Green in the City

Movie review: 'An Inconvenient Truth' **1/2


By Safiya Merchant


When the hype of the masses surrounds a film such as “An Inconvenient Truth,” it’s important to give the film a second look to gauge its true value.


A serene river and one of the most important insights into the human condition constitute the opening sequence in “An Inconvenient Truth,” former Vice President Al Gore’s 2006 attempt to debunk the myths surrounding global warming. He says we, as humans, often look at nature and wonder, “Oh, yeah, I forgot about this.” With technology fueling our every move, it is hard to deny we have lost recognition of earth’s most primitive habitat, the natural environment.


On April 3, 1989, Gore’s 6-year-old son was hit by a car and sent to the hospital. Gore describes the experience as an inspiration for re-evaluating his position on this planet, and to fight for the environment.


“An Inconvenient Truth” covers many topics, such as the frailty of the earth’s atmosphere, melting glaciers and tropical storms. According to Gore, 40 percent of the world population attains its drinking water from rivers fed by more than half of the glaciers’ meltwater. So the water supply will be drastically affected if the glaciers cease to exist. Another unfortunate result of rising water temperatures is stronger storms, such as Hurricane Katrina. When Katrina hit Florida, it was a Category One hurricane. But as it moved toward New Orleans—over warmer waters—its wind velocity and moisture content increased, becoming the catastrophe that dominated TV screens for weeks.


“An Inconvenient Truth” is an inconvenient film. It grabs viewers by the hair, forcing them to see the flaws in so many beliefs about this environmental issue. Gore uses graphics, facts, personal stories and even cartoons to expose the truth.


Although Gore’s attempts can be admired, I don’t think the graphics help spread the truth about global warming. They dehumanize the truth, reducing it to a mathematical equation. Human opinion and interviews about global warming would have made the film come to life, driving Gore’s message home.


The so-called potential victims of global warming never get a chance to speak. Because the film revolves around Gore speaking to a nameless audience in a dark room, it often feels like a publicity stunt for Gore—and so undercuts its message. For example, he shows before-and-after pictures of Mount Kilimanjaro and other landforms to demonstrate the deterioration of our planet. Asking those who lived near the mountain if this deterioration affected their present lives would have been more effective.


Despite these flaws, “An Inconvenient Truth” is worth the watch. It does provide information on a topic that is often ignored. For his part, Gore contends choosing to solve global warming “is not a political issue so much as a moral issue.” He says letting the environment continue to decay would be deeply “unethical.”


Throughout “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore draws upon historical quotes like this from Winston Churchill: “We are entering a period of consequences.” Like Churchill, Gore knows that we have created— and now must deal with— our own period of consequences. According to Gore, to erase the pain man has inflicted on the environment, we must change our harmful lifestyles immediately.


Time will tell if the world will choose to heed his warning.

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