Al Gore Makes a Sequel

“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? COULDN’T YOU HEAR WHAT THE SCIENTISTS WERE SAYING? COULDN’T YOU HEAR WHAT MOTHER NATURE WAS SCREAMING AT YOU?” (Paramount Pictures, 2017)

These ominous words ring out in an exasperated plea from Al Gore in the trailer for his new documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel, a follow up film to his documentary released in 2006, An Inconvenient Truth. More than a decade after the release of the first documentary, this new preview release for Gore’s sequel seems to intensify his dramatic rhetoric for the critical need of global cooperation, along with some “I told you so” type of moments. Take a look below for yourself:

Both films focus on the dire need for humans to rethink their relationship with the environment and how it affects the world around us. In particular, there is a call for a re-evaluation of the way we fuel over 80% of our industries across the world with fossil fuels, a known emitter of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide (CO2). The new film preview features the horrifying results of human-aggravated climate change, spliced with ironic and apathetic statements by President Trump claiming that there is no real issue with how we interact with our earth. 

In his preview for the sequel, Gore opens with the observation, “We are drowning in the truth," filmed over footage taken in the last decade of flash floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and other extreme weather causing massive destruction both in the U.S. and abroad.  But he does not stop with just water—scenes of immense destruction caused by drought and forest fires, particularly from California’s detrimental recent water crisis, bombard the viewers in a visually beautiful, yet absolutely terrifying manner.  He then quickly changes to scenes abroad in third world countries of tremendous human suffering due to the destructive nature of increasingly powerful storms that flood entire low-lying nations with high coastal land area, destroying everything: their homes, their communities, their families, their loved ones.  He brings in the human element of climate change, showing sobbing families with nothing left, people in Asian cities with highly polluted air wearing face masks to defend themselves from respiratory issues. He ties in the notion that although global cooperation is a macro concept, the consequences of how well we respond to this as a global community directly affects the micro-elements—human lives. 

These scenes of destruction, pain, cries for help and human suffering are interjected with footage of President Trump jokingly addressing his audiences in the U.S., “It’s supposed to be 70 degrees today it’s FREEZING here; speaking of global warming...we need some global warming!” This is said to a cheering and laughing audience, exhibiting a blatant misunderstanding held by President Trump and the general American public of climate change and its effects.

So, for Mr. Trump and anyone else who is hazy on the specifics, here is a brief explanation. Climate change is due to greenhouse gases (such as CO2) being emitted into the atmosphere.  Once there, the gases trap heat from the sun in the atmosphere, acting as a shield to block escape back out into space.  These gases are normally admitted by animals and other natural systems, but ever since the industrial revolution and the advent of using fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas as fuel by combustion, CO2 rates have skyrocketed.  This results in a steady increase in the earth’s temperature, accounting for the 2-5 degrees Celsius increase in the world’s overall temperature.  Although this may not seem like a lot, 5 degrees Celsius is about the difference between the world today and the last Ice Age, but instead of increasing over several thousand years by this much, it has increased this much in little over a decade.

Also, keep in mind that although the air temperature is rising, the ocean is actually rising by much, much more due to the physical properties of water, resulting in higher evaporation rates of the world’s water.  This contributes to the increasingly massive and unpredictable weather patterns we have been seeing in the California water crisis, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy that have caused great destruction in both human lives and federal and state government spending to rebuild what was destroyed. So, in essence—climate change is not just an environmental issue, but a fiscal government issue as well.

As stated before, the global industry has a HUGE role to play in this.  The U.S. is by far the largest emitter of carbon dioxide globally, making us the main culprit.  Renewable energy, with very few environmental fallouts, in the form of wind, solar, water—and, yes, nuclear energy—are at our fingertips, yet why are we not pouring research into using them?  The main issue is that government lobbyists are attempting to protect corporations who have economic interests in oil, natural gas and coal. These lobbyists influence our politicians to demonize renewable energy, resulting in vows such as those made by Trump, his administration and powerful Republican voices in the House and Senate to massive spending cuts to the EPA and other environmental government research groups.  In fact, Trump has gone on record as wishing to “dismantle” the EPA and everything it stands for, which when you look to scientific research on the environmental repercussions of continuing to use fossil fuels, is quite frankly extremely terrifying. 

Trump and his administration are already well underway in making good on their campaign claims to repeal Obama-era environmental protection laws, moving to repeal a law that made it illegal for corporations to pollute our rivers and waterways.  So yes, we are at a point where the Trump administration supports throwing factory waste into our streams.  It is also ironic in terms of a corporate standpoint, as fossil fuels are a finite source, making renewable energy one of the most cost-effective and reliable options of new sources to fuel industry in our modern age.

We would like to end this piece just as Gore did on a slightly sinister note; politicians (including then President George W. Bush), government lobbyists and corporations mocked Gore’s warnings in 2006 after the release of his original documentary.  One scene that was criticized the most was Gore’s prediction, backed up by scientific studies, that we could see strong storm systems result in the flooding of one of America’s proudest symbols our unyielding resilience and unity—the 9/11 memorial. Well, we'll just remind you what flooded in 2012 in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (Dunlap, 2012).

Maybe with this sequel—the world will listen.