An Inconvenient Film

Coastal Carolina had a screening of An Inconvenient Truth tonight and we went to it. I’ve heard lots of people wax rhapsodic about it, so I had expectations set at a certain level. Frankly, unlike most people on my side of the political fence I just plain did not think much of the film. There were maybe 20 – 30 minutes of absolutely killer material, a fair amount of specious reasoning, and waaaaaaaay too much schmaltzy bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely zero doubts that global warming is real, anthropogenically caused, and that we are on the slippery slope to correct our ways before we cause irreversible harm. I want to be carbon neutral from a personal standpoint and am moving forward on that. I felt that this movie was a clumsy attempt to sell me something I’d already bought.

What did I think was the killer material? The factual parts. I liked the data from the core samples, the photos of glacial areas over time, the CO2 measurements. The parts I hated? Shots of Al Gore. Al looking at computers, Al backstage about to go on stage, Al looking out windows very concerned. Weepy personal stories. Trying to connect things that really aren’t cogent to the argument, like that tobacco companies and oil companies both spread FUD.

There were also giant missing swaths from the film. There were moments such as when Gore showed all the places on the globe that he had given that speech. So, here’s a question – what was the carbon footprint of all that travel around the word to give people speeches about how our lifestyle is contributing to global warming? I’m guessing quite high. Also, why did he hammer on the various technological and mechanical causes, but didn’t even really mention that the effect of the livestock industry equals or exceeds that of industry plus automobiles?

I have to say that I found the entirety of the film less motivational than Will Shetterly’s recent posts on the subject. In particular, the recent one about why he went vegan and is no longer flying when avoidable went a long way towards convincing me. When you have a topic as important as this, loading up your argument with manipulative tactics just weakens the whole thing. If the facts are on your side, present them as coherently and simply as possible then let it ride. Doing anything else makes it seem like you are trying to pave over weaknesses on your part.

So, my final analysis is that the film says the wrong things for the right reasons and should have been much better if they want to convince people of things that require action.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.