An Inconvenient Truth was released in 2006. My husband, an environmental scientist, and I took our young children to see the film as soon as it came out. The film was a bit dry relying primarily on charts and slides to demonstrate the dangers we were facing if action was not taken to address the problem of global warming. We are now 11 years later. 2006 was towards the end of the George W. Bush administration. We didn't want to call the lower world wide temperatures “global warming”; let’s call it “climate change,” so it does not sound so bad. Bush did not deny that climate change existed, he just said that we did not know enough. We could not take any action that was going to risk our economy if science did not have an agreed upon understanding of the results of global warming. In An Inconvenient Sequel, Vice President Gore refers to global warming. Global warming exists. It is on the way. It is as scary as a Stephen King novel.
I work in the middle of California’s Central Valley. After four years of drought, mild summers, and dry winters, this summer is setting records for heat. Many days have seen the temperature exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. An Inconvenient Truth relied heavily on charts and statistics to make their point and contained some footage from Hurricane Katrina. The truth was that the impact of global warming was just beginning to be seen dramatically. Those 10 to 11 years that have passed until the release of An Inconvenient Sequel have created two divergent trends. United States industry has decided that science does not matter. They have successfully convinced many of our citizens that science does not matter. The other trend is that global warming has come home to roost dramatically and disturbingly. In fact, the drama of the way in which the effects of global warming have become evident in a way that was so impactful that nearly every nation in the world signed an agreement to do what ever they needed to do to prevent the world from heating up more than two degrees Celsius. With our current levels of heat, we are already experiencing rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and people are losing their homes, not just the house, but the whole island they live on. Many of the world's poor and developing nations have agreed to the Paris Climate Agreement according to Vice President Gore. One nation backed out: us. The one nation that was once the most advanced, developed, and economically strong nations in the world.
I bought our movie tickets in advance. Just my husband and I attended this time because my children are grown and into their own lives now. I could easily have bought tickets at the theater. I am saddened to find that An Inconvenient Sequel only took in $900,000.00 opening weekend. An Inconvenient Truth made $50 million dollars, was awarded an academy award for documentary, and contributed to Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize. An Inconvenient Sequel is a more dramatic and compelling film. Unfortunately, it is about what is happening in the world and real solutions that are ready to apply. An Inconvenient Truth is about what could happen. Alternative energy sources are now cheaper than fossil fuels. Electric cars, solar roofs, and effective batteries are available. We have real solutions. Where is the interest? The fossil fuel industry has done such a great job of convincing people first that global warming is going to cost too much to fix. Then they convinced us that global warming was not global warming; it was climate change. Now, climate change does not exist.
The global warming issue is more difficult to flip and engage our neighbors in because it is not as easy for them to see how the ultra-wealthy can benefit from convincing people it does not exist. The immediate tax reductions are not as easy to see. The reality is that the expectation is that the fossil fuel industry wants to continue to produce energy and fuel our cars long past the day it is even practical for them to do so. Even though big oil interests told us for decades that renewable energy like solar and wind are not practical solutions for the near future, that is no longer true. The technology for generating energy from the wind and solar, as well as the batteries necessary for storing that energy exists. I think where this flip occurs, is if the person we are talking to is convinced that others need to take responsibility for themselves. If the fossil fuel industry, if the car industry, if the energy industry, or any industry for that matter, creates waste as part of the process for whatever they produce, cleaning up the mess is the responsibility of that industry. That responsibility is inconvenient and can be expensive. It can cause problems. If the industry does not take care of it, then the medical expenses, the cost of the disasters, the problems with our way of life are externalizations of those expenses to others. The poor worldwide must absorb the expense of the costs of responsible environmental protection from developed and developing nations.
An Inconvenient Sequel spent time discussing the 2015 Paris meeting on global warming. Of course, Al Gore is the star of the event since it is his movie. What is important about the issue is that business and government worked together to achieve an agreement. I recommend everyone go see this film. I cannot say that it will entertain you, but it will educate you and get you thinking. It will help you to see that we have less time than we think. Many people who do not already think global warming as a problem will see this film. It is more likely that it will provide information and motivation for those of us already in the fight.
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