“An Inconvenient Sequel” – This Movie is Worth Seeing

by Duane Nichols on November 18, 2017

Tokyo International Film Festival, 11/3/17

An Inconvenient Sequel – the science, history, and politics of climate change

From an Article by John Abraham, The Guardian, November 15, 2017

Al Gore’s new movie ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ is, in some ways, similar to his groundbreaking Inconvenient Truth project, but different in other ways. Those key differences are why I recommend you watch it.

This movie successfully accomplishes a number of interweaving tasks. First, it gives some of the science of climate change. Gore gets his science right. I remember his first movie, which I thought was more steeped in science and data than this one, so based on my recollection this new picture is somewhat abbreviated. That’s a good thing because the science is settled on climate change. That is, the science is settled that humans are causing current climatic changes and the science is settled that we are observing these changes throughout the natural world.

The opening of the new film shows a sample of the misguided attacks on Al Gore, exclusively from conservatives in the United States. It was so clear to me, when watching and listening, that these attacks are the same ones that we climate scientists constantly have to endure. Most scientists have not been attacked as consistently or for such a long duration as Mr. Gore, but the types of attacks he has had to handle are close cousins to what my colleagues and I experience on a regular basis.

Many conservatives, and some progressives too, claim that Al Gore made climate change political. But I now realize he didn’t. Al Gore was simply the first major political figure that took a stand on climate change. He would have loved to have been joined by anyone of any political persuasion. I firmly believe that the denialism we see from conservatives in the USA is partly because they cannot bring themselves to admit he was right.

In many people’s subconscious, it is better to deny the science and damn the world than admit a liberal former vice president was correct. And that failure is on them. Better people would rise above gut emotions and follow facts faithfully to where they lead. Instead, most US conservatives have tied their legacy to a climate denial movement that is causing and will cause irreparable harm to the planet, its biology, and human societies.

A party that calls itself “conservative” has acted out of accord with its stated values. And this fact should anger true conservatives. How could they allow an entire party to be tarred with this damning legacy? It isn’t Mr. Gore’s fault that conservatives have made climate denial a litmus test for their party. It isn’t Gore’s fault that conservative politicians have been bought by fossil fuel industries who have attacked climate science and climate scientists. It isn’t Al Gore’s fault that the Republican Party has stood in the way of the development of clean renewable fuels in the US. That is on them. It isn’t Mr. Gore’s fault that the very few conservatives who have taken a principled stand have been cast out from their party. The politicization of science is their scar.

With respect to the science, this new movie focuses on actual implications of climate change. Whether Mr. Gore is discussing Greenland’s crumbling ice sheet with scientists Eric Rignot or Konrad Steffen, or conversing with Miami city planners on ways to handle rising waters, the movie brings the implications of a changing climate home. Mr. Gore reminds us of projections for the future. For instance, South Florida may see 7 feet of sea level rise by 2100. City planners are considering ways to raise parts of the city to deal with this. Oh by the way, yes the best evidence shows we really may get 7 feet by 2100.

Later, Gore meets with people who have suffered through terrible and super-charged storms, such as recent typhoons in the Pacific. He lays clear the science that climate change is warming our oceans, providing extra fuel to make storms like Irma, Harvey, Sandy, and Maria more powerful. In these spots, his science is dead on.

This may make you wonder why I recommend people watch this movie. Isn’t it just more doom and gloom? Well, this is the exciting part. While the politics of climate change, at least in the USA (with a President and Congress in full denial mode, not only rolling back progress but sabotaging the science), what reason is there to be hopeful?

First, other countries are taking the lead from the US. I see this in my own work. Not only in basic science but in deployment of renewable energy. This is one area of great potential. Even though, as shown in the movie, fossil fuel companies and some conservative politicians are trying to sabotage clean energy markets, they cannot deny the economics. It just makes sense to use clean and renewable energy.

Do you remember that iconic scene from his first movie, where he followed greenhouse gas data upward using a lift? The gas levels were literally off the screen? Well, that gloomy image is replaced in the new movie by an equally iconic but optimistic animation of how countries are installing clean energy.

A large part of the story does deal with Al Gore’s personal journey. In many ways, this is mirrored in the journeys of climate scientists and people who care about the Earth’s environment. We have all experienced the ups and downs of this crisis; in fact, we’ve experienced them together whether we knew it or not. Interestingly, I have come around to a cautious optimism that is identical to Al Gore’s.

The election in the US was a climate disaster and it is turning out to be worse than we could have feared. The US President and Congress are doing everything they can to ensure more rapid and devastating climate change. They are doing everything they can to ensure more California wildfires, more Marias, more Harveys, and more Irmas. They are doing everything they can to bring us more California droughts and wildfires and Texas floods. They are doing everything they can to cut funding from climate science so we won’t know how bad it is. They are doing everything they can to make the USA a pariah nation. In fact, on the day I write this, the US has become the only country to reject the Paris Climate Accord. That is a stunning fact. What kind of country does this?

What they are doing is so un-American; so un-conservative.

But what these forces cannot do is turn back the tide of the economics. People are investing in clean energy because it makes economic sense. And this is the inflection point that makes the clean energy revolution unstoppable. That’s why I am optimistic. That’s why Al Gore is optimistic. That’s the threaded message in his movie. And it’s why you should be optimistic too.

See also: Is Trump the only villain of COP23? (Bianca Jagger, Huffington Post, November 17, 2017)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bianca Jagger November 18, 2017 at 5:29 am

Is Trump the only villain of COP23?

By Bianca Jagger, Huffington Post, November 17, 2017
Founder and President, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation

I have been at COP23 for the past two weeks. 20,000 people – world leaders, delegates, NGOs, indigenous groups from countries from around the world – descended on the small sleepy town of Bonn, Germany to negotiate the details of implementation for the Paris Agreement. Corporations and lobbies came to push their toxic fossil fuel agendas.

Climate change is the biggest threat we face in our time. For two consecutive years we have broken the record for the highest annual global temperature ever recorded. We are already experiencing the consequences of a warming world: Sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting and precipitation patterns are changing, natural disasters and extreme weather events becoming more intense and more frequent; species are being lost for ever in every ecosystem; increasing desertification, food and water scarcity and political unrest. The future of the planet at stake. Yet world leaders seem unable to commit to measures which will limit climate change, and ensure a world for future generations.

With less than 24 hours of negotiations left, who is putting a spoke in the wheel? Who is the villain of the piece? There are plenty of candidates for the role.

On the 13th November I fought my way through crowds into the US press briefing inside the Bonn Zone at the conference. Security cordoned off the area, preventing people from entering the corridor where the briefing was held. The panel, sponsored by the White House, had been entitled ”Action on Spurring Innovation and Deploying Advanced Technologies.” Weeks before, the US changed the name of the event to “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation.” It was an ominous sign of things to come. I wondered if this was some kind of sick joke.

This was the only event the US planned at COP23 and it quickly became evident why. As George David Banks, Trump special assistant for international energy and environment gave introductory remarks and Francis Brooke, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence moderated, the event was revealed for what it was. A shameful promotion of coal, nuclear and gas. It was, as Michael Bloomberg put it later, like ‘bringing tobacco to cancer summit.’ I was aghast. We were all in a state of disbelief.

Suddenly about a third of those in the room got to their feet. They were young college-age people. They brought out a banner, reading ‘We the People,’ raised it high and began to sing, to the tune of ‘God Bless the USA,’

So you claim to be an American

But we see right through your greed

It’s killing all across the world

Until you keep it in the ground.

We the people of the world unite

They all turned around, symbolically showing their backs to the panel. I was very moved by their defiance. They wanted the Trump administration and its minions seated on the platform to understand that fossil fuels and nuclear power are a threat to our survival and the environment. They weren’t going to take it lying down, they were ‘here to stay’. I was glad that security were either too slow or unwilling to force them out of the room, as usually happens to protesters. They left, singing their song, shouting that anyone who chose could follow them to ‘the people’s summit.’

After their courageous intervention, the mood in the room changed. For some of the audience, disbelief now gave way to anger. People were muttering under their breath. There were boos and hisses. The audience questions were challenging, some openly hostile.

Climate Home News asked if the Trump administration held to the policy that the 2-degree Celsius, or 3.6-degree Fahrenheit warming target from the Paris deal must be avoided at all costs. George David Banks replied: “I actually don’t know that means.”

Throughout the questions, a voice at the back of the room called at intervals – ‘You are all f——ing liars!’

Finally, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now asked the panel whether they supported Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Most were evasive. When Lenka Kollar, director of business strategy for NuScale Power, said she did not support the decision, the crowd cheered. I did not join in. It felt like an empty victory.

There is no doubt that the fossil fuel lobby has a strong foothold at the negotiations. ‘Bribery is exactly what is going on,” former NASA scientist James Hansen, told the Guardian on the sidelines of the talks in Bonn. For decades Hansen has been one of the leading voices warning us of the threat of climate change. He called today for the 100 big “carbon majors” – corporations like ExxonMobil, BP and Shell that are, by one account, responsible for more than 70% of emissions – to pay for the transition to cleaner energy and greater forests through litigation. Until governments make them do so by introducing carbon fees or taxes, he says, the best way to hold them to account and generate funds is to sue them for the damage they are doing to the climate, those affected and future generations. Once again, he is right.

The young people’s intervention at the White House panel was not the only inspiring moment at COP23. This year the COP is hosted by Fiji (though held in Germany for practical reasons) For the first time, a small island whose future is profoundly affected by climate change has the Presidency of the COP. The fatal consequences of a warming world are front and centre, at COP23.

12 year old Timoci Naulusala, whose village in Fiji’s Tailevu province was hit by Cyclone Winston last year addressed the COP on Wednesday November 15th at the opening of the high-level segment. He had won a competition among all primary school children in Fiji to deliver his message to the COP.

“My home, my school, my source of food, water, money was totally destroyed,’ he said. ‘ My life was in chaos. The sea is swallowing villages, eating away at shorelines, withering crops. Relocation of people…cries over lost loved ones, dying of hunger and thirst. Its catastrophic. It’s sad…but its real. You may think it will only affect small nations…you are wrong.”


Climate change is an issue that will determine ‘our destiny as mankind’ as Angela Merkel said in her statement at the opening of the High Level Segment. I wish countries’ commitments at the COP would reflect this urgency. We are nearing the end of negotiations at COP23. I do not have high hopes for the end result.

I was at COP18 in Doha, in 2012, when the World Bank released their groundbreaking report ‘Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4° C Warmer World Must be Avoided‘.

I remember how the report irrevocably changed the discourse among negotiators, the business community and the media. It came not just from a reputable NGO, but from the World Bank, one of the most powerful multinational financial institutions in the world.

As the report states, any rise above 2°C is apocalyptic, leading to ‘increasing… fires and pests… widespread tree mortality. Forest dieback and thawing of permafrost threaten to amplify global warming as stored carbon and methane are released into the atmosphere, giving rise to a self-amplifying feedback loop.” Methane has 25 times more impact on global warming than CO2 per ton of gas.

In a 3 degree warmer world there will be 100 million more poor by 2030 on top of 900 million expected to be living in extreme poverty. Weather patterns will change everywhere. Malaria epidemics will increase and the number of people at risk of malaria may rise up to 5 percent, affecting more than 150 million people. It will cause 48,000 additional deathsamong children from illness by 2030. One-fifth of the planet’s 720 world heritage sites will be affected as ice sheets melt and warming oceans expand. The Sydney Opera House, the Tower of London and the Statue of Liberty “will be lost to sea level rise.”

The science is unequivocal. World leaders who are content with the 3.4 degree target must also take responsibility on their shoulders for what they will cause: catastrophic and irreversible climate change.

I fear that in the end climate change does not have one villain, but many. Apathy and lack of commitment from the leaders of rich, developed countries will doom us all. They must commit to limit the global temperature increase to below 1.5 °C. The hourglass has run out. There is no time left.

‘1.5 to stay alive.’ I have heard this phrase chanted by NGOs and protesters at many COPs over the years – their voices raised in the Warsaw cold, or the heat of Peru – pleading for the planet. Their words have never been more relevant.

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/is-trump-the-only-villain-of-cop23_us_5a0f3869e4b023121e0e9261


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