought by An Inconvenient Truth, Gore was also awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, headed by Rajendra K. Pachauri. The award was given “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”
In his acceptance speech, Gore said: “I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This award is even more meaningful because I have the honor of sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the world’s pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis – a group whose members have worked tirelessly and selflessly for many years. We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue; it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level.”
Gore’s film and book brought fresh reawakening of environmental consciousness not only in the United States but all over the world. It can be recalled that in 1992, the United Nation Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, dubbed Earth Summit, became a major forum for conflicts between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The developing countries of the South asked the urbanized North to acknowledge the need for development strategies that would both protect the earth’s resources as well as the sovereignty of less industrialized nations.
Principle 4 of the Rio Declaration states that “environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process.” At that time, countries in Western Europe and the United States were largely unwilling to accept that manufacturing processes deemed responsible for global warming needed regulation. The European and Japanese government, influenced by Green movements, however, changed their stance and did recognize the responsibility of the industrialized countries to reduce production of damaging chemical emissions, especially those linked to global warming.
Today, 15 years after the Rio Declaration and literally thousands of political debates after, the situation is worsening. Now the threat has become imminent. The annual floods that have been inundating Europe, Asia and South America for the past decades and the super hurricanes that devastated the United States in recent years alarmed many meteorologists all over the world. These, they say, are the creeping after-effects of global warming. European meteorologists are now calling for a new global summit on climate change and a review on the stand of countries that still refuse to cooperate, especially in the banning of greenhouse gases and chlorofluorocarbon emission.
Remaining scientific uncertainties include the amount of warming expected in the future, and how warming and related changes will vary from region to region around the globe. Most national governments have signed and ratified the 2007 Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but there is ongoing political and public debate worldwide regarding what, if any, action should be taken to reduce or reverse future warming or to adapt to its expected consequences.
Gore was the main outspoken non-official representative for the United States in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, which is a series of discussions that plans to continue where the Kyoto Protocol left off when it expires in 2012.
Gore also published a book of the same title concurrent with the theatrical release of the documentary. The book contains additional information, scientific analysis, and Gore’s commentary on the issues presented in the documentary. A 2007 documentary entitled An Update with Former Vice President Al Gore features Gore discussing additional information that came to light after the film was completed, such as Hurricane Katrina, coral reef depletion around the world, glacial earthquake activity on the Greenland ice sheet, wildfires, and trapped methane gas release associated with permafrost melting.
The Associated Press contacted more than 100 climate researchers and questioned them about the film’s veracity. All 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie said that Gore conveyed the science correctly. In contrast, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, at the time chaired by rival party Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, issued a press release criticizing this article. Inhofe’s statement that “global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” appears in the film.
Despite some minor flaws and the familiarity of the material in the film, the clarity and simplicity of the presentation is remarkable. Film critics Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper gave the film “two thumbs up.” Ebert wrote: “In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.” If only the viewers learn some things about global warming, and from it grows awareness of his environment – becoming a vigilant citizen – then the movie has done a worthy job.
As in the word of Al Gore “We no longer have much time left to change – but we do have time!”

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