An Inconvenient Sequel about fixing the problem

A documentary
Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shank

The film starts with glaciers melting, while we hear commentators from Fox News and similar outlets trashing Al Gore as an alarmist and a liar. We hear the lies, while we see the truth.

Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, was strong on bad news, but weak on improving the situation. His new feature, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truths to Power, is all about fixing the problem. It has another advantage over the original: It’s much more than just a slideshow.

Am I biased? Yes. Human-caused climate change is real and is an existential threat to our species. I would probably not give an A to a well-made film promoting fossil fuels. But neither would I give that grade to a badly-made documentary I agreed with.

Davis Guggenheim directed An Inconvenient Truth. Bonni Cohen and Jon Shank
directed An Inconvenient Sequel. But Gore is the real auteur of both films. He narrates them, usually on screen. He and his team did the research and provided the information. He’s telling the story.

The first film was little more than a canned PowerPoint presentation. Gore stood on a stage, in front of a live audience, and gave a lecture. There’s a bit of that here, but it’s not the main show. An Inconvenient Sequel follows Gore as he visits Paris for the Climate Change Conference. We see him visiting Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, trying to turn him away from basing his country’s new electric grid on coal.

And yes, we see him standing on various stages, lecturing an audience. But this time, he’s not trying to scare them into doing something. He’s teaching them how to do it, providing the facts and selling points needed to convince others and save the planet.

India plays an important part in the film. Modi understands the problems of climate change, but he still intends to base his new grid on coal. The west burned coal for centuries, and now, he feels, it’s his country’s turn. Besides, coal is cheaper. So Gore finds ways to make solar affordable in India. Horrible weather, in the form of powerful storms and heat waves so hot the asphalt melts, helps Modi change his mind.

Climate change is causing horrific weather, with more and stronger storms and dryer draughts. Gore shows us flooding in the third world and in southern Manhattan. He connects an economy-killing draught in Syria from a few years back with the current civil war (and yes, he acknowledges other problems, including an evil dictator).

And then there’s Florida. Gore visits Miami during a flood that overwhelms the city’s pumps. Florida, which calls itself the Sunshine State, has a government that actively discourages solar power, despite the fact that much of the State will be under water in a few decades.

But Gore also points out the positive. Clean energy is getting cheaper. More people are understanding the threat. He even visits a small, rightwing Texas town turning to renewables – the same town that was featured in the last climate change doc I reviewed, From the Ashes.

As in the first film, Gore comes off as a warm, self-effacing guy determined to save the world. He describes himself as a “recovering politician.”

An Inconvenient Sequel makes you want to get up and do something good for the planet.