“AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER”
With articles about climate change going viral on social media, reports of extreme weather events and melting glaciers circling in the news, and the president’s decision to leave the Paris climate accord, this couldn’t be a better or scarier time for “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” to hit theaters. A follow-up to “An Inconvenient Truth,” the Oscar-winning 2006 documentary by former Vice President Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim, this film seems like it could be too terrifying or depressing for audiences concerned about climate change. But “An Inconvenient Sequel” is surprising, vital, fascinating, edifying and absolutely crucial viewing for all of us who plan to continue inhabiting this planet for a while.
Directors Bonnie Cohen and Jon Shenk take over for Guggenheim, and Gore is again the star, but this film is far more than a slideshow. There is footage of Gore giving talks around the world, but we follow him off the stage, too, as he experiences the real effects of climate change, wading through Miami high tides swamping the city streets, or visiting with victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated Tacloban city in the Philippines.
But the most compelling material follows Gore at the Paris climate talks in November 2015, when 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 many ways climate change will affect our existence. As climate events grow more extreme, he says, civilization will break down along the seams of class, wealth 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 Islamic State 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 simply existential quandary. Climate change will affect our lives in a multitude of ways, not just through weather.
Part of the story thrust of “An Inconvenient Sequel” 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. His careful diplomacy is thrown into stark relief against Donald Trump’s seemingly cavalier decision to leave the Paris accord.
Somehow “An Inconvenient Sequel” is empowering, not depressing. Gore is quick to remind us that parts of the world are picking up the renewable-energy slack — notably, Chile. There are signs of dire warning and signs of hope.
“An Inconvenient Sequel” once again poses a question: The window of opportunity is closing, so what are we going to do — now?