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“An Inconvenient Truth”: Al Gore’s global warming movie delivers the goods

Vice President Gore and Tipper outside the Guild Theatre. Image Courtesy Tom at TED blogTry to imagine 50 Silicon Valley leaders sitting on the edge of their chairs for a nailbiting, 90-minute powerpoint presentation. In the land of “10 slides and you’re out,” filmmaker Lawrence Bender has accomplished something very special — bringing the passion of Vice President Gore’s live talk on global warming to the screen in a way that feels completely natural and emotionally engaging. “An Inconvenient Truth” and its companion action site promise to change the way America thinks about global warming (you can see the somewhat overheated trailer here).

I’ve seen Gore deliver his talk twice, and I’ve always wished more people had seen it. Much of the movie covers the same content: a highly convincing review of the science of climate change, and a wide-ranging discussion of the concrete and near-term effects climate change will have on our lives. Gore has given the talk over 1,000 times, and Bender does a great job of interweaving multiple presentations to give you a sense of just what kind of mission Gore is on.

It’s not the Gore you thought you knew. He is genuine and funny and open enough that you feel you are getting to know him, right from the opening line: “Hi, I’m Al Gore and I used to be the next president of the United States.”

Bender weaves numerous anecdotes into the film, including the trials and tribulations of Gore’s personal and political life. What struck me is just how connected Gore has been to global warming, and just how long he has been on this crusade. In the 1960s, Gore studied under Roger Revelle at Harvard University, the man credited with firing the opening shot in the debate over global warming.

The film makes an impact. As the Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen states in his review, “Only a fool would ignore Gore on global warming.”

I couldn’t help feeling a little despondent at the end of this preliminary cut. This is a film that shows melting glaciers, ice shelves disintegrating, animations of major cities around the world flooding, real images of extreme weather events, and other gloomy visions of the future. Fortunately, Gore has teamed up with Participant Productions on a social campaign site that promises to show us some possible solutions.

By the looks of the recent traffic stats, the buzz is building. We’re hopeful that in addition to waking up Americans about global warming, we can also move on to positive action.

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