An Inconvenient Truth, the highly publicized documentary from former vice president Al Gore, approaches the subject of global warming from two perspectives. The first of these is the scientific evidence behind global warming theory (now moved into the realm of fact). Beneath the scientific evidence of global consequences, Gore weaves the personal impact of the problem. The two perspectives combined create a terrifying image and a powerful call to action.
Footage of drought-stricken nations, increasingly dangerous storms worldwide, and rapidly melting glaciers and ice caps contrast with the serene images of a gently flowing river, a bountiful forest against a backdrop of rolling hills, and photographs of our plant from space. The former serves as a slap in the face, providing tremendous, visual evidence to support the conclusions and future predictions of the scientific community. The latter shows us just what is at stake.
The backdrop of the entire documentary is the story of how Al Gore became involved in the fight to stop (or slow down) the global warming process. Gore discusses his personal and political history with surprisingly little bitterness. His straightforward approach to the political indifference in the United States increases the urgency of the viewer to hear the call to action implicit in the film.
The film approaches several aspects of global warming including the effects on sea level, weather patterns, forest fires, and ecosystem survival. It also touches on involuntary contributions to the problem by means of economic perspective, poverty, and personal habits. The portrayal of all these and other issues charts a cause-and-effect system that is frightening at best.
Equally important, Gore is unafraid to approach the issue of American disinterest and the result of American consumerism. The film provides straightforward and uncontradicted statistics comparing United States involvement in the problem with that of other countries. For example, it is a little known fact that U.S. cars don’t reach the emissions standards of most developed countries—including China.
Contrasting U.S. contributions to global warming (30%, more than any other country in the world), the film highlights how little we have done to be part of the solution. The U.S. remains one of only two countries to not ratify the Kyoto Treaty, an international effort to reduce global warming pollutants. However, Gore does give credit to a number of U.S. states and cities that have ratified the treaty on their own.
An Inconvenient Truth is by far the most globally relevant documentary to come out of the United States in several years. Backed by science and given depth through personal experience and implications, this film is a powerful call to action and a significant contribution to the American consciousness.
Content: 5 Performance: NA Technical Merit: 4
Significance Factor: 5 Inspiration Factor: 5