An Inconvenient Sequel: a call to arms on climate change

Al Gore in Greenland. Image: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power


An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Directed: Bonni Cohen and Jon Shen
Stars: Al Gore
Rating: ★★★★½


An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power opens with the beautiful, serene image of icebergs, starkly white in contrast to small rivers of pristine aqua water flowing through the ice.

The shot follows the rivers as they grow, gaining force and current, until the image fully expands. Horrifyingly, the river of water is a melting glacier.

The highly anticipated follow-up to Al Gore’s award-winning 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth is on release in Australia, after the former US vice president visited Melbourne to promote the movie and speak at the Ecocity World Summit.

The beauty of the natural world and the despair toward the speed of its destruction is masterfully married in the documentary, giving viewers a taste of what is being lost as a consequence of climate change.

Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Hurricane Sandy in the US, and floods in South India during the Paris Climate Conference are just some examples of footage that is used to shock viewers into action.

As the public followed the environmental activist through the negotiations of the Paris climate agreement in late 2015, it is clear that the goal of this sequel, and the climate movement more broadly, are neither insignificant nor straightforward.

While the tone of the documentary is held up by Gore’s unwavering positivity, the significance and the undeniable reality of the impact of climate change in the current world is felt throughout.

The raw footage of extreme natural disasters caused by the release of greenhouse gases is horrifying, and the documentary highlights the impact that these weather patterns might have on humans.

Sandy turned into a Category 2 superstorm nearly 1600km wide. Picture: NASA

The original documentary was widely criticised for “alarmism and exaggeration”. One of the main criticisms focused on his claim that sea level rise due to melting ice caps in Greenland and North America, combined with storm surges, endangered various low lying cities and the September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center in New York.

Gore’s emphasis in the sequel on the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the extensive damage it caused to the memorial site, sends a powerful message to the viewer.

Unlike the original, the sequel is more of a call to arms for wide-scale public action than a piece of science communication and – despite the pessimistic image painted of the world- rising sea levels and unprecedented weather events – it remains hopeful about the human response.

Not only is this hopefulness centered around Gore’s optimistic attitude of the future, despite having lived through many years of opposition and adversity to climate action, it also stems from the change Gore has effected through his work.

For example, the success of Gore’s climate warrior training program, introduced in the original documentary, is demonstrated by the high-level involvement of some of the program’s participants in the Paris climate talks. This includes the former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres.

This confirmation of the real, tangible change those touched by Gore’s message are creating through personal passion and drive uplifts and excites viewers.

Importantly, it unites the passion of those invested in climate change and highlights that through optimism and solidarity, the need for environmental protection is real and urgent.