Al Gore wasn’t the first person to warn us about global warming. But with the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, he became the loudest. And that film — like the Nobel Peace Prize that followed — helped raise awareness and spur action on this gravest threat facing civilization.
A decade later, though, the need to address global warming is only more urgent. Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power follows Gore around the world as he continues pushing humanity to quickly ramp down our greenhouse-gas emissions.
Inconvenient Truth was the former U.S. vice president’s engrossing slideshow primer on global warming. Sequel assumes we know the science, and instead is built around Gore’s talks to trainees in his own Climate Reality Leadership Corps, from Miami to China. One message is that his decade-old warnings — which climate-denialists reflexively called alarmist — were possibly not dire enough, given the increased frequency of heat waves and extreme storms. “Every storm is different now,” he notes. He aptly links Syria’s civil war to the historic drought that preceded it.
The earnest but wry Gore takes side trips to witness the linked phenomena of calamitously melting glaciers in Greenland and high-tide flooding in Miami Beach (which just keeps building its streets higher!). The film addresses well-funded, industry-backed climate-denial campaigns, and includes clips of candidate and President Trump dismissing climate change as a hoax. But Sequel’s centerpiece is the 2016 Paris climate talks, where Gore is portrayed as helping to bring fossil-fuel-fixated India on board by making solar more accessible through credit and technology-sharing.
The film’s take-away is that switching wholesale to renewable energy is both crucial and feasible: Gore indicates that nations from Scotland to Chile have made great advances, and even visits a deep-red Texas town that’s going renewable. He might have offered more specifics: What government policies work best? Are there technical obstacles? But with mainstream media mostly quiet on the climate, and Washington headed backward into denial, we need every voice possible out there. That one is as indefatigable as Gore’s is just a bonus.