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Al Gore’s unusual film, An Inconvenient Truth, brings together much of what you already know about global warming and a few important facts that you might not know. More importantly, it is a remarkable effort to bring science into the public debate and from there into the creation of more effective public policy. You probably have heard by now that the film is essentially a high-tech animated slide show, with Gore as the narrator, interspersed with film clips of melting glaciers. The melting glaciers alone are worth the price of admission.
The more disturbing images for me are the animated maps showing the likely inundation of low-lying areas by rising sea levels, in particular Bangladesh (where 60 million people would be displaced), and the C0-2 emission charts showing the U.S. as by far the leading source of the problem.
The movie ends with charts showing that enlightened policies could reverse the build up of greenhouse gasses, and with a list of steps that viewers can take, ranging from adjusting their thermostats to running for Congress. It’s a peculiar experience to sit in a multiplex and watch a film that is data-driven and more like a college lecture than a summer blockbuster. I left wondering whether this film or anything else can create sufficient political will to begin to address this problem, but also convinced that failure to act would be catastrophic. Of all the many ways in which rich-world policies impact the developing world, this is surely the most dramatic. The film should serve as a global warming wake-up call for the international development community.
The website for the film, climatecrisis.org , includes links for finding theaters and show times, and for buying the book, and for pledging to see the movie. Don’t miss it.
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.