This movie review may seem off topic, but it raises important questions about the abuse of science in our culture.
GORE’S HOT AIR
By KYLE SMITH
May 24, 2006 — AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
AL GORE’S global-warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” is sure to get an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary, but Gore should campaign for Best Actor, too.
Avoiding the usual vein-popping diatribes, he comes across as learned, calm and folksy. But much of what Gore says in this slide show he gives to people whose minds are not yet fully formed (undergraduates, actors) is absurd, and his assertions often contradict each other.
He implies that no reputable scientists dispute anything he says – basically, that the ice caps are melting and people on the 50th floor of the Empire State Building had better learn to swim. But there is wide disagreement about whether humans are causing global warming (climate change preceded the invention of the Escalade) and about whether we should be worried about the trends. Look carefully at Gore’s charts and you’ll see that the worst horrors take place in the future of his imagination.
His implication that he is our only hope – every ticket bought for this movie amounts to a soft-money contribution to his 2008 campaign – is ridiculous. He and his friends were in charge for eight years. His charts say global warming got worse in that time. The environment doesn’t seem to care whether the president is a Texas oilman or the Man from Hope.
Global warming hasn’t noticed that we got the lead out of our gasoline or that Stage One smog days in Los Angeles fell from 121 in 1977 to zero in 2004. All regulations and taxes to date have done nothing. Does this hint that pollution isn’t the cause?
Gore claims, with pie-chart-in-the-sky dreaminess, that unspecified measures can reduce emissions to 1970 levels. He assesses the tradeoff between the economy and the environment with the kind of buffoonery you’d expect in a Marxist comic book, displaying a cartoon of a scale with Earth on one side and bars of gold on the other. “OK, on one side we have gold bars,” he says. “Mmm, mmm, don’t they look good!”
Why doesn’t he get specific and replace the “gold bar” side of the scale with, say, a $50,000 tax on SUVs? The ensuing destruction of the car business would hurt blue-collar workers, not the rich. What if global warming continued unabated? Gore’s faith-based pessimism would lead him to call for even more taxes.
People are skeptical about global warming because it builds up to the same chorus as every other lefty hymn: more taxes, more hypocritical scolding (the film is the brainchild of Larry David’s wife, Laurie, part of the community of people who drive a Prius to the private plane) and especially more America-bashing.
Gore says that America, alone, is the problem. Taking us to China, he ignores the filth spewed into the air by its coal-fired cities. He does not meet with bronchitic citizens who wear surgical masks outdoors and pause to hawk up brown gunk every few minutes. Instead, he tells us America is lagging behind. “China,” he says, “is on the cutting edge” of environmentalism. Nonsense.
Gore is a dangerous evangelist for whom all roads lead to his sole, holy revelation. Remember how his son was injured in a car accident, the story he told at the 1992 convention? He’s still telling it, and what was once touching has become exploitative. This time, the accident’s meaning is that he wondered whether the Earth would still be there for his son. (Never mind that earlier in the film, he dates his eco-awakening to his Harvard years).
A sister who smoked and died of lung cancer? The lesson is that those who used to deny that smoking caused disease were wrong, so anyone who doubts catastrophic global warming must also be wrong.
Still not convinced that Gore’s mind has only one emission? “We have to think differently about war,” he says, referring to environmental effects of weapons. “We can’t just mindlessly continue the patterns of the past.” It’s a chilling statement: Even when bombs are flying, Gore promises to measure CO2 first.
The man’s shamelessness is astounding when he compares himself to Churchill, but that’s not the worst of it. The final shot of Gore shows him bravely silhouetted against the cosmos, a lone figure tenderly surveying the firmament. The job he really wants, no recount can give him.