With articles about climate change going viral on social media, reports of extreme weather events circling in the news, and the president’s decision to leave the Paris climate accord, this couldn’t be a better time for “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” to hit theaters.
A follow-up to former Vice President Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim’s Oscar-winning 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” this film is surprising, fascinating, edifying and crucial viewing for everyone who plans to continue inhabiting this planet for a while.
Bonnie Cohen and Jon Shenk take over directing duties, and Gore is again the star of the show, but this film is far more than a slide show. There is footage of Gore giving talks at his climate leadership trainings around the world, but we follow Gore off stage, too, as he experiences the real effects of climate change, wading through Miami high tides swamping the streets, or visiting victims of Typhoon Haiyan that devastated Tacloban City in the Philippines.
The most compelling material follows Gore at the Paris climate talks in November 2015. Arriving early, Gore and his team have to be evacuated in the wake of the Bataclan terrorist attack. It’s an incredible moment that lets Gore expound on the ways climate change will affect our existence. Climate events are going to become more extreme, and civilization will break down along the seams of class, wealth, access and other social dividers. His description of the way the drought in Syria played a part in the civil war that paved the way for ISIS to gain traction is illuminating and chilling.
Climate change isn’t just a scientific or environmental issue, and “An Inconvenient Sequel” demonstrates the ways in which it has become a political, industrial, economic, health and existential quandary. Climate change will affect our lives in a multitude of ways, not just through weather. It will chip away at our day-to-day lives — take, for example, the effects of superstorm Sandy on the New York subway system.
Part of the film’s thrust is Gore’s tireless negotiation in Paris to bring India into the agreement, and to prevent the building of hundreds of coal-burning factories to create jobs. Gore’s careful diplomacy is thrown into stark relief with Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Paris accord.
Somehow, “An Inconvenient Sequel” is empowering, not depressing. Yes, the visuals of Gore walking on rapidly melting glaciers are horrifying. But he is quick to remind us that other parts of the world are picking up the renewable energy slack, notably Chile. There are moments to cheer as well as jeer.
There are signs of hope, and signs of dire warning. There have been chances to take action, and we haven’t yet embraced that moment. This film tells us that the window of opportunity is closing.
‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’
Rated PG for thematic elements and some troubling images. 1:38. Fayette Mall.