Rated PG for thematic elements and some troubling images
Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk
Starring Al Gore, George W. Bush, John Kerry, Angela Merkel and more
Grade: Three stars
The best thing about the “Inconvenient Truth” documentaries is that they present global warming and the environmental crisis in a way that even the most upper-class suburbanite can understand and appreciate.
In “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” the stories Gore brings to the screen are far more interesting than Gore himself. An ice sheet that melted down the full height of a building over the course of a year. The Miami streets that are permanently flooding because that glacier melt is causing the world’s water levels to rise. A tiny Texas town, full of Trump campaign signs and self described as “the reddest state in the reddest county” in Texas, that is currently at 90 percent renewable energy with plans to move to 100 percent.
The documentary also provides a definitive answer for the common denier question “If the earth is warming up, why do we still have winter?” The documentary says that the entire bell curve of temperatures is moving towards the hotter side of the scale, which means that, while we still have cold days, we have far fewer colder than average days than we did 20 years ago or more. As the melting planes in the southwestern U.S. have made painfully clear, we also have far more hotter-than-average days.
Over the coming years, we’ll get fewer colder-than-average days a year. Eventually, we’ll start getting fewer colder days a year, period.
Though the facts themselves are alarming enough, the documentary is careful never to use scare tactics. Part of the reason for that is that everything is filtered through Gore’s near-constant onscreen presence, and as such comes across nearly as even keeled (and occasionally bland) as the man is himself.
Because of that, the documentary tends to become less interesting the more it focuses on Gore. I admire his dedication to the environment, but the tour of his house wasn’t something I had the slightest interest in. Still, I can see how his presence might be important to some audience members – climate change comes across very differently when it’s being described to you by an elder statesman in a nice shirt than it does a screaming college kid with a scraggly beard.
But it’s a Miami City official saying that they’re having to permanently raise some of the city’s streets in order to get rid of several feet of water that lingers longest in my memory. And it’s that deeply conservative Texas town that offers the best message, delivered by the round-faced, older mayor who said he considers renewable energy to be his responsibility to his constituents.
In his head, the need to take care of the environment isn’t a partisan issue. It’s just a matter of good sense and planning ahead.