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The inconvenience of being doomed

  • 10 August 2017


An inconvenient sequel. PG. Starring: Al Gore. Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk. 98 min.

'The evening news has become like a nature hike through the Book Of Revelations,' says Al Gore, the politician-cum-climate activist who made waves with his Oscar-winning 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. His latest film, the follow up aptly called An Inconvenient Sequel, has some positive elements, yet like its precursor, leaves something to be desired. While horrible weather events can feel apocalyptic, it is arguable whether the dramatic tones Gore employs is ultimately helpful to his cause.

Certainly, as Gore alludes to in the film, 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001—with 2016 being the hottest yet. Global sea levels rose approximately 8 inches in the 20th century, yet the rate in the last two decades—not even a quarter of a century—is nearly double that amount.

Figures like that, when properly understood, are disturbing enough and require no hyperbole. Yet Gore is a former politician used to performing, and as such he puts on a show to make his point. In the US especially, it seems that immediate and dramatic consequences work best to get traction on environmental issues.

One example (from this article about America’s struggle to face up to climate change) is the Cuyahoga River fire in 1969. The river, in Cleveland, actually caught fire because of extraordinary water pollution. The horror of the spectacle prompted widespread support for the creation of the Clean Water Act. It’s possible the theatrics of Gore’s latest film could have a rousing effect for the good of the cause.

As the camera lingers on Greenland’s ice melting in forceful torrents, gushing through the widening holes and channels, Gore makes a comment about its likeness to Swiss cheese. The scientist, a Swiss himself, remarks that he’d need to be more specific about the type of cheese—one of very few lighter moments to break up the film’s intense seriousness.

After, we see Gore in Miami, where rising sea levels have resulted in an entire street being submerged in ankle deep water. The short-term solutions are expensive; the long-term, non-existent.

While more awareness of the problem is good, one does wonder what the film is hoping to achieve beyond Gore signing up people for his Climate Reality Leader Training – referenced several times in the film.


"While more awareness of the problem is good, one does wonder what the film is hoping to achieve."


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