Gore film

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(HOST)There’s more than one film about global warming out this year, and commentator Jay Craven has just seen one of them.

(CRAVEN) When the new Al Gore movie, “An Inconvenient Truth” opened across Vermont recently, it surprised many by making it into the list of the top ten grossing films for the week.

The film’s extraordinary success may be due to the fact that, for the first time, “An Inconvenient Truth” gathers a vast, accessible, and compelling body of information about climate change into one arena.

David Denby at the New Yorker writes, “If even half of what Gore says is true, this may be the most galvanizing documentary you will see in your lifetime.”

I suspect that much more than half is true, given the painstaking scientific research that’s on display. I’m also impressed by the stunning visual evidence gathered over thirty years spent traveling to the far reaches of the earth to see first-hand what global warming is doing to ice caps, glaciers, coral reefs, deserts, endangered animals, and the ravaged coastline of the Gulf of Mexico.

The movie’s not perfect. There may be too much personal backstory about the rough patches in Gore’s own life that motivated him to focus on these threats. Some of it plays
like the campaign biographies we’ve come to regard with
healthy skepticism.

But the flaws are insignificant compared with the picture’s penetrating strengths. And Gore’s tone in the film is generous,
not preachy or condescending.

To its credit, “An Inconvenient Truth” avoids the corrosive partisanship that is all too common and would prevent the consensus needed to address this urgent common concern. Indeed, the picture plays like a rare and refreshing departure from the political world. It feels like a gift of valuable knowledge and new understanding that we can use productively to advance ourselves and our collective potential.

I look at the film’s startling images of the vanishing snows of Kilimanjaro and I think of the disappearing snows on Vermont mountains that I’ve seen first-hand over the past thirty years.

I look at the film’s list of new threats from insects and illness and I think of how Lyme disease has moved north to Vermont, facilitated by warmer temperatures.

I see the images of lost pine forests in the Pacific Northwest and I think of how Vermont’s maple trees face extinction over the next century unless we can reverse global warming.

But the movie concludes that we can still change course if we can summon a unified effort like the one that reversed depletion of the ozone layer. And if that happens, this effort can create new jobs and a thriving economy. Compare the struggling sales figures at Ford and GM to the success of more fuel-efficient cars at Honda and Toyota.

Indeed, An Inconvenient Truth makes the case that a nation with fast modern trains, more efficient cars, clean renewable energy, reduced air and water pollution, and sustainable agriculture and forestry will provide an enormous boost not only to our economies but to our sense of spirit, unity, and hope for a prosperous future.

Filmmaker Jay Craven teaches at Marlboro College and directs Kingdom County Productions.

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