An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Coincidentally, on the very same day the New York Times published the final draft of the U.S. Federal Climate Change Report (a review required by law to be conducted by the National Climate Assessment every four years), I had already purchased my ticket to see An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Picking up where the 2006 Oscar winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth left off, I spent the next 100 minutes watching Former Vice President Al Gore explain the science behind the consequential evidence of global warming substantiated in that Federal report. Seeing footage of how the planet has been negatively impacted by humanity was terrifying to say the least. Despite what the climate change deniers say, An Inconvenient Sequel is no more a piece of salacious political propaganda than the Federal Climate Change Report is. The film, like the report, is a sobering call to action—designed to galvanize the human race into fighting for solutions to end global warming across party lines.
Since 2006, global warming has only gotten worse. Extreme weather patterns resulting in disproportionate increases of storms, floods and droughts are wreaking havoc on the planet. If you’ve noticed the subtle but consistent trend of usually warmer days, it isn’t a figment of your imagination. In fact, 14 of the hottest years ever recorded have taking place between 2000 and 2017—the hottest being 2016. The film is loaded with scientific, statistical proof that belabors the severity of these dangers facing our world. In an interview Al Gore recently gave Bill Maher on Real Time With Bill Maher, he said:
“Some tipping points have unfortunately been passed. I’ll give you an example—a very large part of the west Antarctica ice sheet. Just two years ago they said, okay, that’s crossed the tipping point. It is now going to be gone no matter what we do—and that actually hit me pretty hard when that news came out because it does mean there’s going to be considerable sea level rise no matter what we do. But we still have the ability to control the pace of that disappearance.”
Watching footage of ice caps melting or bodies of water disappearing as a result of global warming is unsettling for sure, but at the same time, for some people, it’s also esoteric. For many folks who criticized An Inconvenient Truth, the disastrous ramifications of falling ice and dry cracking acres of land where water has evaporated from the soil, just didn’t hit home in a tangible way. It’s a shame that it takes catastrophic events like hurricane Katrina, or the 2013 flood in the Philippines that displaced 4.1 million people, for society to grasp the seriousness of this threat to our way of life.
In the sequel, fish are swimming in the streets of Miami and women in India are abandoning their shoes in the middle of the road because the pavement is melting—causing their shoes to stick as they cross. In Pakistan they are pre-digging graves for the estimated percentage of people their government predicts will die due to drought and famine. We can also count the years of insidious drought and famine as the catalyst for the Syrian refugee crisis. When people can’t grow food to eat and industries start to collapse, social unrest and conflict are born. As we see in the case of Syria, it impacts every nation whether we like it or not. The movie drives home the imperative need for all of us to address the cause and effect of our collective actions.
After An Inconvenient Truth, Gore was harshly criticized for prophesying that the 9/11 Memorial site would flood as a result of sea level rise during a major storm. As “luck” would have it, I happened to be visiting NYC at the time. I was staying at the Mercer Hotel in Soho. The night hurricane Sandy descended on Manhattan I was sequestered in my hotel room watching the whole thing go down from my window. Just as the scientist had predicated, the streets of Soho, Tribeca, the financial district and the rest of lower Manhattan were submerged in water—including the 9/11 Memorial site.
Aside from the “I-told-you-so’s,” and the mounting evidence debunking the climate deniers as well as the horrific footage assembled, the film really tries to identify the biggest barriers to the fight against climate change. Gore asserts that we have to fix our democracy before we can really fix our environment. Gore believes oil and gas lobbyist and other special interest groups driven by financial gain, put unethical pressure on government officials that only serve to politicize the issue. The film delineates the common sense economic benefits of investing in eco-friendly innovation. Gore acknowledges that globalization has had a considerable effect on the American job market and manufacturing industries. He sees these innovations as solutions to those problems.
“Solar jobs are now growing 17 times faster than other jobs in the economy. The single fastest growing job is wind turbine technician. The real bright spot for creating jobs and higher wages is in renewable energy and the sustainability solutions. We ought to be investing in that to put more people to work…We oughta’ get back to the kind of social contract we once had to recognize that some of these economic changes are not going to be under our control—the world is moving on. But we owe it to the people who are hurt by the transition to give them the opportunities that they need to find new and better jobs,” said Gore.
Since losing the 2000 presidential election, Gore has devoted his life to raising the world’s awareness about global warming. In addition to starting a leadership-training program through his organization The Climate Reality Project, Gore has been working behind the scenes on global initiatives like the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The film demonstrates how instrumental Gore has been in changing the hearts and minds of world leaders and the practical efforts he’s made to address the financial concerns associated with reconfiguring energy programs in less solvent economies. The movie also addresses the social and political opposition other countries have toward the United States leading the charge in climate change—and understandably so, being that our carbon footprint far outweighs many of our allies and neighbors. I appreciated looking at this global issue from the perspective of other world leaders and stacking that up against the United States’ record.
Earlier this week on Monday parts of the United States happened to be in the perfect position to see the solar eclipse. This auspicious window hasn’t happened in over 100 years. Given the purchase of thousands of special viewing glasses and massive amounts of people gathering together to see it, it was clear that outer space activity still inspires awe and excitement in the majority of people. Personally, I got a little giddy watching the moon pass over the sun through my eclipse glasses—the sun momentarily reduced to the shape of a crescent. The magnitude of the moment began to hit me and I was reminded of An Inconvenient Sequel.
I started thinking about the people who live in major cities in China under clouds of gray smog where they need to wear masks over their mouths to protect their lungs. What if the best place to view the total solar eclipse last Monday happened to be in Beijing, China? Because of manmade pollution, the Chinese wouldn’t have been able to see it. Just imagine if our entire atmosphere was so saturated with human pollution that we no longer could see the sky? It’s bad enough that at night in Los Angeles—even up in the Hollywood Hills, we can’t see stars with the naked eye due to all the city lights. It would be absolutely heartbreaking to get to the point where the sun and moon were entirely obstructed from view because of our collective refusal to be inconvenienced by the necessary adjustments required to protect our environment.
If you are at all concerned with reversing the effects of climate change and seeing how the problem has progressed, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power is a riveting account of what it’s been like on the frontline of the global warming battle. You’ll learn a great deal about the cause and how to personally get involved.
To close on an optimistic note, when describing the measure of gloom and doom associated with our current climate crisis, Gore offered these words of encouragement: “Have we crossed a point of no return where this thing spins out of control? The scientist still tell us no, we have not gotten to that point. We can still avoid the most catastrophic consequences if we start acting boldly now—and we have begun to start.”