Al Gore’s latest scare film: A whole lotta nothing

By Ted Baehr

Note: Dr. Tom Snyder, editor of Movieguide®, contributed to this column.

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” is Vice President Al Gore’s follow-up to his tendentious Oscar-winning documentary warning people about the alleged global dangers of global warming and worldwide climate change.

The movie begins with a series of quotes from skeptical media pundits, including John Stossel and Sean Hannity of the Fox Business Channel and the Fox News Channel, mocking Gore’s first movie. The biggest complaint seems to be that the first movie’s claims of an urgent global warming crisis have proven not to be true, or at least exaggerated. The movie then proceeds to show that these pundits were the ones who were wrong.

To prove that point, Gore visits melting ice glaciers in Greenland. He also visits Miami Beach, where some high tides have recently resulted in some streets being inundated by sea water. He also mentions recent extraordinary flooding in different parts of the world, including Louisiana, the Philippines and India. In fact, he personally visits a town in the Philippines, where the mayor and a couple other people tell sad, scary stories about the powerful, uncommon typhoon that struck the town. Gore also visits Beijing, China, to point out all the particulate pollution in that city because of the use of “dirty coal.” Finally, he mentions recent wildfires.

While teaching sessions and rallies with hundreds of young people Gore is training to be climate change “warriors,” the movie’s second half focuses on the December 2015 climate change conference in Paris. There, more than 190 nations agreed to make changes in their energy and environmental policies to limit “greenhouse gas” emissions allegedly causing too much global warming.

Much of that section involves Gore trying to help India get some loans for development of its solar industry so that the country’s leaders will support the final agreement. The documentary shows the former vice president lobbying a solar company called SolarCity, founded by two cousins of Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla (which makes electric cars), to help out India so that it will develop fewer plants using “dirty coal” and more solar-panel facilities. In the end, the World Bank agrees to come up with cheaper loans for India to do this. The movie implicitly seems to give Gore the credit for this outcome, though neither the filmmakers nor Gore provides any evidence to support this possibility.

The movie’s ending notes that President Trump recently decided to back out of the Paris climate change agreement. However, Gore sees Trump’s decision as just another temporary setback the climate-change movement will eventually overcome. He compares the decision to all the obstacles faced by the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s and the “gay rights” movement in the 1980s and 1990s. (Gore mentions his politician father in the movie, but neglects to mention that his father was a member of the KKK and voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a U.S. senator.) The movie finally launches into a series of title cards urging viewers to join Gore’s campaign to spread the word about climate change and “speak truth to power.”

“An Inconvenient Sequel” isn’t boring. That’s a big achievement for any documentary that doesn’t rely on cute little animals or big scary predators roaming the wilderness. In fact, amidst all the outrage and alarm that Al Gore projects regarding what he calls the climate change “crisis,” he sometimes injects a little humor into his passion.

However, the documentary might be more convincing if Gore would tone down some of the rhetoric. For instance, although evidence shows that there has been a rise in sea levels in the last few decades, scientists disagree about how much. In fact, the alleged rise was even adjusted downward just this past summer. Also, although, at the low end, some scientists project the sea level will rise another eight inches by 2100, that is just a prediction that may not turn out to occur. Of course, Al Gore teaches that the sea level will rise by several feet – not just eight inches – a prediction that’s on the higher end of the scale of “scientific” projections.

Be that as it may, despite Gore’s visit to Miami, Florida, where he shows that, in the last decade or so, high tides have been inundating some of the city’s streets near the ocean, what he doesn’t tell viewers is that this area of Florida has always been known for its flooding during high tides and especially during hurricanes and other serious storms. In fact, parts of Miami, including the area known as Miami Beach, are built on porous limestone near the ocean, and parts of it (on the bay side particularly) are built on swampland. Moreover, the modern city’s construction of sewers has served as an actual conduit for seawater during high tides and during rainstorms! This suggests that any rise in sea level, no matter how small, is a disaster for the citizens of Miami Beach, who are victims of very poor city planning, not “global warming.”

Like his previous movie, Gore claims that global temperatures are rising too quickly, causing not only catastrophic flooding, droughts and wildfires, but also bigger storms. These last two claims have been disputed by several skeptical scientists. For instance, Gore’s claim that global temperatures are continuing to rise are based on estimates that round the temperature numbers upward. Thus, other estimates claim that global temperatures have actually stabilized or decreased in the last 10 to 15 years.

What about the pollution caused by using “dirty coal”? Well, that pollution is called particulate pollution (including sulfur dioxide), which is completely separate from the increase in CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions that allegedly lead to what’s called the global warming “crisis.” Of course, carbon dioxide is essential to plant life, so an increase in CO2 emissions may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to the agricultural production needed to feed the increasing number of people living on Planet Earth.

Ultimately, therefore, although there may be cause for concern about future possible increases in sea level, “An Inconvenient Sequel” and Al Gore haven’t proven their case for a climate change “crisis.” Instead, they try to blind viewers with unproven, if not outrageous and disproven, scientific claims, emotional arguments and startling but ultimately vacuous visual images.

Apparently, Al Gore refuses to publicly debate any skeptical scientists regarding his claims about a climate change “crisis.” Also, although Gore’s original mentor at Harvard regarding global warming, the late Roger Revelle, recanted his theories about a global warming “crisis” regarding CO2 emissions (see this 1984 interview with him), Gore said the man had become “senile.” Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Gore is projecting his own state of mind.

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