Leslie and I went to see An Inconvenient Truth tonight. It is a fascinating movie and you should all go see it. We can argue about whether you believe it or not later but first just go see it.
Al Gore has been giving this slideshow talk for years and he has really honed his message. In the film he makes his case that global warming is a fact, it is accelerating and it will have disasterous effects if not dealt with immediately. Personally, I think this movie is also a love story about Mr Gore and his PowerBook. He doesn't go anywhere without that computer and that bit was quite touching -- but the global warming bit is the main part.
I think there were two things that really struck me about this film. The first is the obvious one and that is the impact that global warming will have on us. Not our great-grandchildren but our immediate families. In fact, it already is impacting us. My parents live in Florida and they travel during the summer to get away from Hurricane Central. I wanted to go skiing last year in Whistler, but they didn't have enough snow. There are plenty more consequences coming which are much more dramatic, but it is real.
The second thing that struck me was what this movie says about discourse in America. Global warming is a complicated issue. There is a lot of data that needs to be presented for it to go from "yeah, it'll be a bit hotter this summer" to "San Jose, among other places, will be under water permanently if this continues." Over the 95 minutes of this film, Al Gore makes his case. He builds it carefully and leads the viewer down the path explaining each part carefully and never in the boring monotone that characterized him in the 2000 election. This is one of those issues that takes 95 minutes or more to really understand. There are lots of other issues like that as well -- the complexity of labor relations, what security really means in software, cloning but the sad thing is that we never make time for this type of discourse anymore. It's strange, too, because it is the same technology that makes it so easy for a presentation like this to be made that also oversaturates us with so much information that we feel the need to get everything cut down to a 10 second sound bite.
This may have been part of the downfall of Gore in 2000. He knew too much and wanted to give people real answers to their questions but we don't want real answers anymore we want convenient answers that fit in with what we already know. Pieces that fit neatly into our puzzle of knowledge. This person / country / issue / policy / company / restaurant is good - or bad. We thin slice everything to get to a conclusion and then move on to the next one. The problem is that these issues can't just be thin sliced. They need to be fully consumed before you can really grok it and that takes time and energy.
So here's my recommendation for this weekend. Take just 95 minutes and go see An Inconvenient Truth. Drink it in and decide to do something about it or dismiss it and do nothing. That part is up to you but just give Al Gore and his PowerBook the chance to persuade you.