An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is a powerful film that will leave you talking days after you finish watching the movie and one that is on my short list for the best documentary this year.
Co-directed by Jon Shenk and Bonnie Cohen, the married team behind Actual Films, the film is a follow up to the Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, about climate change. This could have easily have been a stand-alone film with a focus on former Vice President Al Gore’s work with climate change and the environment but given the previous outing in 2006, the name recognition alone will get people to see this.
It’s a very powerful film. A group of us were watching in a small critics section at the Chicago premiere tonight and some of us had the same reactions watching the flooding on screen. When the footage appeared on screen of Swiss Camp, Greenland, where the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences has been based since 1990, it was jaw-dropping. The station has collapsed in previous years due to the melting snow. The “before photo” shows the floor being on even level with the snow but today, you need a ladder to climb to the entrance and there are areas in which it isn’t even safe to walk because of the ice melt.
Gore played a vital role helping make sure the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) got launched as well as doing whatever was needed to be done for the Paris Agreement of 2015, the groundbreaking climate change accords in which the world agreed to battle greenhouse gases. This is the same agreement that Donald Trump said that the United States would pull out of and not fund with U.S. tax dollars, much to the dismay of many Americans. The change that we need to do cannot come fast enough–not when ice shelves the size of Texas are breaking off of the Antarctic ice shelf.
Prior to the Paris Agreement, Gore had traveled to India to visit with Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of Energy and Power, and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. He made note of their concerns and reached out to companies that could help in making sure that they were on board.
We’re already seeing the flooding in Miami Beach and elsewhere, forcing cities to make a decision about infrastructure. In many ways, it would not be far-fetched to describe this as a horror movie because that’s exactly what will happen if we sit around and do nothing. We’re coming off of the hottest year on record (2016) and the climate only grows increasingly dangerous as a result. Sea ice is shrinking as glaciers are melting at a record level. Carbon dioxide levels have reached as high as 400 ppm in 2015–the last time it was this high, humans didn’t even exist. The spread of diseases–such as Zika–are linked to climate change.
At one point in Paris, Gore asks if they can take the subway because the street was too crowded. He’s seen talking with Miami Herald reporter Jenny Staletovich, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Telemundo’s Vanessa Hauc, taking meetings with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres, and listening to stories of those who are climate change refugees, a term used in the film to describe the survivors of the typhoon that hit Tacloban, Philippines.
This is the impact that Gore’s work with climate change and the environment has had on the public: investments in renewable energy is at an all-time high. Conservative Republicans such as Dale Ross, the mayor of Georgetown, Texas, want to have their city be 100% renewable so as to lower bills for their citizens. Ross even realizes that it’s a no-brainer because the less things that are in the air, the cleaner it is.
While the film premiered during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, a new epilogue was added when it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival. In the weeks that followed, the ending was changed yet again now that Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement.
Paramount Pictures and Participant Media released An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power in New York and Los Angeles on July 28, 2017 before expanding nationwide on August 4, 2017.