Since last week, Al Gore has been speaking to San José cinemagoers about some upcoming changes around the planet, through his documentary of global warming’s greatest hits.
About 150 Universidad Nacional (UNA) students and other interested parties previewed “An Inconvenient Truth” last week in Heredia, north of San José; some 75 stayed after the film to listen to UNA faculty discuss global warming, environmental stewardship and humanity’s appetite for personal comfort.
Subtitled “Una Verdad Incómoda” – literally “an uncomfortable truth” – the film enflamed the passions of UNA’s Congress Toward a New Humanism and Week of Social Sciences, sponsors of preview forums Monday and Tuesday.
If we keep on the tack of unbridled energy consumption, “there will be no future for our planet,” said Olman Segura, economist and rector of Universidad Nacional.
Directed by Davis Guggenheim, the film amplifies the speaking tours of former U.S. Vice-President Gore, who explains the recent and unprecedented warming of the earth through charts, parables and pictures. Then and now photos, from the last few decades, of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Himalayas, the Alps, the Rockies and the Andes show receding masses of snow and ice. The polar ice of the Artic is thinning; Rhode Island-size chunks of Antarctic peninsular ice are sliding into the sea.
Is it controversial? Are temperature hikes of the last 50 years part of a natural cycle? Scientists say no, Gore maintains, citing a 10-year survey of scientific journals in which 928 relevant articles accept a correlation between rising carbon dioxide emissions and global warming, and no article questions it.
Through graphs and cartoons, Gore explains that burning forests, burning coal for electricity, burning petroleum for transport – basically, burning anything – puts carbon dioxide in the air, which thickens the atmosphere and traps sun rays.Warm water makes ice melt faster.Warm air dries up soil and causes drought in some areas, while causing storms and flooding in other areas.
The force of Hurricane Katrina, Gore says, was extraordinary in part because of warmer waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
The movie alternates among filmed presentations before international crowds, personal reflections (Gore driving his car, talking on the phone, gazing at his laptop computer) and video footage of scientists and politicians.
Much of the personal side shows a discouraged presidential candidate, a dreamer who thought he could put the United States on a more environmental path. There is a clip of Bush senior saying if Gore gets his way, “we’ll be up to our neck in owls and out of work – that guy’s crazy!”
According to forum promoter and UNA professor Gabriel González, some critics said the film is a pity party in which Gore vainly tries to show how he was cheated.
“And so what?” González said. The university panel suggested Gore was overly modest in his political criticism. González said “the mafia that governs the United States, that is governing the world,” and that “robbed” the presidency in 2000, isn’t interested in evidence of global warming, and neither are the big corporations.
“But we should be,” he said.
“An Inconvenient Truth” (in English with Spanish subtitles) is now playing in Mall San Pedro, east of downtown San José, and will travel to other CCM theaters around the country in the coming weeks; keep an eye on the Movies listings to see when it will be showing at a theater near you.