An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Rated PG. Our ratings: V- 1; L – 2 ; S/N – 5. Running time: 1 hour 36 min.

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
Genesis 1:26

The earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein… Psalm 24:1

An Inconvenient Truth

The problem of this timely film about global warming is its messenger. Even though it has been six years since Al Gore narrowly lost the election for the U.S. presidency, he is still seen as a politician with a hidden agenda of keeping in the public spotlight so he can run again. This is a pity, as the problem of global warming is so great that it ought to transcend politics. It has in other nations, the majority of which have signed onto the Kyoto Treaty (though many otherwise are doing little to implement its provisions), but in this nation there are many who choose to dismiss global warming as an over-blown fiction created by wooly-minded tree huggers crying out like Chicken Little that the sky is falling.

I would love to be able to take the naysayers to this film because Mr. Gore answers all the objections with a mountain of observations from scientists who have studied climate and the environment for many years. To those who claim that the current warming is just another cycle, he points out that the ten warmest years in recorded history have all been within the last fourteen years. Scientists have been taking cores of polar ice, this revealing that the percentage of carbon dioxide is greater than it has ever been. He stands before a huge graph that shows the highs and the lows of carbon dioxide for the past quarter of a million years. There is a cyclical pattern, he agrees, but the percentage of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today has grown so high that the line is off the chart.

His sophisticated slide show is filled with alarming statistics and reports of polar bears threatened by the shrinking of the polar ice cap and then and now pictures of huge glaciers that have shrunken so greatly. Using the beautiful NASA photo “Earthrise,” he reminds us that as small as we humans are, the combined output of gasses from our cars and factories is affecting the atmosphere. To those who claim that the atmosphere is so huge that it is like an ocean, he points out that if the earth were compared to a large ball, the atmosphere would be no thicker than a coat of varnish. The film is sobering, and also suggests actions that we can take—some large, such as holding our politicians accountable for policies that will protect the environment, and many small, such as walking or riding bicycles more for errands, and recycling our trash. Many of the latter suggestions are cleverly worked into the closing credits, so do not get up and leave the theater out too early.

For Reflection/Discussion

1) What do you believe about global warming, given the testimony of so many scientists? What scientist can you find who believes that it is a myth? Be sure to check into the scientist’s background, namely, who writes his pay checks.

2) In light of all the evidence, why do you think those in power refuse to accept global warming as fact? Who gains and who loses were our government to take the warnings seriously? How is the film’s title applicable here? What do you think of the quotation, “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”?

3) Mr. Gore compares the controversy to the earlier one over that of cigarettes causing cancer. How was that an “inconvenient truth” to his father and himself? What price did they pay for being on the wrong side?

4) He points out that the problem of the growing hole in the ozone layer was successfully dealt with a few decades ago: what do you recall about that? What was done?

5) For more information about the film, global warming, and things you can do, go to the film’s official website at: http://www.climatecrisis.net/.

6) How do the two Scripture passages show that this issue is a theological as well as a moral one? Humanity was given “dominion over” the earth, but was this the confirming upon us of absolute power, or one of stewardship? How does the expulsion from the garden in the second creation myth show that it was the latter?

7) What are some of the things you are now doing to help conserve the environment? What other things could you do?