AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


                 

                 Who is it who said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win?”  Al Gore is approaching stage four.   Committed to computer science and the environment for years, he has brought one to bear on the other in a striking mix of slides, photographs, and narration that will speed the country’s move toward green living.  “An Inconvenient Truth” will stun you out of your torpor.

This country didn’t withdraw suddenly from the Vietnam War on a wave of idealism.  It was the drafting of young Americans that forced us to examine a cause that had become transparent in its wrong-headedness.  What draft-like event can wake us up to this environmental crisis?  Katrina?  Almost, but New Orleans isn’t central enough to our economy to shake the whole nation for longer than a year or so.  It most probably will take a destructive hit in the belly of the unbelieving beast to force us to do what we need to do.  New York, San Francisco.  Gore asks whether we are capable of rising above our easy personal choices.  Right now, we are all still planning vacations.  Is corporate America embarrassed that Toyotas and Hondas are the cars of choice?  Does our arrogance allow us to think we are immune? 

Gore says that accelerated melting of the ice masses in Antarctica, Greenland, Alaska, and Chile will cause sea level to rise twenty feet by mid-century, destroying land where millions of people now live.  He is not talking about beach houses that shouldn’t have been built; he is talking about the loss and displacement of millions of people and the destruction of the economies of many nations.  He is not talking just about animals that will become extinct or new diseases already on the way.   He is talking about our coasts, about Europe, about the possible and eventual destruction of the earth. “We are witnessing a collision between our civilization and the earth.”  He believes we can reverse it.

After giving this slide show 1000 times, he says mournfully, “I have failed to get my message across.”  Not quite.  Even if he is preaching to his own choir, Gore’s film may well incite those believers to action.  With new unanimity about the threat in the scientific community, the challenge is to separate truth from fiction with sound science at a time when we have at hand everything we need to solve the problem except the political will.  “Political will is a renewable resource,” Gore says.  Is this a campaign film?  Maybe, and what’s wrong with that?    

It doesn’t matter if this movie eventually serves a political interest.  We have been asking for national leadership, and here it is in a polished, frightening, but still optimistic film.  Yes, it’s a call to action, but it is a call to everyone on the planet.  In a very simple sentence, Al Gore reminds us, “The earth is our only home.” 


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