All in all, it's a fantastic, satisfying, and inspiring film. It lays down an explanation of global warming in wonderfully articulate detail. Coupled with what we like to refer to as the "sustainability tipping point", I believe it will represent the first large scale moment of awakening to the issue for the American public. This really is the experience that will leave no doubt in anyone's mind of the severe realities of what could face us.
But understanding the issue is only the first step. Whether or not this film produces positive action, despair, or denial is the big question.
Problem number one is that there will be a well financed backlash to this film. Please read on for more...People will pick this film to pieces, as any good critic should. They will find a few minor inconsistencies and will blow them out of proportion. The decline of the Aral sea, for example, has nothing to do with global warming, it has to do with stream diversion for irrigation, so its inclusion in the film is indeed a little awkward. But these points are tiny compared to the multitude of well articulated evidence the film includes. Real Climate has the best discussion about the film's factuality going on here. It's well worth reading up on.
The problem is that selective fact finding will fuel denial, including funded backlashes. The bizarre advertisements that ExxonMobile-funded CEI produced may be downright asinine, but they will find their way into millions of homes. They will confuse people to no end. There will also be cynicism - ManBearPig will give you a taste, although hopefully the South Park boys are smart enough to hit the Exxon funded "CO2 is life" ads harder. Get ready to deal with this stuff.
Secondly (and I promise this gets better), the film is also short on solutions...
The most important fact on which the entire film is based is explained in a relatively short segment showing that current concentrations of CO2 are at an unprecedented high due to human action, and will likely go higher unless changes are made. The consequences of increased CO2 are shown to correspond with temperature increases and the various potential calamities most of the readers of TreeHugger are well familiar with. Many people will shrug their shoulders and say, "well, if it's already up that high we're pretty much screwed since there's no way it's coming down". The despair and inaction many people will feel won't help much more than the denial. And then there's the problem of getting people to actually see it, and keep the film's message in their consciousness for more than a week.
So what about that positive action? As a TreeHugger reader you're already in tune with a positive "win-win" way of approaching the issue of global warming along with the multitude of other challenges the planet and society face. This film will only be a success if, after watching it, you, me, and like-minded media such as TreeHugger are prepared to start talking about solutions to the doom and gloom prophecy and to make people realize they, individually, can make a big difference - averting denial and despair. This film is a stunning vision of un-sustainability, but what we need now is a vision of sustainability.
That said, get out and GO SEE IT. Preferably see it on opening weekend as high demand will ensure it gets into more cinemas, and into a broader, more mainstream audience. And bring a few friends. As anyone who's ever tirelessly preached to the choir knows, getting the word out into the world beyond your usual haunts is the most important thing for an issue that affects us all and will ultimately require change by all if anything is to be done about it.
So what can TreeHuggers talk about after this movie hits the screens?
Let's talk about carbon negative activities. Tell people about the Chicago Climate Exchange - a non-governmental voluntary program to reduce emissions. Talk about the (experimental) concept of sequestering CO2 in former oil wells, metion amazingly innovative companies like Eprida, DriveNeutral and TerraPass.
And perhaps most importantly, introduce people to the concept of "voting with your dollars". Spending a little more money here and there on more responsibly designed products, a better car, you name it, is literally an investment in the future, and will pay off in spades.
Finally, a realistic anecdote:
At the end of the film, Al Gore stuck around for some Q&A.; A woman suggested that Al Gore's newfound ability to speak his mind freely about this and many other issues might be the silver lining in the clouds of the 2000 election - and that perhaps, ironically, more can be done for the issue today because of that defeat. Mr Gore said he was flattered, but that, we shouldn't kid ourselves - there is no more powerful voice on earth than that of the President of the United States.
So don't forget your perspective and assume that this film alone with revolutionize thought on a planetary level. Only combined with better leadership, wiser economic choices, and your collective voices will that happen. Are you up to the task?