AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
Something to Question and Consider
Release Date: May 24, 2006
Starring: Al Gore (participant)
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 94 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Classics
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Executive Producer: None
Producer: Lawrence Bender, Scott Burns,
and Laurie David
Address Comments To:David Dinerstein and Ruth Vitale
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The picture begins with Gore musing, "I've been trying to tell this story for a long time, but I fear I failed to get the message across." Having first became aware of global warming theory in the 1970s while still in college, Gore has devoted his time since leaving public office advocating changes in laws and lifestyles related to what many believe to be an impending crisis. Many scientists contend that increases in population, coupled with the emergence of industrialism, has caused temperatures to rise steadily during the last several decades, although there are some who hold to the contrary view. One of the major causes of this global warming comes from greenhouse gasses resulting from the burning of fossil fuels. Gore's presentation links the problems caused by these carbon emissions to a number of major social concerns, including public health problems, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and deadly heat waves. Most notably, he suggests that Hurricane Katrina was directly related to results of global warming. The human activity that has allegedly caused the quandary, Gore points out, can be reversed, which makes it not only a political issue, but a moral issue.
Because practically any controversy is a money maker for the news media, especially in the U.S., alarmist claims often fail to raise too many eyebrows. The widespread circulation of yellow journalism made prevalent through technology is unfortunately employed by both sides of the culture war, and environmentalists are among those notorious for shouting exaggerations in order to gain awareness and support for their pet causes. Steven Schneider, a leading proponent of global warming theory, once candidly admitted, "To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest."
The embellishment of many environmentalist claims was brought to the forefront in 2001, when Danish political scientist Bjørn Lomborg used painstaking statistical analysis to rebuff a number of issues (including global warming) in his unusually controversial book THE SKEPTICAL ENVIRONMENTALIST: MEASURING THE REAL STATE OF THE WORLD. While enthusiastically praised by a number of major sources, including THE ECONOMIST, THE WASHINGTON POST, and THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, much space was subsequently offered by public policy and scientific journals to scholars refuting Lomborg's book. Perhaps predictably, critics charged that his claims were a sweeping misrepresentation of statistical data.
The same criticisms will likely be made about AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, albeit from those on the other side of the debate. Whether or not Gore's interpretation of global warming theory is accurate remains to be seen, but his quick dismissal of alternative theories certainly taints his presentation's credibility. He comes across as another culture warrior prophesying doom and gloom, while recklessly swatting aside reasonable questions about how strict environmental laws may impact the world economy.
Still, if taken (at least initially) with a grain of salt, this documentary can serve as a good starting point for discussion for those outside the stuffy confines of academic walls. Gore's argument is certainly interesting, and, if even partially correct, the ramifications for Christians are colossal.
Francis Schaeffer is primarily remembered for his influential writings in presuppositional apologetics, but he was also outspoken on environmental responsibility. In his book POLLUTION AND THE DEATH OF MAN, Schaeffer demonstrates that non-Christian worldviews are insufficient in offering an intellectual base for protecting the environment, and that a comprehensive Christian worldview demands for believers to exercise wise environmental stewardship and a basic awareness of our lifestyle's ecological consequences. This documentary is thought provoking enough to encourage Christians to explore how our habits may affect not only our planet, but our fellow man.
On the other hand, unintended consequences of global warming-oriented legislation are also something that deserves sober consideration. Respected Catholic intellectual Richard John Neuhaus suggests that religious leaders preaching from the global warming bandwagon are well-intentioned but often misguided. It may be relatively easy for an American to find a more efficient car, he writes, but it's a very big sacrifice for a Nigerian to give up hope for a square meal. "It is not bold and prophetic to call for sacrifices," Neuhaus writes, "whether here or in the global South, that no political leader could possibly embrace. It is moralistic self-indulgence."
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH contains minor foul language and some disturbing images that may be inappropriate for young children, though it should be suitable for older children and teenagers with proper adult guidance. MOVIEGUIDE(r) advises caution.
Environmentalists are among those notorious for shouting exaggerations in order to gain support for their pet causes. This documentary appears to fall into such a category. Gore preaches doom and gloom, while ignoring reasonable questions asked by skeptics of the theory. Still, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH can serve as a good starting point for education, discussion and exploration for Christians, including older children and teenagers under proper guidance. The picture contains minor foul language and some disturbing images that may be inappropriate for young children, as well as a strong environmentalist worldview and some anti-capitalist elements. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE(r) advises caution.