In 2006, Al Gore brought his climate change slide show to the American public in the Academy Award winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” Back then, Gore warned of an increasing “planetary emergency” if global warming continued unchecked, including rising sea levels, coastal flooding, and nations of climate refugees.
While some of those predictions have, regrettably, come true – such as Hurricane Sandy flooding the World Trade Center site in 2012 – this year’s follow-up to the film offers less doom and gloom, more concrete solutions -- and a glimmer of hope.
“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” documents the former vice president as he continues his tireless fight to spread global awareness of the problem. The film’s directors, Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, went behind the scenes with Gore, adopting a “fly on the wall” approach. They shadowed him from his Nashville home, a working farm, to visits with refugees from the typhoon-devastated island of Tacloban in the Philippines, to the 2015 Paris climate summit.
Gore and the filmmakers joined Greg Dalton and a rapt Climate One audience to discuss the making of the film and the path forward that it offers for the climate movement.
While Gore was heartened by the Paris outcome, he warns that “even if all of its commitments by all 194 nations are kept, is still not enough; we need to do more.”
But the technology is there, he continues, and becoming increasingly more accessible. Costs of renewable energy, electric cars and other sustainable options are coming down “so dramatically that the world has the solutions now.”
Even the Trump administration’s whole-hearted rejection of the Paris accord hasn’t deterred the rest of the world, says Gore.
“I was deeply concerned that other countries might have used it as an excuse to pull out of the Paris agreement themselves,” admits Gore. “But I was immensely gratified when almost immediately afterward the entire rest of the world redoubled their commitment.”
Gore got applause from the audience when he cited California governor Jerry Brown for leading the way. “Quite a number of states are moving in that direction…including a lot of California companies. Apple and Google and others come to mind who are already hundred percent renewable here.”
And, he adds, many Republican lawmakers have come out of the “climate closet” and joined the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.
As with other social movements of the past, Gore notes, the tide of public opinion is turning. He compares the shift in attitude to that which fueled other social changes, such as abolition, women’s’ suffrage and LGBTQ rights. A Tennessee native, Gore saw first-hand the changes brought about by the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
“You want to see ferocious resistance to social and moral change?” asks Gore. “The climate denial is no more ferocious than the resistance to civil rights in the South. “And yet, it gave way.”
With the Paris agreement, advances in technology and increased public pressure on corporations and lawmakers, there are many reasons for hope, says Gore – as long as we remain vigilant.
“This challenge is unprecedented,” Gore tells the audience. “We quadrupled population in the last hundred years…the short-term thinking with which we view the future consequences of present actions really blinds us to the full range of what we’re doing and what it causes.
“So we do have to fall back on what's most important to us and shake off the distraction of modern culture, connect with one another on a human level.”