Photo: Al Gore giving his updated presentation in Houston, TXin An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power from Paramount Pictures and Participant Media.Photo Credit: Jensen Walker©2017 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
“Every night, the TV news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation,” Al Gore wryly observes in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, the new film from Paramount Pictures that hits theaters nationwide on Friday, August 4.
These words were spoken before a Delaware-sized iceberg broke off the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica in July—a reminder of the speed in which climate change is taking place, making it virtually impossible for us to fathom the radical and potentially irreversible environmental transformation now taking place. The outlook is grim, in light of just how much worse things have gotten since Gore released An Inconvenient Truth in 2006.
In the original film, Gore was widely chastised for predicting that Manhattan would be flooded by a catastrophic storm. Then Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, and Gore was proven correct. But An Inconvenient Sequel is no “I told you so.” It is the work of a true believer who remains optimistic and faithful.
Despite the dramatic and devastating evidence Gore presents throughout the film, which is profoundly traumatic and deeply unnerving, he is a true believer in the power of human potential to right the wrongs of the past and reverse the slippery slope to annihilation.
The film, which is accompanied by a book of the same name just released from Rodale, offers not only an unvarnished look at the problem that lays before us but offers reasonable solutions that can be implemented by countries all around the world. Renewable energy, most notably solar power, can create alter the path we are on.
An Inconvenient Sequel is not for the faint of heart but rather for those who are committed to truth, to recognizing that the fate of the planet rests in the hands of those alive today. We are tasked not only with the existing problem of the environment, but of government officials and corporate executives actively working to deny the science.
In 2006, we had the luxury of ignorance to raise our eyebrows in doubt. Today, such extravagance no longer exists, as Rex Tillerson, former Exxon Mobil CEO, is the U.S. Secretary of State, making it clear just where the government interest lies in the fate of the earth.
Sixteen of the seventeen hottest years ever measured, dating back to 1880, have occurred since 1998. 2016 was the hottest year on record, 2015 was the second hottest, when the film was made—but it’s since been supplanted by 2017. The writing is on the wall. What will it take to make the change?
Human nature, being what it is, tends to wait for crisis to occur before taking action, despite the fact that “too little, too late,” is often the result of an inability to face reality. Many people may walk out of An Inconvenient Truth shell-shocked, but one thing they will not be is daunted by a lack of hope.
Gore makes a point of showing a number of solutions currently in place. One of the most telling conversations takes place with Dale Ross, conservative Republican mayor of Georgetown, Texas, who is in the process of fully switching his city’s energy supply to renewable sources. The man who brags about being the leader of the reddest city in the reddest county of oil-producing Texas makes the point that it’s not only a fiscally smarter decision, it’s just plain common sense: “The less stuff you put in the air, the better it is.”
And in that moment, it is clear that environmentalism spans the chasm that exists between the people of this nation who are deeply divided by virtually every form of ideology.
While the film will hit you viscerally time and again, it’s the book, which will prepare you for the challenges we face. Without the benefit of video, the horrors of climate change are somewhat neutralized and you are able to wade through the information without the raw, emotional impact of the information. More importantly, the action points make up about half the book, providing a blueprint for people to get involved and, in the words of Rumi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
The reality is that we cannot rely upon messianic leaders to fix this mess; they are ones that created the situation that now exists. Instead, what is required is a paradigm shift, wherein individuals work as a collective within their own spheres of influence. Never let it be said that we do not have the power to change the world. True, one person is a drop in the bucket, but 8 billion drops can start a tidal wave.
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.