An Inconvenient Truth
(Davis Guggenheim 2006; 95 min.)
see trailer at Top Documentary Films
Things to Look For:
· Connection to The 11th Hour and Timothy Bennett’s What a Way to Go
· See wiki entry on Al Gore
· See discussion of Scientific Basis of film’s argument
1. Al Gore contends that the truth about global climate change is “inconvenient,” meaning that it is a truth we are unwilling to accept, because this would have implications we are unwilling to confront. Explain the source of this reluctance, keeping in mind the analysis in What a Way to Go.
2. Gore discusses the relationship between human-generated rising CO2 levels and climate change (using ice core evidence), showing its relationship to worldwide temperature change (more CO2 = higher temperature--previously never >300ppm; now ~600ppm, and projected to be soon “off the chart”), to glacier melts and rising sea levels. Discuss the Scientific Basis of the basic features of the film’s argument.
3. Gore contends that “[climate change] is not a political issue but a moral issue.” What is this distinction supposed to mean? Explain what he might mean here and comment on what you think.
4. Compare Gore’s personal story about family as an impetus for new direction and change with that of Timothy Bennett in What a Way to Go.
5. Gore spends some time discussing the relationship between worldwide records for high temperature, including the oceans, and increased number and intensity of cyclones. This part of the argument has been criticized by many climate scientists. How and why might this dispute be important?
6. Gore cites Winston Churchill’s prophesying “a period of consequences” as a reaction to The Allies’ procrastination before WWII and compares this to our inaction on climate change. Is this an apt comparison? Explain.
7. Severe weather events, droughts and floods (instead of moderated distribution of moisture), soil evaporation and desertification, are said to be a result of human caused global climate change. Comment on his attempts to connect these problems to our impact on the planet.
8. Gore identifies two canaries in the coal mine: the Arctic and Antarctic (north and south poles). Polar ice melts portend accelerating climate change and changing shorelines, flooding heavily populated areas. They could mean the Ocean Conveyor possibly stopping thereby bringing another ice-age. Explain the canary metaphor here.
9. Gore contends that the combination of population growth and new science and technology create serious new problems, citing the modernization of China as an important example. Explain this point, keeping in mind the I=PAT formula. Compare this analysis to that of Timothy Bennett in What a Way to Go.
10. Gore provides an analogy to a boiling frog and contends it can be rescued. Daniel Quinn and Timothy Bennett take a much more radical approach to the problem, claiming for instance, that the current economic system must be abandoned if our civilizational path is to be corrected; whereas Gore seems to say that we can survive within this system. Explain the difference between these views (Hint: see to Quinn’s treatment of the Boiling Frog from Story of B, pp.258-75.)
11. Gore compared what we might call the Climate Change Denial as comparable to the denialism that occurred around the health problems in tobacco usage by the Tobacco Lobby. Is this an apt comparison? Explain.
12. Gore weaves his personal narrative in the presentation of his slideshow, and uses emotion to help convey his arguments. Does this detract from or enhance the film? Is it a substitute for good reasoning and research, or a needed complement?