An Inconvenient Truth

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Al Gore giving his "slide show" in 2006
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An Inconvenient Truth is a 2006 liberal atheist Californian[1] hippie green propaganda documentary documenting Al Gore's campaign to educate citizens about global warming via a comprehensive slide show, which he had shown thousands of times. Laurie David was so impressed with Al Gore's campaign (which started on the day The Day After Tomorrow) that Gore decided to turn it into a film. As the 10th best documentary film in the US, it has raised international awareness of climate change and environmentalism in general. A book of the same name was published at about the same time the film was released.[2]

Not surprisingly, when the film started being shown on schools' science curriculum, it generated controversy for teaching kids liberalism.

Origins of the film[edit]

Al Gore was long interested in global warming after taking a course with professor Roger Revelle, one of the first professors to measure CO2 in the atmosphere.[3] After writing the book Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, and after losing to the future president of Jesusland, George W. Bush, he returned to environmental awareness and presented these facts around the US thousands of times.[4] From this slide show, the movie emerged.

Points in the film[edit]

Al Gore presents his film in an easy to understand format so as to reach the maximum number of people (though most of the film was dedicated to the disappearing ice on Earth). Here are the key points in the film:

  • 5:15 — Al Gore in his slide show presents the modern environmental movement.
  • 8:14 — Emphasis is put on the most vulnerable part of the Earth to human damage, the atmosphere (scientifically it's the troposphere, since most climate happens there).
  • 10:00 — A thickening atmosphere is generally bad for the Earth: when humans emit greenhouse gases, the gases trap heat in and prevent its escape. For this, things like carbon taxes and the Kyoto Protocol were created to help offset that.
  • 16:47 — Many of the world's glaciers are retreating, including Glacier AX010 in Nepal, where a lot of drinking water comes from. Al Gore told a personal story of how accurate the bubbles in Antarctic ice as a measure of air quality is, and from this researchers were able to tell when exactly the US Clean Air Act passed.
  • 20:45 — In here, Al Gore put in statistics to show his point about global temperature rises. Al Gore debunks "skeptics" who claim that the temperature cycles are "cyclical" and are nothing to worry about. However, he points out that there is a strong relationship between temperature and CO2 since the cyclical curves line up quite nicely. In the modern period, CO2 parts per million has gone well above 300, a number that the Earth has never experienced before until now. Again, he debunks "skeptics" on this matter, though vaguely.
  • 25:25 — Democracy is a flawed system (as is any form of government) for passing beneficial laws, as various instances of politicians refusing to understand such a matter passed by his terms in government. Also, the 10 hottest years on the planet at 2005 happened within the last 14 years.
  • 30:00 — Al Gore presents global warming as not just a phenomenon where the climate changes rapidly to a higher temperature, but where it changes entire climates of the world, period. Wild temperatures and temperature increases cause hurricanes, tornadoes, and typhoons in the U.S. In fact, textbooks never have shown hurricanes as a possible issue in the South Atlantic, but it happened all of a sudden.
  • 37:19 — Higher precipitation (rain) obviously means more water pumped at the same time, but the cause is, of course, global warming. Countries like India and China experienced devastating floods, while their neighbors had severe droughts (the water has to come from somewhere). The drought causes soil erosion through soil evaporation, which further ruins agriculture.
  • 42:30 — Permafrost is soil frozen for several years, but once it melts because of some extreme change in weather, its stability decreases. This is exactly what is happening now, where trees, houses, and structures in general collapse randomly due to weakened ground support.
  • 44:30 — Sea-to-ice extent severely decreased. This is a problem because (1) H2O traps in heat and (2) the ice itself reflects the Sun's rays. This is a positive feedback loop, where the overly-warm water of the world evaporates, then the water vapor acts as a greenhouse gas, thereby trapping in more heat from the sun (with no ice to reflect back the rays), thereby heating up the world more, thereby evaporating more water, and so on and so forth. Because of the disappearing ice sheets, scientists are actually finding drowned polar bears! On average, the world is at 58°F, and the ocean currents of the world act as a conveyor belt for heat. Because of this, temperature has a multiplicative effect, where 1°F↑ at the equator makes 12°F↑ at the pole. Freshwater from Canada, found trapped in the ice, can cause an ice age for Europe if the ice holding it bursts because freshwater halts the thermal conveyor belt.
  • 50:00 — Al Gore sadly admits the US contributes the most to this global phenomenon and not many people are willing to listen to him, as climate change is seen as a huge hoax.
  • 51:51 — A devastating direct problem to humanity, tied to melting ice and changing temperatures, is the change of biomes and seasons. Because of these, vectors for disease (mosquitoes, etc.) spread due to facilitated migration and elevated biomes. In fact, some ancient diseases that were supposedly under control are now out of control, like Ebola or malaria.
  • 55:00 — Ice shelves steadily disappear due to global warming. Land-based ice, if melted, will increase the sea level by 20 ft. Note that this is not referring to sea-based ice: if that were to melt, no volume would be displaced and so no sea-level rise will occur. If land-based ice were to melt, maps would have to be redrawn: Florida, San Francisco, and The Netherlands (all heavily populated areas) would all be submerged in water in a flood. Even the World Trade Center, previously hit by terrorists, would flood. At this point Al Gore asks a rhetorical question: if we worry so much about us getting destroyed by terrorists why not fear climate change too if the World Trade Center will be destroyed either way?
  • 1:02:00 — Both the US and China use old technology, which is very inefficient and therefore wasteful and environmentally degrading.
  • 1:04:20 — Population: developed countries like Japan and the US have stable populations. (Though, for the record, this claim about Japan is plain wrong.Wikipedia's W.svg) The contrapositive of it is also true because underdeveloped countries are pressured to have more children due to their poverty, and this is a problem because these poor people rely on old technology like biomass for energy, which contributes heavily towards climate change. Al Gore then proceeds to discuss the use of technology: using new technology along with practicing old habits will lead to incredibly amplified consequences over before. Rivers never reach the sea nowadays, and the U.S. contributes the most to global warming.
  • 1:09:09 — Al Gore uses the frog in boiling water analogy to compare the world's blindness to climate change.
  • 1:12:45 — Scientific journals agree that climate change is an issue. From the 928 articles about climate change published by scientists, none disagreed, and there's no such thing as a "controversy" here. This "controversy" was created by a small group of people with a political agenda. Al Gore then compares this to a Camel Cigarette advertisement in which it claimed that doctors agree cigarettes are good for you.
  • 1:16:02 — There was a real government conspiracy back then used to silence the truth for their own political agenda. Al Gore quotes:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.
—Upton Sinclair
. Also, Al Gore shows how ridiculous it is to have to chose between the Earth and the economy, and how there has to be a "balance" between the two.
  • 1:21:23 — Progressively, the US is far behind in the environment, as other countries with lower GDPs have better environmental standards. For example, mileage standards in the US are among the lowest, and car dealerships would actually do better sales-wise if the mileage were better.
  • 1:25:00 — Finally, Al Gore uses rhetorical analogies between political movements (such as civil rights). At this point Gore pumps up his audience to do a better job at protecting the environment.

Denialist "debunkings"[edit]

While the movie was generally praised for alerting its audiences about the real threat of global warming, it didn't go without its obvious set of denialists. Ronald Bailey in the libertarian media Reason (magazine) said "Gore gets [the science] more right than wrong" but exaggerates the risks,[5] and an actual MIT physicist named Richard Lindzen asserted that Al Gore was being biased for his own political gain[6] (as if that gave him right to publish in the Wall Street Journal). One of the more reasonable arguments is that the documentary never mentions the threats to the indigenous peoples (particularly Arctic natives) that are faced with global warming.[7]

Sequel[edit]

Yup, there's supposed to be a sequel, considering the ceaseless extreme weather conditions for the planet Earth.

References[edit]

  1. For the record, Gore's home state is Tennessee
  2. An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Al Gore, 2006, Rodale Books. ISBN 1594865671.
  3. http://news.moviefone.com/2006/01/26/sundance-an-inconvenient-truth-q-and-a-al-gore-on-fire-no-rea/
  4. http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/14.05/gore_pr.html
  5. http://web.archive.org/web/20061226230307/http://reason.com/news/show/116471.html
  6. http://www.epw.senate.gov/fact.cfm?party=rep&id=257863
  7. Dunaway, Finis (2015). Seeing Green: The Use And Abuse Of American Environmental Images.