An Inconvenient Truth

Starring: Al Gore
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: E
Available 26 December 2006

Former Vice President Al Gore presents an eye-opening and compelling view of the future of our planet and our civilisation. This is a wake-up call that cuts through myths and misconceptions to deliver the message that global warming is a real and present danger. This DVD brings home Gore's persuasive argument that we must act now to save the earth. Each and every one of us can make changes in the way in which we live our lives and become part of the solution...

An Inconvenient Truth is a documentary based on former Vice President Al Gore's slide show presentation about the effects of global warming on our planet. However, unlike most documentaries, this is a pretty one sided view with no attempt to show any view other than the fact that we are causing a catastrophic change to the climate of our planet's environment.

Now I know that scientists the world over have differing views on this, and that the majority are in agreement that things are bad. But I am always rather sceptical of experts claims. Why? Well, reports and statistics can always be bent to fit an individuals arguments. Remember the Millennium Bug? Remember the way that the establishment paraded expert after expert to tell us that on New Year's Day in the year 2000 computers would grind to a halt and the world would stop turning etc.?

Now something like this should have been simple to prove - it was a "scientific fact" we were told would definitely happen. Unless industry and individuals paid a fortune (and some did) to have computer systems upgraded then their businesses would be unworkable over night. And what happened? Nothing. On reflection the whole thing looks like a huge con cooked up by IT experts to make more money - they even got the UK government to produce fact sheets and guides on how to help overcome the problem. And all for nothing.

An Inconvenient Truth examines another theoretical horror - that unless we change the way we live, our planet will become unliveable for the human race. While this is an interesting and thought proving movie, I had a few issues with it.

Now, to give you a bit of background of where I am coming from I think it's important to give you a brief explanation of my professional career. I've been a journalist for industry trade publications for years, and for a number of years I was the features editor of Electronics Times. Whilst there one of my main areas of expertise was the impending Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. As a consequence of this I travelled all over Europe attending numerous conferences on what the directive would mean for businesses; how companies could prepare for the directive; and what the environmental benefits were of implementing the directive. Because of this, I think it's fair to say that I know the difference between a good and a poor presentation.

The problem with Gore's show is that he quotes scientific papers and research without actually stating who did the work, for what purpose and what their final conclusion was. Gore constantly refers to his "facts" as "scientists believe" or "the experts predict". This means nothing unless you explain who these scientists are and what the report was for. Slide after slide is presented with hardly any of them stating the source of the data. Now, far from it from me to suggest that Gore simply made all these facts up, but I think that some sort of context would have been helpful.

This problem is further compounded when you listen to one of the audio commentaries. The movie's director, Davis Guggenheim, states that Gore found all the information for his presentation on the Internet. Everyone knows that the Internet is rife with incorrect information and this makes it even more important that Gore lists his sources.

While the end of the DVD lists loads of scientific organisations it's not really clear how they contributed. Guggenheim states that Gore's original slide show presentation wasn't usable as all of his images where too poor quality to be used on the big screen. Therefore they tracked down new images for the DVD. So when they thank a source it could just be for providing a picture of an ice cap, not for the research.

I am assuming that Gore makes most of his money these days from touring the world and giving his lecture to packed out theatres. And possibly the main reason that a lot of people go to listen to him is because of his infamousy - everyone knows that he cruelly missed being elected president of the United States of America because of some very dubious accounting in Florida (a debate I won't even go into here, but I think everyone has their own views on that). Would he play to packed out theatres if he was just an unknown scientist? I doubt it. This is also mentioned on Guggenheim's commentary when he talks about his initial reluctance to direct this movie. He states that he thought that the idea of the presentation was compelling in person "when you have a former Vice President and historical icon" but is not a good idea for a film.

Extras include an audio commentary with the director; an audio commentary with the producers; an update interview with Al Gore (32 mins); The Making of An Inconvenient Truth featurette (11 mins); and a music video of the theme song I Need to Wake Up by Melissa Etheridge.

At the end of the day, this movie does make us think seriously about the potential damage we are doing to our environment, but whether or not this film will make many people change their habits is debatable - we are a lazy species. Gore himself is constantly shown flying all over the world with his lecture which surely goes against his policy of polluting the environment. A bit churlish on my part to bring this up, I know, but it is, sad to say, an inconvenient truth.

Darren Rea

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