It’s an odd, plodding film, unadorned with quick cutting and dazzling special effects. But it seldom drifts from its stated purpose, and I think its pace is best suited to Al Gore, its narrator. With the exception of a couple of personal asides that require some mental gymnastics to reconnect to global warming, the evidence in support of the fact of accelerating climate change, and the need for action, accretes inexorably throughout the film.
For me, the film fails in one glaring respect: he mentions population as a problem growth in only one short segment, and, when he’s suggesting specific actions at the end of the film, doesn’t include anything about family planning. People are always going to burn shit, and, the more people you have, the more shit they’re going to burn. You can Kyoto until you’re blue (or red) in the face, but until you take on the ultimate political discomfort, jawboning against religious and cultural biases toward reproductive profligacy, there is no resolution to this issue.
In many ways, it’s also a showcase for Gore’s doggedness, intelligence and sincerity. It’s amusingly ironic that these are the very qualities that probably lost him the 2000 election. Unlike others on the left, I’d rather not see Gore embark on another presidential quest. For one thing, I like him too well, and there are others I’d rather see punished by the campaign process. For another, I don’t think this issue is a winner either by itself or as a cornerstone for a campaign, even if people begin choking and expiring in the streets. One day, of course, we won’t be able to ignore it, and if Gore has advanced that day with his efforts so far, I think I’d like to see him keep doing it.
Which brings us to perhaps another inconvenient truth - the untimely announcement yesterday by the Tennessee Electric Swift Boat Committee that Gore, in his Tennessee residence, may be a profligate user of both electricity and gas. Why did this have to come out on the very day I finally hie my ass off to see the film? If true, it’s disappointing, because it dilutes Gore’s effectiveness as a messenger, and gives license to those who prefer to ignore the message. And I can’t really give him a “pass” just because he may have purchased some ameliorative green energy on a website somewhere, and still maintain a position against industry being allowed to create a faux currency in “pollution credits”.
Who knows, he may be using his basement to charge up a fleet of electric vehicles for the disadvantaged in his community. Or, since the family eschewed growing tobacco, perhaps they’ve had to make up the income with an indoor pot farm. Besides that, he should be president right now; if he were, he’d be living in the White House (I’d like to see those energy consumption figures) and flying on Air Farce One instead of trudging through security scanners as he was in the film.
I’m willing to wait for Gore to respond personally, even if it’s a Powerpoint with a flashback to his days as the president of his high school audio-visual club.