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09/04/2009

A Look Back at An Inconvenient Truth

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By Sara Hoffman

Inco Looking back at
An Inconvenient Truth, the environmental movie so well-known it's been mocked for its effect on people, I was awestruck by how much more it still resonates than other environmental films that have recently come out. Why does it? 

In the first scene, narrator Al Gore explains that soon after the first picture of the Earth from space was shown to the public, the modern environmental movement began. This movement has so many components (green business, education, activism, etc.), and Gore happens to be a messenger. Whether his involvement with politics helped or hurt his credibility is a tough call, but either way it gave him tons publicity for the issue. Some messengers send a message by not making an impact at all; some do it by travelling the world giving lectures. Al Gore happens to be a messenger and a perpetrator, who's been informing people about global warming and advocating change for twenty-plus years.

It goes without saying that the movie is factually convincing, but just because we are convinced we don't always take action, as Gore brilliantly mentioned. The message was presented as a moral issue we need to fix. Toward the end viewers are inspired to make a moral decision, just as Americans have conquered so many moral dilemmas in the past. If we all get the message and work together, the American automakers can catch up to foreign automakers' efficiency, we can ratify Kyoto, and we can get our CO2 emissions level back to where it was in the 70's. How's that coming?

Some say global warming is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated upon the American people. But it's not something perpetrated upon Americans. It's something acknowledged by most other developed countries. Sure, we all want to believe it's a hoax - wait, or do we? What if we found out tomorrow that global warming is a lie, and there's no reason to reduce our consumption of fuel, energy, resources, or items that use those resources? I think part of the reason we believe it is because we know we need to reduce our consumption, because we have morals, which is why Gore's moral argument for change was so strong.

And even if it weren't for global warming, there are still tons of environmental problems that would need solutions, and some would need explaining. Bleaching of coral reefs, running out of clean water, landfills and oceans filling with plastic waste? I kind of want to see glaciers melting to believe it, but in the way I'd want to visit a Halocaust museum - it'd be a dreadfully truth-telling experience. Can you imagine an expanse of water as the North Pole?

For more environmental film reviews, visit RTM's Earth Tones section.

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