An Inconvenient Truth

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An Inconvenient Truth
Promotional poster for An Inconvenient Truth
Directed by Davis Guggenheim
Produced by Lawrence Bender
Scott Burns
Laurie David
Starring Al Gore
Music by Michael Brook
Editing by Jay Lash Cassidy
Dan Swietlik
Distributed by Paramount Classics
Release date(s) May 24, 2006
Running time 94 min.
Country USA
Language English
Official website
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile
Image:An Inconvenient Truth.jpg
An Inconvenient Truth book cover

An Inconvenient Truth is a documentary film about climate change, especially global warming, directed by Davis Guggenheim and starring former United States Vice President Al Gore. The documentary is based largely on a multimedia presentation that Gore developed over many years as part of an educational campaign on global warming.

An Inconvenient Truth is also the title of a companion book by Gore, which reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller lists of July 2<ref>New York Times lists book as #1 Paperback Nonfiction, 02-Jul-2006, [1]</ref> and August 13 2006, and again during several months on the list.<ref>New York Times lists book as #1 Paperback Nonfiction, 13-Aug-2006, [2]</ref>

The film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and opened in New York and Los Angeles on May 24 2006 (see 2006 in film). It is the third-highest-grossing documentary in the United States to date.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Both Gore and Paramount Classics, the film's distributor, have pledged proceeds from the film to further educational campaigns about climate change.

The film was released on DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment on November 21 2006, and 50,000 free copies were offered to the National Science Teachers Association, who refused to take them due to fear of "special interests".<ref>Laurie David. "Science a la Joe Camel", The Washington Post, 26 November 2006. Retrieved on 2006-11-26.</ref>


[edit] Overview

While essentially a documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth follows a dramatic plot in the sequence in which facts are revealed and predictions are emphasized, while also interjecting personal events from the life of Al Gore. Rather than simply listing facts in a dry, mechanical manner, the film places its subject in an emotional—and moral—context, with dramatic plot elements.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore comes to grips with his life's purpose after the events of the 2000 Presidential election and rededicates himself to the struggle against global warming. Through a Keynote presentation (dubbed "the slide show") that he has presented worldwide, Gore reviews the scientific evidence for global warming, discusses the politics and economics of global warming, and describes the serious consequences that global climate change will produce if the amount of human-generated greenhouse gases is not significantly reduced in the very near future.

The film includes many segments intended to refute critics who say that global warming is insignificant or unproven. For example, he discusses the risk of the collapse of a major ice sheet in Greenland or Antarctica, either of which could raise global sea levels by approximately 20 feet (6m), flooding coastal areas and producing 100 million refugees. Meltwater from Greenland, because of its lower salinity, could halt the Gulf Stream current and quickly trigger dramatic local cooling in Northern Europe.

In an effort to explain the global warming phenomenon, the film examines annual temperature and CO2 levels for the past 600,000 years in Antarctic ice core samples. An analogy to Hurricane Katrina is used for those familiar with the 30-ft to 45-ft (9 to 14m) waves that destroyed almost a million homes in coastal Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida.

The documentary ends with Gore noting that if appropriate action is taken soon, the effects of global warming can be successfully reversed by releasing less carbon dioxide and growing more plants or trees. Gore calls upon viewers to learn how they can help in this initiative.

Gore's book of the same title was published concurrently with the theatrical release of the documentary. The book contains additional, detailed information, scientific analysis, and Gore's commentary on the issues presented in the documentary.

[edit] Origins

Gore explains the potential impact of Antarctic melting on global sea levels.

Gore first became intrigued by the topic of global warming when he took a course at Harvard University with Professor Roger Revelle, one of the first scientists to measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.<ref>Voynar, Kim. "Sundance: An Inconvenient Truth Q & A - Al Gore on fire! No, really." "Cinematical." January 26, 2006. [3]</ref> Later, when Gore was in Congress, he initiated the first congressional hearing on the subject, brought in climate scientists and began talking to politicians about the issue<ref>Remnick, David. "The Talk of the Town." New Yorker." April 14, 2006.[4]</ref>. He thought that once legislators heard the compelling evidence, they would be driven to action; ultimately, though, the process was a slow one. Gore's 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, dealing with a number of environmental topics, reached the New York Times bestseller list.

As Vice President during the Clinton Administration, Gore pushed for the implementation of a carbon tax to modify incentives to reduce fossil fuel consumption and thereby decrease emission of greenhouse gases; it was partially implemented in 1993. He helped broker the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. However, it was not ratified in the United States due to opposition in the Senate. Gore also supported the funding of a satellite called Triana, to increase awareness of environmental issues and to take the first direct measurements of how much sunlight is reflected from the Earth. During his 2000 Presidential Campaign, Gore ran, in part, on a pledge to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

After his defeat in the 2000 presidential election, Gore returned his focus to the topic. He edited and adapted a slideshow he had compiled years earlier, and began featuring the slideshow in multimedia presentations on global warming across the U.S. and around the world. At the time of the film, Gore estimated he had shown the presentation more than one thousand times.

Producers Laurie David and Lawrence Bender saw Gore's slide show in New York City after the 2004 premiere of The Day After Tomorrow.<ref>Booth, William. "Al Gore, Sundance's Leading Man." "Washington Post." January 26, 2006. [5]</ref> Inspired, they met with director Davis Guggenheim about the possibility of making the slide show into a movie. Guggenheim, who was skeptical at first, later saw the presentation for himself, stating that he was "blown away," and "left after an hour and a half thinking that global warming [was] the most important issue. . . . I had no idea how you’d make a film out of it, but I wanted to try," he said. <ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Scientific basis

The Pale Blue Dot photo, a Voyager 1 photo showing Earth as a dot 4 billion miles away, was featured near the end of An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore

Gore's basic claim—that global warming is real and largely human-caused—is supported by current research.

Gore presents specific data that supports the film's thesis, including:

  • A 2004 survey by Dr. Naomi Oreskes of 928 peer-reviewed scientific articles on global climate change published between 1993 and 2003. The survey, published as an editorial in the journal Science, claimed that every article either supported the human-caused global warming consensus or did not comment on it.[7]

The Associated Press contacted more than 100 top climate researchers and questioned them about the film's veracity. Although at the time before the film's general release, when many of those surveyed had neither seen the movie nor read the book, all 19 climate scientists who had done so said that Gore conveyed the science correctly.<ref>"Scientists OK Gore's Movie for Accuracy", Washington Post, June 27 2006.</ref> The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by Sen. Jim Inhofe, a global warming skeptic who received more than a million dollars from oil and gas companies in 2002,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> issued a press release criticizing this article.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Inhofe's statement that "global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" appears in the film.

RealClimate, a group blog maintained by eleven climate scientists, lauded the film's science as "remarkably up to date, with reference to some of the very latest research.".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Science historian and founder of The Skeptics Society Michael Shermer wrote in Scientific American that An Inconvenient Truth "shocked me out of my doubting stance".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

However, in a June 26 2006 editorial in the Wall Street Journal, climatologist and global warming skeptic Richard Lindzen criticized the movie and questioned its claims.[8] A response to Lindzen's piece disputes the basis for his claims as allegedly not supported by currently available data.[9]

Gore discusses the possibility of a sudden rise in sea level of 20 feet were a major polar ice sheet to collapse. This should not be confused with the more certain, gradual and moderate rise due to non-catastrophic ice melting and the thermal expansion of water. The IPCC's Third Assessment Summary estimates the latter as between 0.1 to 0.85 meters (0.3 to 2.8 feet) by the year 2100, but notes that "this range does not allow for uncertainty relating to ice dynamical changes in the West Antarctic ice sheet."<ref>IPCC's Third Assessment Summary See the chart on page 14 and the accompanying text.</ref> The Antarctic as a whole contains enough ice to raise sea level by an estimated 60 m (200 ft) if it were to melt entirely[10] and the collapse of the grounded interior reservoir of the West Antarctic ice sheet alone would raise sea level by 5-6 m (16-20 ft).[11]

[edit] Promotion

The film, which opened at film festivals, was promoted with taglines such as "A global warning", "We're all on thin ice", "By far the most terrifying film you will ever see", and "The scariest film this summer is one where you are the villain and the hero".

[edit] Performance

[edit] Box office

The film opened in New York City and Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 24 2006. On Memorial Day weekend, it grossed an average of $91,447 per theater, the highest of any movie that weekend and a record for a documentary, though it was only playing on four screens at the time.[12]

At the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, the movie received a three-time standing ovation. It was also screened at the Cannes Film Festival and was the opening night film at the 27th Durban International Film Festival on June 14 2006. An Inconvenient Truth was the most popular Documentary at the 2006 Brisbane International Film Festival.[13]

The film has grossed over $23 million as of September 6 2006, making it the third-highest-grossing documentary in the U.S. to date (after Fahrenheit 9/11 and March of the Penguins). [14]

Al Gore has stated, "Tipper and I are devoting 100 percent of the profits from the book and the movie to a new bipartisan educational campaign to further spread the message about global warming."[15] Paramount Classics is committing 5% of their domestic theatrical gross for the film to a new bipartisan climate action group, Alliance for Climate Protection, dedicated to awareness and grassroots organizing.[16]

[edit] Reviews

Critical reaction to the film has been extremely positive in both left and right media. It has garnered a "certified fresh" 92% rating at Rotten Tomatoes (as of September 2 2006), with a 94% rating from the "Cream of the Crop" reviewers. Film critics Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper gave the film "two thumbs up". Ebert wrote: "In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to."[17]

A few critics were not so impressed. For instance, journalist Ronald Bailey argued in the libertarian magazine Reason that although "Gore gets the science more right than wrong", he "exaggerates the risks."[18]

The film received special recognition from the Humanitas Prize, the first time the organization had handed out a Special Award in over 10 years.

[edit] Political response

  • President Bush, when asked whether he would watch the film, responded: "Doubt it." He later stated that "we need to set aside whether or not greenhouse gases have been caused by mankind or because of natural effects."[19] Gore responded by saying, "The entire global scientific community has a consensus on the question that human beings are responsible for global warming and [Bush] has today again expressed personal doubt that that is true."[20]
  • In September 2006, Gore traveled to Sydney, Australia to promote the film. Australian Prime Minister, John Howard said he would not meet with Gore or agree to Kyoto because of the movie: "I don't take policy advice from films." Opposition Leader Kim Beazley joined Gore for a viewing and other MPs attended a special screening at Parliament House earlier in the week.[23] Australia's federal government currently refuses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

[edit] Influences on popular culture

An Inconvenient Truth is parodied by South Park
  • Prior to being released, the film was parodied in the South Park episode "Manbearpig". Gore laughed off this sensationalized depiction of him, saying "Their comic sensibility is aimed at a different demographic than the one I inhabit, but I still find a lot of what they do hilarious." <ref>"Gore promotes his 'ultimate action movie'", Chicago Sun-Times, May 5 2006.</ref>
  • Stephen Colbert, on The Colbert Report, also parodied An Inconvenient Truth on July 17 2006. Entitled "The Convenientest Truth" , Colbert created his own presentation that argued for the positive effects of global warming, using his signature humor tactics to satirize the conservative response to Gore's presentation.
  • During the movie, Al Gore shows a clip from the Futurama episode "Crimes of the Hot" dealing with global warming; Al Gore was a guest star in that episode, though he was not present in the clip. In addition, Gore stars in a faux trailer made by the Futurama cast and crew titled, "A Terrifying Message from Al Gore".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
  • The Competitive Enterprise Institute ran two television advertisements to "counter global warming alarmism" in apparent reply to An Inconvenient Truth. Both used the tagline "Carbon Dioxide—They call it pollution; We call it life."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
  • Comedian Jon Stewart mocked the Competitive Enterprise Institute and other critics of the movie on The Daily Show:<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
Gore and a fringe group of radical liberals known as "scientists" believe that the earth is being damaged by man-made carbon dioxide. Well, bad mouth humanity all you want, but diss carbon dioxide and the Competitive Enterprise Institute is likely to open up a can of public service advertising on your ass [Institute's ads are shown onscreen]. I know what you're driving at, but I really don't think science and liberals are going to outlaw breathing.

[edit] See also

[edit] References


[edit] External links

This audio file was created from an article revision dated 2006-11-18, and may not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (Audio help)


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[edit] Miscellaneous

Global Warming
Scientific opinion | Attribution of causes | Effects | Mitigation | Adaptation | Controversy | Politics | Economics
Related topics
Greenhouse effect | Greenhouse gases | Temperature data | Kyoto Protocol | Long-term climate change |
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
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