This American documentary was made 10 years after Al Gore’s Oscar winning, “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006), which injected the issue of Climate Change into broad public consciousness. The original film was instrumental in Gore being awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. It warned there was a problem, and said the world should do something.
This film is more complex. In the first part, Gore tells us there is a tragedy unfolding, and that there is now much more evidence to support what we need to be worried about. The second part depicts the power politics that led to the decision of the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris in 2015. In both parts, the camera follows Gore around as he engages with the issue. The movie reveals as much about Al Gore, as the topic of his concern.
Al Gore demonstrates in the film a life commitment to Climate Change. The sequel reports the progress that has been made to tackle the problem, and the extent to which the action and policies of world leaders are being affected. The movie almost ends with the consensus that was attained by the group of world leaders who signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, and it closes with President’s Trump’s withdrawal of US support for the Agreement in 2017. The movie argues strongly for climate responsibility, for effective political change, and for the fact that morality demands it. It says that the world is close to doing something about Climate Change. But agreement is not yet total.
The film illustrates terrible climate events, and uses archival footage to show them. The flooding of the “National September 11 Memorial & Museum” in New York City confirms the prediction that Gore made in 2006. Climate Change disasters are now a solid weapon in Gore’s armamentarium, and they offer a worst-case scenario for similar effects occurring in the future. The images of the catastrophes are visually very compelling and arouse strong emotion, and Gore is aiming them at those needing to be convinced. As a solution, the documentary favours support for a clean-energy, solar-driven economy. The film has been made to educate others about the developments that have occurred – not only in relation to the problem, but also with respect to possible solutions – and it does this well.
The last eleven years have not been kind to the planet and many of the predictions from Gore’s originally documentary have come to pass. Oceans are heating up; ice shelves are melting; communities are relocating because of rising sea levels; and more weather-disasters are taking place. Whether all these events converge in their significance to indicate a definite answer to the problem is not clear, but the film educates about a convergence that appears to be taking place.
Permeating the movie is the overriding optimism of Al Gore himself. He is a passionate believer in Climate Change and the need to do something about it, and the documentary powerfully illustrates his mission. The film is Al Gore’s personal statement, and it builds up considerable tension about what could happen in the future. No film can convincingly address the future, but the documentary tells us that Gore is fighting passionately for what the future might be.
On the issue of Climate Change more will undoubtedly be said, and if some think that Gore is losing a Battle, the documentary argues convincingly that the final War is yet to come. The film indicates impressively that things have got more desperate since 2006, and it engages the viewer by conveying that message forcefully. And responding to such a message in a positive way could be what Gore most wants his film to achieve.
No matter where one stands on the issue of Climate Change, the documentary conveys hope that the problem may be resolved. The film is well made, forcibly argued, and visually dramatic. It won’t turn vocal deniers into ardent activists, but that is not its purpose.
Peter W. Sheehan is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting
Review by the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting