Sunday, June 18, 2006

Review: An Inconvenient Truth

As I said I would, I saw An Inconvenient Truth over the weekend. I have to say I'm a little disappointed, but not surprised. Global warming entails many facets and it would be hard to package all of it, its historic contexts, and future possibilities into an hour and half presentation. You get a glimpse of the situation; a sound bite of what's really going on. In that context, the film gets its point across: Raise awareness about the reality of the situation. I was looking for something a little more meaty, but again, not surprised at what was presented. The presentation is aimed at a general audience.

The comparative photographs were excellent. And there were many slick and impressive graphs and animations. Included in Gore's presentation is this clip from Futurama. There were a few times when Gore would throw up a graph, make his point, then quickly flip to the next graph or image. Part of a presentation or film is time constraints, but I would like to have been able to fully absorb the graphs and their information. I will say that there is one graph that Gore uses where data is extrapolated to predict future CO2 concentrations. At the data point, it stated something to the fact of "if no corrective measures are taken". Excellent! So often that important fact is ignored with prediction models.

Related to imagery, there's part of the film where Gore discusses the melting of the Polar caps and how it's destroying Polar Bear habitat. He states how researchers are discovering dead bears where death has been caused by drowning due to bears drifting out to sea and not having enough suitable ice flows to rest/live on. As he is talking about this, a computer generated animation shows a Polar Bear swimming in a vast ocean with a little chunk of ice that breaks to pieces when the bear tries to climb aboard. As the shot pans out, the bear is swimming in a vast sea with no land or ice in sight, leading to the assumption the bear will drown. That whole scenario and imagery didn't sit well with me. No figures or statistics were given on how many bears had died in this manner. Options were not discussed as to other reasons the bears drowned. Age and experience of the bears was taken into account. It's not that this scenario isn't occuring, it's just a very big leap with little explanation.

The film also delves into politics. It's impossible to discuss remedies to global warming without discussing politics. There are times when it feels a bit like bitter grapes with Gore focusing on the Bush administration. I'm sure the guy is bitter and rightfully so, many people are, but being bitter isn't going to solve anything. These parts of the film seemed to be added to the film for dramatic purposes and don't seem to be part of Gore's normal presentation. They should have been left out. America knows the drama of that dichotamy. America doesn't understand global warming.

CO2 is a major contributer to global warming and Gore focuses the movie around CO2 data. There really isn't much attention paid to any other factors. He touches on Ozone issues and how corrective measures have already improved that situtation. It cites (and most importantly in my eyes) the media's role in propagating the "myth," "debate," and "controversy" of global warming instead of treating it as a reality. He never mentions or attempts to dispell the concept of global cooling that was popular in the 80's, rather he cites how the data always pointed to warming trends. I'm almost certain global cooling was media hype as well, but he should have eradicated the concept since so many opponents to global warming continually cite it.

As the credits role, some corrective actions citizens can take are scrolled. The film doesn't really dwell on how we got into the mess or the major causes other than fuel consumption. It targets data to prove global warming is occuring. The movie isn't just about global warming but also Gore's crusade to bring awareness. My conclusion: Wait for the DVD. If you're up on the subject, there really won't be anything new here for you.


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