Tuesday, 17 October 2006

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Truth or consequences!

Watching this documentary, you will come to the realisation that losing the US presidential election in 2000 was the best thing that ever happened to Al Gore. He has a sense of humour now, speaks in a genial and relaxed manner, and introduces himself publicly as "the man who was the next President of the United States".

Although he’s not a scientist, Gore learnt about global warming while taking a course at Harvard under the scientist Roger Revelle, and has kept up-to-date with since then. Gore’s political career as a congressman, senator, and vice-president consisted of patiently organising hearings by leading climate scientists, pushing for climate reform policies, and making detailed speeches to a crowd of legislators who remained unappreciative, sceptical, and in denial of the real and very dire problem.

Al Gore has won by losing the elections. He now spends his time travelling around the planet giving public presentations (last count: over 1000) about global warming to lots of people. Those are people who can be swayed by the generous body of evidence Gore marshals to his cause. Those are people who can be jolted into enacting change or to lobby their leaders to change. You could be one of them. In fact, this movie is a compilation of the same presentation Al Gore gave to different audiences in 2004-5, spliced with cuts to the environmental crusader explaining his decision to embark on this mission while at work, in his Tennessee ranch home, and in his travels around the world.

For what is essentially a 100 minute Keynote presentation, Al Gore puts his case in an easy-going manner, like a good-natured uncle having a chat with a favourite nephew or niece. At no point does the allegedly ponderous politician come across as tedious, patronising, superior, or insincere. Gore just simply shows us the facts – the statistical trends, the before and after photographs of ice caps in Greenland and Antartica, the increasingly severe and unpredictable climate patterns (droughts in Africa, hurricanes in New Orleans and Brazil) – explains how these facts fit in with global warming, why the current observed weather trends should be a cause for worry, and why we need to act sooner rather than later. For dessert, Gore also explains why the global warming issue hasn’t been reported, and reported accurately in the media, who continue to insist, completely without basis, that global warming is merely a theory whose existence isn’t supported by that many scientists.

Remember, it’s just one man and lots of animated Keypoint slides. You might step into this movie as a sceptic yourself, but after that many photographs, charts, projections, testimonies from respected and peer-reviewed scientists, and (most importantly) South Park cartoons, you might want to accept all this is incontrovertible proof of global warming. Far more incontrovertible than say, Colin Powell’s claim of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in the UN Security Council.

You will be sceptical and amused. Then, you will be shock and awed by the evidence. Then, you might be angry at why nothing has been done to address this in a serious manner – especially while we still are capable of solving the problem entirely. If you take this movie serious and do your part to reduce global warming, then this may be the ultimate triumph of the human race. If Al Gore can reach out to thousands with his travelling presentation, imagine the real change he can do by reaching out to millions with this movie.

Watch it, then ask your local cinema distributor why they aren’t bringing in Who Killed The Electric Car?, and then your local politician what measures Singapore will be instituting to implement the full Kyoto Protocol.

3 Things I learnt from this movie

1. American automobile manufacturers cannot sell their vehicles in the PRC because they fall short of Chinese emissions standards.

2. It is actually not difficult to reduce global warming right now. It just takes a little political will from our leaders.

3. They actually managed to fix the ozone layer problem! (see point 2)

1 Thing I learnt, but not from this movie

Singapore has the highest per capita energy consumption in East Asia – higher than South Korea, and the highest per capita carbon emissions in East Asia – higher than Taiwan.

First published at incinemas on 26 October 2006

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