Johanna Mendelson Forman: Al Gore

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Al Gore’s latest venture in the film business has produced a movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” about the dangers of climate change. This feature film takes the famous Gore lecture on climate change and intersperses the science with biographical moments, those “Aha” moments that have formed the Al Gore we see today.
Some critics have panned the movie as one big infomercial for Gore, citing the film as his vehicle to make another run at the presidency. But they really miss the point. After viewing this movie I was left with the sense that the film’s title is really a metaphor for all the problems that the Bush administration continues to deny, from the war in Iraq, to the torture at Guatanamo, to the way the war on terrorism is being conducted. If Americans learn the truth, and broadcast to others via town hall meetings, maybe we can recapture what we lost in 2000! See www.participate.net, which the film’s website offers.
Gore’s movie is not a fear campaign but a steady build up to the case of renewable energy and clean fuels. And even though George Bush has suddenly discovered that there may be an energy crisis, and that ethanol may be the way out for us, the inconvenient truth to this new-found environmentalism is but an empty promise because money for large-scale renewable energy has been compromised by the ongoing expenditures on the global wars launched by this administration.
When Gore talks about political will as the basis for making tectonic shifts in the way Americans think about energy, he is also laying the foundation for other discussions about what it really takes to move a nation. And it is this need to mobilize and energize that begs the question: Who will do it and when? Certainly, the Democratic Party would like to be that vehicle, but is far from ready or able to unify around this issue. Offering a website for action, www.climatecrisis.net, the movie provides a primer for grassroots organizing. What remains unanswered by this movie is whether a very partisan discussion of climate change and no one can deny that Gore’s jabs at the Bush administration are anything less than that can indeed provide the tool so needed to move people beyond the complacency. Creating a movement that can inspire rational voters to change the course of the United State’s current trajectory is in itself an inconvenient truth that must be confronted before it is too late!
Johanna Mendelson Forman is a Senior Associate at CSIS and co-chair of the Real Security Program of The White House Project.

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