If you ask uber climate activist Al Gore whether all your Capitol Hill visits and letters to your elected officials and contributions to organizations and town hall meetings and street protests matter when it comes to climate change, he won’t hesitate when he answers.
In fact, they matter so much that whatever you’re doing, keep doing it, do more of it, and rope in your friends, family and colleagues so they can do it, too.
That is essentially the big message of his powerful new movie, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” a gripping documentary that is worth watching for these surprising reasons:
An “Inconvenient Sequel” lays unequivocally bare the impact climate change is having on humanity.
“An Inconvenient Sequel comes eleven years after its blockbuster progenitor, “An Inconvenient Truth”. That film won two Academy Awards for doing a masterful job explaining the science of climate change and convincing many climate deniers that global warming is real.
“An Inconvenient Sequel” updates the science, showing just how much hotter the world has gotten since “Truth” premiered. But “Sequel” also demonstrates the devastation a decade’s worth of unchecked greenhouse gas build-up has wrought on the planet, not just in melting ice bergs and the spread of Zika-carrying mosquitoes, but in the death tolls and community wreckage superstorms like Sandy have left in their wake. One of the most heartbreaking and powerful scenes in the film features workers in Pakistan digging graves in anticipation of the hundreds and possibly thousands of people who will die when — not if — an extreme climate-change related heat wave rolls over their country.
The film shows just how significant solar and wind have become as a source of both electricity and jobs.
As Gore told CBS, “There are now twice as many jobs in the solar industry as in the coal industry. Solar jobs are growing 17 times faster than other jobs in the U.S…. It’s one of the brightest spots in our economic revival.
“The single fastest-growing job over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is wind turbine technician. And if you take the efficiency jobs and the renewable energy jobs and add them together, they’re significantly more numerous now than all of the jobs in fossil energy. Fossil jobs are declining while the renewable jobs are growing fasters than other jobs.”
In the film, Gore visits Georgetown, Texas, “the reddest city in the reddest county in the reddest state” in the U.S., Mayor Dale Ross proudly reports. And yet, they’ve committed to going 100% renewable because it’s cleaner, more economical, and the wave of the future.
Declares Mayor Ross, “The less junk you put in the air, the better.”
An “Inconvenient Sequel” reveals some of the nail-biting negotiations that led to the unprecedented Paris climate agreement, along with Gore’s disdain for President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from those agreements.
Agreement in Paris was not fore ordained by any means, especially since the U.S. has been notoriously behind the curve in acknowledging the role burning coal and oil have played on the build-up of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Watching the agreement being unanimously ratified brought me to tears. Who knew it could be so emotional?
Gore credits one unexpected player with having a particularly outsized role in helping to convince the public that climate change is happening: Mother Nature.
“Mother Nature has entered the debate,” he says.
“In the last seven years we’ve had 11 “One-in-1,000-year” downpours in the U.S. We have these floods, and droughts, and sea level rise events, and the melting ice, and tropical diseases. Every night now on the television news is like a nature hike through the book of Revelation. And even if some of the newscasters don’t connect the dots, people themselves are. People who don’t want to use the phrase “global warming” or “climate crisis” are saying, “Wait a minute. Something’s going on here that’s not right.
“Mother Nature is persuading a lot of people who weren’t ready to believe what the scientists were saying.”
As Gore reflects on this, he projects the questions he expects future generations will ask: “What were you thinking? Couldn’t you hear what Mother Nature was screaming at you?”
“An Inconvenient Sequel” starts off a bit slowly, with a long focus on Al Gore himself and his day-to-day work networking, advocating, and the teaching he still does at workshops that help train climate change activists to carry his message into their communities.
There also could have been a much bigger focus on energy efficiency as a critical climate change solution. While people argue about whether to use coal or wind, no one should be arguing about insulating their homes, pumping up their tires, or reducing the energy that’s lost when power is produced hundreds of miles away from where it’s needed then delivered via aging transmission lines that leak power all along the route.
But those are minor flies in a very rich ointment. One other detail the film gets exactly right is its call to action.
In “An Inconvenient Truth,” so many “what you can do” suggestions rolled across the screen at the end that even my eyes glazed over.
The recommendation at the end of “Sequel” is solid and unequivocal: Convince your town to go 100% renewable. Yes. Absolutely.
Says Gore: “If President Trump refuses to lead, the American People will.”
That includes you and all of the million+ members of Moms Clean Air Force.
So follow the recommendation of the film’s hashtag and #beinconvenient. Why? Because Mother Nature expects no less.