Al Gore’s first “Inconvenient” movie, the Oscar-winning “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006), alerted the public to the climate crisis. He took an issue that was on the periphery of people’s attention and brought it center stage, and it has remained a significant concern ever since, both here and throughout the world.
Now, 11 years later, there’s “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” in which Gore answers all the questions you might have been wondering about since the last installment: How bad is it now? Can this be reversed? What can be done to counter the big money behind the climate-denying industry? And should we all just throw up our hands and wait for some dreaded third part in the trilogy, perhaps “An Inconvenient Apocalypse”?
The answers here are a mix of good news and bad news. The good news is that leaders around the world seem to be getting serious about the climate crisis. Another strong bit of good news is that wind and solar energy are becoming less expensive than fossil fuels in many parts of the country, and those prices are continuing to drop. Altruism may be a strong motive in society, but it’s got nothing on greed. When it becomes cheaper to save the world than wreck it, instances of selfless idealism will increase exponentially.
As for the bad news … well, it’s not exactly like we have all the time in the world to do something — or a government in Washington that’s committed to the cause. There may someday be a tipping point in public opinion, but nothing is tipping yet.
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The new film shows the former vice president doing his slide show throughout the world, and Gore’s presentation has lost none of its freshness and fascination. Just as raw information, this is interesting stuff, and it’s amplified by Gore’s delivery, a unique mix of self-deprecating folksiness, geekiness and evangelical zeal. This is a man who might have been president — in the opinion of many, he was the true winner of the 2000 election — and yet he is willing to talk to a room full of only 50 people as though the future of the world depended on it.
That’s the other thing that makes “An Inconvenient Sequel” compelling: Gore himself. He is a man on a crusade, and since most of us have never been on one of those, it’s quite something to witness it from the inside, particularly one waged at the highest levels of influence. Gore knows everybody. He travels regularly, appears on television, meets with journalists and activists and speaks at conferences. It’s a lot of work, but it looks like a bracing way to spend one’s time, and, though the issues are serious, it has become a fun thing to tag along with him, albeit in a virtual way.
The scenes of Gore in Paris, as the Paris Agreement on global warming is being crafted, amount to a chance for audiences to have a brief seat at the grown-ups’ table. At one point, Gore wants India to sign on to the agreement, but its government is reluctant. So he starts calling banks and various businesses to put together a set of conditions so favorable that the Indians have to say yes. On a human level, it’s sort of like being in high school and trying to fix up your friend with a friend of a friend — it takes lot of phone calls, and reassurance, and ego soothing. The only difference is that here the upshot of these personal interactions will impact the fate of millions.
Still, hanging over everything in “An Inconvenient Sequel” is the thing that we know and that Gore does not, and that’s the result of the 2016 presidential election. In the immediate aftermath, Gore looks like he’s suddenly in a movie he never wanted to be in, but he recovers, and he and the film find their way to an optimism that doesn’t feel forced, that feels like there actually might be hope.
‘An Inconvenient Sequel’
Rated PG for thematic elements and some troubling images.