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More on Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth

May 10, 2007

This is my week for thinking about environmental issues and history. On Monday I discussed the idea of using Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, in classrooms. On Tuesday I posted a story about the conflicting interests of business (Midwest Generation) and the people of Illinois with regard to Chicagoland’s waterways. Today I found an enlightening review of Gore’s movie – by an author, Jacob Foster, who has also read the book (I have not).

The review addresses another topic discussed here in early February: non-linearity. My winter post discussed non-linear thinking, but the review discusses non-linear systems. You’ll see in the review why the old post came to mind.

In the Monday post, I mentioned the occasional political jabs by Gore in the film. By way of a teaser to the longer review, here’s what Foster wrote on that subject, as well as what uplifts the film overall (bolds are mine):

“Viewers of An Inconvenient Truth cannot help but indulge in a game of ‘what if’, perhaps unfairly pitting the born-again Gore of 2006 against the tremendously unpopular and beleagured President of the same year. The movie only gestures indirectly at such speculations, and Gore is generally delicate in his book regarding the current administration. He does not, however, spare the brimstone in indicting the White House’s contemtible and contemptuous attitude towards the truths of science (for example, the hiring of oil-company stooge Philip Cooney as chief of staff for the White House environment office). More cutting is Gore’s evisceration of the cynical campaign to sow doubt in the minds of voters regarding climate change. To illustrate the perfidy of these latter-day sophists, Gore points to an internal memo from a coalition of special interest groups pushing global warming skepticism. This memo states as the coalition’s objective to ‘reposition global warming as theory, rather than fact.’ The crass stink of Madison Avenue wafting off the memo recalls other famously malodourous public disinformation campaigns: the sulphrous reek of Big Tobacco’s timeless cancer coverup, and the barnyard tang of the more recent Intelligent Design circus. Gore has the anger of a zealot for the charlatan science of global warming skeptics. Indeed, one of Gore’s most endearing traits, apparent in the book but obvious in the film, is his tremendous respect for scientific truth. For every moment of Gore playing the professor is a moment where he becomes a boundlessly enthusiastic prize pupil. This is in sharp, tragic contrast to the hedging of President Bush, who is happy to be undecided about evolution in the face of all those facts as long as it is politically expedient to do so.”

And here’s one more paragraph on the transcendent aspects of the book and movie:

“What elevates the book, and the movie, is the way that Gore’s personal story and the story of climate change move in carefully orchestrated counterpoint to articulate a vision of hope and a challenge for the future. If Gore indulges in fear-mongering, it is not the cheap partisan tactic that promises a war that will not end against an enemy that cannot be defined. Gore defines the enemy—and it is us. He promises a war, but it is a war against the darker aspects of human nature, the selfish, shortsighted worldview that drives us to plunder now at the expense of our neighbors and our children. Gore’s battle will be fought in the halls of Congress, and in corporate boardrooms; but also in our voting booths, at our dinner tables, on our electricity bills. An Inconvenient Truth provides the explicit marching orders in great detail, particularly the book (the final seventeen ‘green pages’ of tips justify the purchase entirely). But it is the film that calls out most clearly the moral challenge—and offers up Gore as an example.”

. . . Happy reading. – TL

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