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An Inconvenient Truth

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Finally got around to watching this Oscar-winning documentary, which essentially features former US Vice-President Al Gore presenting a powerpoint on Global Warming – its causes, effects and possible cures. However, it is not just a dour lecture – interspersed within the data presentation are moments of droll humor and short segues into the personal life of Gore.

Given the current climate over global warming, it is difficult to view and comment on a documentary like this without a disclosure on personal political beliefs. So in that vein, let me say that I used to be a global warming skeptic – but not any more from the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of climate changes. But I do differ from most so-called environmentalist in what to do, and more importantly, how to go about tackling the issue. I believe in pragmatic approaches, rather than a preaching, and linking economic well-being to the solutions.

So coming from a slightly skeptical viewpoint, I thought An Inconvenient Truth does an exemplary job of explaining the challenge facing humankind. Gore does not revel in painting a doomsday scenario as a result of warming. Arguably he presents the information in a non-alarmist manner, even while underscoring the importance of acting quickly. He offers concrete steps to overcome the problem and even panders to my own politics towards global warming – convince people that working towards addressing climate change can have economic side benefits.

Unfortunately, while Gore appears to be genuinely passionate about this issue – his mere involvement (as a former Vice-president, presidential candidate, and prominent Democrat) might actually be undermining the issue by making it an overtly political one, rather than a scientific-economic debate. How else, would you explain the otherwise erudite Russell Roberts of Cafe Hayek, asking an inane, obfuscating question such as this one.

Suppose we discovered that the earth was cooling rather than warming due to a natural cycle. Would you encourage people to drive more and use more carbon-based energy as a way of warming the earth? (link)

That is not to say that there are no political elements in the documentary itself – Gore makes his entrance on the note and on a few occasion mentions the failed 2000 bid. And he does not shy away from taking jabs (well-deserved though) at the current administration.

Overall, no matter which side of the fence you are on – this is a documentary well worth pursuing.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

April 10, 2007 at 11:55 am

Posted in Reviews

9 Responses

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  1. I liked the documentary for the same reasons that you state. Al Gore is actually likeable! He passionately states his case and gives viable alternatives. To me anything that enriches this Earth should be something we ought to try. So I don’t understand why most people are reluctant to make even small changes in their lifestyle.

    On a completely irrelevant note, will do your most watched movie meme πŸ™‚
    And please do post the best comedy films post πŸ™‚


    April 10, 2007 at 12:06 pm

  2. Heh.. you posted “an inconvenient truth” around the same time I posted “I am The Truth” πŸ™‚

    Lets turn this into a truth meme!

    Vivek Kumar

    April 10, 2007 at 3:24 pm

  3. @Sakshi: The psychology of human behavior is quite baffling – I am no tree hugger – but I I dont think trees should be cut down indiscriminately in the name of human progress and therefore try to save as much on printing as possible and recycling. But there is this dude I knew in graduate school who intentionally printed more and stated that he cuts down a tree every Earth Day just for spite !

    Will work on the Hindi comedies …..seems like just the thing I need to divert my mind.

    @Vivek: Truth or truthiness ?

    But remember I took the all uppercase bold with the-in-italics truth (evil laughter)!!


    April 10, 2007 at 4:03 pm

  4. his mere involvement (as a former Vice-president, presidential candidate, and prominent Democrat) might actually be undermining the issue by making it an overtly political one

    True but note that the political tone was imposed by his opponents some of whom oppose global warming just because they had disagreed with his politics. At the same time, the current environment movement may not have got the filip if it wasn’t for Gore. After all, who wants to listen to astute scientists spew their knowledge from their ivory towers, right? Also, not all scientists may be savvy enough to present such dense material in layman’s terms.


    April 11, 2007 at 1:13 am

  5. @Vivek: This dude forgot to use the bold and the italics πŸ˜‰

    @Pat: Agree that Gore has done much to highlight the situation and it is not his fault that people are picking on him for politics. I just find it quite sad that people (and not just the common man on the street, but erudite, supposedly knowledgeable people – example above) are busy politicking and making this a free-market vs state or a right vs left issue rather than focusing on the important tasks at hand.


    April 11, 2007 at 8:04 am

  6. BongoP’o’ndit: This dude didn’t forget. HE did not think it necessary to embellish THE TRUTH (divine chuckle).

    Just Mohit

    April 11, 2007 at 9:15 am

  7. @BongoP’o’ndit: I recall having watched another documentary which proclaimed the other message – that global warming is not man-made and is not something that we can do something about. Unfortunately, I lost the link. Any pointers.. just in case you also came across it?

    Vivek Kumar

    April 11, 2007 at 10:16 am

  8. P’o’nditji,

    I’m glad to get your opinion on this matter. When I posted on the implications of climate change on foreign policy, the discussion took off on an it’s real/it’s a false alarm track. Questions arose on whether the IPCC’s report is hype etc. The Economist appears to agree that it’s backed by rock solid scientific evidence.

    So I agree with you about the politicisation though. I think we’ve reached a stage where people support/oppose any issue wearing partisan blinkers.


    April 13, 2007 at 4:32 am

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