Al Gore: Nothing is Scarier Than an Inconvenient Truth

It was controversial, scary, inconvenient…. But, above all, it was true. Directed by Davis Guggenheim, the documentary we are talking about today is about climate change or global warming. The film starred the former vice president of the United States and its major feat was to catch people’s attention. Can you guess the subject of this blog post? Of course, it is about Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.

The documentary was launched in 2006, but is just a piece of a much larger puzzle. Everything started in 1989, when Al Gore made his first presentations about climate change. Describing himself as the one who “used to be the next President of the United States”, the environmentalist uses his political position to make a kind of apology: “I’ve been trying to tell this story for a long time and I feel as if I’ve failed to get the message across”.

With that statement he introduces the idea that the problem of global warming has long been here, but we have chosen to ignore it – at least until recently. Like him, we have not done enough, so it is time to act. Without any excuses, it’s time to face an inconvenient truth. During this article, we’ll analyse the context of the documentary, its implications and the critics’ reception. Before that, we invite you to watch the official trailer.

Why Does Al Gore Care About This Inconvenient Truth?

Al Gore’s interest in environmental subjects started when he was a young university student. At the time he decided to attend a lecture by Roger Revelle, a professor from Harvard who stood out as one of the first men capable of measuring the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. After that, Al Gore’s eldest sister died of lung cancer, one fact that raised his awareness even more, considering that the disease could have been caused or worsened by pollution.


“An Inconvenient Truth” DVD

The environmentalist descends from a family of tobacco farmers, which decided to change business after the death of Nancy Gore Hunger, the sister who was also one of the first women to graduate from Vanderbilt University Law School. This life story is a real example and balances the heavy scientific facts with the real impact of the climate change on our daily lives.

The slideshow presented in “An Inconvenient Truth” is rich on detailed graphs, charts and images, showing the differences between the now and before in a number of regions, like Patagonia or the Kilimanjaro. There are also pictures from space and references to pop culture icons, such as the Simpsons of Futurama’s episode “Crimes of the Hot”.

According to Al Gore, the decision to pursue a career in environmentalism came after the loss of the 2000 presidential elections. In his own words, the greenhouse effect and the protection of the environment are not political issues: they’re moral. Instead of saying that global warming is caused naturally, the former vice president stressed that we are responsible for our own acts, saying that everyone has their own share in the matter.

The documentary refers to real examples of how the greenhouse effects and the rise of temperatures can cause disasters like Hurricane Katrina, ending with a positive message that we can change our ways. During the final credits, “An Inconvenient Truth” presents tips like buying a hybrid vehicle, recycling or simply “encourage everyone you know to watch this movie”.

The Road to “An Inconvenient Truth”

Like we previously said, Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr’s had his first contact with the environmental issues when he was still a young student. When in Congress, he started approaching the subject around 1981. At the time he became Vice President of the Clinton Administration he had already published “Earth in Balance”, a book which was among the New York Times’ bestsellers.

As vice president, Al Gore had an important role in the implementation of green measures (like encouraging the use of alternative fuel) and was in favour of the Kyoto Protocole, which (against his will) wasn’t signed by the United States. This was a drag on his candidature for the presidency in 2000.

After being defeated by George W. Bush, Al Gore started investing his time in the environmental crusade. It was then that he created his famous slideshow, result of 10 years of research. When the film debuted in the movie theatres, the presentation had already been showed at least one thousand times.

The idea to adapt the presentation to create a movie was not from Al Gore. Instead, it came from Laurie David, an environmentalist and movie producer who attended one of the lectures after watching “The Day After Tomorrow”. The science-fiction movie was released in 2004 and shows the end of the world due to natural catastrophes. After the presentation, David decided to gather a team (which included Jeffrey Skoll and Lawrence Bender) and proposed a partnership with Al Gore. At first, the environmentalist was reluctant but, after some persuasion, he was convinced that the documentary would be a good way of spreading his message.

Reviews and Criticism Around the Movie

An Inconvenient Truth” debuted on May 24 in 2006 in New York City and Los Angeles. After conquering the United States, the documentary became a global phenomenon and was presented at international festivals, such as the Cannes Film Festival or the Brisbane International Film Festival. Sales-wise the film was a huge success, reaching the top ten of documentaries of the United States which sold the most.

“An Inconvenient Truth” Book

“An Inconvenient Truth” Book

Despite minor criticism, “An Inconvenient Truth” had positive reactions. In the website Rotten Tomatoes, it was considered “certified fresh”, rating 93%. Journalists, experts in cinema and environmentalists praised the role of the film in catching the audience’s attention in a scary and still brilliant way. It even won two Academy Awards: the first for the Best Documentary and the second for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song (with Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need to Wake Up”).

The hardest criticism came from scientific and political experts. Some said that Al Gore presented an exaggerated view of the facts, which aren’t as bad as he describes them. Another said that the documentary was an attempt by Al Gore to create a positive opinion for himself and then use it to become a candidate to the United States presidency once again.

Confronted with his former opponent’s documentary, George W. Bush was asked if he would see “An Inconvenient Truth”. “Doubt it”, he answered. Later, the controversy led him to say that it was important to look to the greenhouse effect and analyse whether or not it was caused by men or nature. Al Gore criticized the statement, arguing that there is a scientific consensus, according to which “human beings are responsible for global warming”.

An Inconvenient Truth” is also the title of a book written by Al Gore and published together with the film. Like the documentary, the book has several pictures, charts, several facts and perspectives about the subjects such as global warming, climate change and greenhouse gas effect. The work as environmentalism gave Al Gore the Nobel Peace Prize of 2007, shared with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan Kohli
Gayrajan is a staunch solar promoter, serial entrepreneur & management consultant. He has a decade of experience in solar PV, disruptive technologies and political consultancy in USA and India. He believes that development of solar and other renewable technologies is critical to India's energy security. Gayrajan holds a Masters and a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering from USA. Follow him on Twitter to gain daily industry insights.
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