10 years after he brought the topic of climate change into mainstream consciousness, former United States Vice-President Al Gore is back again.
In the sequel to his groundbreaking An Inconvenient Truth – an award-winning documentary about climate change in 2007 – Gore is once again the passionate evangelist. Only this time, he is angrier because the task at hand is more urgent as the realities of changes in the environment become clearer.
“An Inconvenient Sequel – Truth to Power”, the follow-up to the first documentary, was shown at the Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday, and drew rave reviews.
Its message is: if you thought things were bad back in 2007, they are much worse now. At the same time, however, there is hope.
The hard-hitting sequel looks back on some of the predictions scientists made in 2007, and investigates if they have come to fruition.
“The most-criticised scene in An Inconvenient Truth was showing that the combination of sea-level rises and storm surge would flood the 9-11 memorial site, and people said, ‘What a terrible exaggeration’,” Gore said in the film.
But that prediction came through in 2012 as Hurricane Sandy flooded the site, causing “extensive damage”, with waters as high as 7 feet inundating the then unfinished site.
“Reminiscent of the original, ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ depicted the dire consequences of a warming earth — from flooding in Miami and the Philippines, to the worst drought on record in Syria — bringing human suffering there that predated the ongoing civil war — to air pollution so bad in some parts of China that life expectancy has declined by six years,” Variety said in a review of the film.
The trailer, which you can view below, begins with a black screen, as the voice of then presidential candidate Donald Trump fades in, mocking what most scientists have warned – that the earth is facing a serious global warming situation.
“It’s supposed to be 70 degrees in here,” Trump told a rally during the US presidential election campaign last year. “It’s freezing in here! Speaking of global warming, where is… we need some global warming! It’s freezing!”
Trump is now the US president, and even as the film was shown at the film festival, Trump was signing a sweeping executive order to rescind many of the climate change policies introduced by his predecessor, President Barack Obama, including reducing carbon emissions, lifting the ban of mining coal on federal lands, and defunding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The move “effectively [cedes] American leadership in the international campaign to curb the dangerous heating of the planet,” The New York Times said.
“Mr. Trump made clear that the United States had no intention of meeting the commitments that his predecessor had made to curb planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution, turning denials of climate change into national policy.”
Trump’s position is the complete opposite of Obama, who made climate change one of his top priorities during his 8-year presidency.
“What we know is that if the current projections, the current trendlines on a warming planet continue, it is certainly going to be enormously disruptive worldwide,” Obama said last November. “Just imagine, for example, monsoon patterns shifting in South-asia where you got over a billion people. If you have even a portion of those billion people displaced, you now have the sort of refugee crises and potential conflicts that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. Then you are looking at a much more dangerous world and severe strains on nation-states, on communities, on economies.”
“Despair can be paralysing,” Gore says, but he adds that there is in fact “a tremendous amount of positive changes” since 2007, such as new technology and green energy being adopted by more countries. The 2015 Paris Accord on climate change is another, where for the first time all major countries signed up to the pledge to reduce carbon emissions, although Trump’s denial of global warming and its effects has raised concerns about the US’ commitments to the Paris Agreement.
“The next generation would be justified in looking back at us and asking, what were you thinking?” Gore says in the film. “Couldn’t you hear what the scientists were saying? Couldn’t you hear what Mother Nature was screaming at you?”
“An Inconvenient Sequel – Truth to Power” is a timely and urgent film, just as the first documentary was.
Only this time, the message has taken on a more pressing tone as the reality of environmental changes hits home in countries around the world.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that we’re going to get on a rocket ship and live on Mars,” Gore says. “This is our home.”
An Inconvenient Sequel – Truth to Power will be released on 28 July in the States.