Friday, June 02, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth: A Different Perspective

A friend and ATS reader recently saw An Inconvenient Truth and sent along a synopsis that offered up a perspective that I had neither heard nor read before. Mostly, reviews have focused on Gore and his newly-minted image as international man-of-action, either praising that or ridiculing it. In the current, charged political climate, this was, unfortunately, expected.

Having previously worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Pete has an interesting take on the film itself, as opposed to ensconcing it in the larger political realm, which is generally hostile to most of what Gore does. Hostile, that is, when their not ignoring him completely.
An Inconvenient Truth alternates between Al Gore's excellent laptop-powered presentation (calling this a "slide show" is an insult to Gore and to Apple), behind-the-scenes shots of Al on tour dubbed with his personal reflections, and his career-spanning crusade to overcome political inertia on the problem.

I have read and studied about climate change, and worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and this is the best presentation of its kind I have ever seen. Gore offers up new data and better visualizations of older data, including polar ice thickness measurements made by military submarines, over a half million year's worth of atmospheric CO2 measurements, and stunning images of the Larsen B ice shelf disintegration, to name a few. He manages to present this disheartening picture with humor - although his own delivery was better than a superfluous and ham-fisted Groenigesque animation - and without sounding shrill. In fact, when he quotes Winston Churchill, I found myself wishing he'd put some rage into his voice.

It is my own feeling that we are about 30 years too late, and his presentation is weighted on the side of a wake-up call. Gore comes across as a man disillusioned in the political process, as no one in the world has a better right to be. Still, he leaves us with some hope that if we all do our part in generating political pressure and taking individual action, we might be able to mitigate the near certain upheaval modern civilization faces. Gore points out that we already have most of the technical solutions and that all we lack is political will. "People have a way of going from denial to despair...without stopping in the middle to try and do something about the problem". For a start, go to the movie's website and pledge to see this accessible and important film as it opens this weekend.
Honestly, I hadn't been too worked up about the film -- I really don't need convincing -- and read some reviews that claimed Gore spent the entire movie grandstanding, which he may well do. But after reading Pete's review and how impressed he was with the data presentation, I now intend to see it.


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