An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power 12.08.17
There I sat in a front row seat in the Cameo cinema (the room sold out), waiting for the film to start. A mawkish musical montage came on once, and then a second time, to groans from the audience. We waited as Al Gore prepared to have his question-and-answer down in London at Picturehouse HQ, simultaneously beamed to 300 cinemas all around Britain. Twenty minutes later, and his session became live.
He spoke well, even if he's not the lean and in-shape man he used to be. Still, it's interesting how Democratic ex-Presidential candidates come across better when they talk than their frail and fragile Republican equivalents, at least if you compare W Bush with Bill Clinton or Gore, or Reagan with Carter. I wonder how Trump will compare, fifteen years hence, to Obama. What state will Trump be in, and in what state will he leave America, and the world?
It may not matter. The biggest impact of Al Gore's new documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel, is to show how the world is embracing new technologies to combat global warming and reality has already bitten. Trump, like Bush before him, is a climate-change denier who appears not to realize the ones he thinks he's serving have already accepted the facts of climate change and are now making plans. One funny moment of the documentary was Al Gore's visit to a Texan Republican mayor, who is having his city switch to clean, renewable energy. Elsewhere, with one particularly dramatic example in Chile, renewable energies are - if you'll pardon the pun - going full steam ahead.
There are tenser moments. The Paris conference that brought the nations of the world together on climate change sees Gore desperately making phone calls to allow India interest-free deals to acquire green technologies; the Indian head of state will otherwise begin authorising hundreds of new coal-fuelled plants. Gore's phone calls have effect, and India comes on board. Yet also significant is the vulnerability of Miami, Florida, whose Republican senator refuses to meet with scientists or acknowledge climate change, while the city floods with increasing regularity. I would have loved to see more of this, some naming and shaming of those colluding with big business to ensure climate-change facts are repressed. But perhaps this would have been at odds with the spirit of Gore's piece, which is mainly optimistic, in spite of some tragic and terrifying images, including a new phenomenon of 'rain bombs', part of the extreme new trend of precipitation. Also worth noting is the recent flooding of the 9/11 Ground Zero, predicted by Gore in his 2006 documentary and scorned by climate-change deniers at the time.
How good is this documentary overall? I enjoyed it and found it easy viewing; on a personal level, you also watch the images of the younger, handsome Gore and wonder the big 'what if' concerning the 2000 US election. He truly might have been a President for the age, if only for his single-minded focus on renewable energies. Regardless, if An Inconvenient Sequel doesn't have quite the impact of the original Inconvenient Truth, this is partly because the original has already managed to shape the narrative and spark the self-reflection. This latest documentary serves as a useful reminder of what has been achieved, and what remains to be done. May another one be produced ten years from now; with renewable technologies now proving increasingly less expensive, than fossil fuels, one senses the climate-change deniers are tomorrow's forgotten people, and a greener world is a case of when, not if.But still, a final thought: Gore was asked at the outset about diet and veganism; he danced around the question, wishing not to commit to answering, though he himself seems to like the idea. As a lover-of-meat myself, I wonder if this is part of an unavoidable bigger picture, whether the answer to the growing horrors of industrial farming aligned to population growth is veganism or artificial, lab-produced meat. It's something that's playing on my mind increasingly, and more solutions to our situation with food is another big discussion to be had.