In 'An Inconvenient Truth', directed by Davis Guggenheim, former US vice-president Al Gore makes a timely and convincing argument for the threat of climate change caused by global warming. The film is based largely on a slide show presentation on global warming that Gore has been giving for a number of years. Mixed in are some anecdotes from Gore's personal life, which - though arguably superfluous - help explain his drive in educating the public on the issue.
The public Gore seeks to convince is mainly the American public, and they need some heavy-handed arguments (just look at how the poster links pollution to tornadoes, i.e. Katrina). The United States being by far the largest polluter, with the least political will to do anything about it, Gore hopes his film and the companion book will ultimately bring about a US policy change, starting at a grassroots level. So far, both the film and book have been very successful in the United States, the film becoming the third highest grossing documentary ever and the book topping bestseller lists for months.
For a European audience the basic principle of global warming may be well-known by now, but the film is powerful nonetheless in its lucid presentation of scientific facts and the urgency of its warning message. The Kyoto Protocol, which Gore helped engineer as vice-president, is a good start, but it's not nearly enough. The film quotes Winston Churchill, who wrote in the 1930s:
The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences.
But Gore does not present an outright doomsday scenario. He remains firmly convinced that major catastrophe can be avoided if we act now, and he emphasizes that the issue is not so much a political as a moral one, calling it "deeply unethical" to ignore the global climate crisis. At the same time, Gore reminds how the Chinese character for 'crisis' is composed of two symbols back to back: disaster and opportunity.
A longer version of this review can be found at the New Values Community.