Carole Cadwalladr writes: In the ballroom of a conference centre in Denver, Colorado, 972 people from 42 countries have come together to talk about climate change. It is March 2017, six weeks since Trump’s inauguration; eight weeks before Trump will announce to the world that he is withdrawing America from the Paris Climate Agreement.
These are the early dark days of the new America and yet, in the conference centre, the crowd is upbeat. They’ve all paid out of their own pockets to travel to Denver. They have taken time off work. And they are here, in the presence of their master, Al Gore. Because Al Gore is to climate change… well, what Donald Trump is to climate change denial.
It’s 10 years since the reason for this, the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, was released into cinemas. It was an improbable project on almost every level: a film about what was then practically a non-subject, starring the man best known for not winning the 2000 US election, its beating heart and the engine of its narrative drive a PowerPoint presentation.
When the filmmakers approached him, he explains to the room, “I thought they were nuts. A movie of a slideshow, delivered by Al Gore, what doesn’t scream blockbuster about it?” Except it was a blockbuster. In documentary terms, anyway. The careful accretion of facts and figures genuinely shocked people. And it’s a measure of the impact it had, and still continues to have, that Gore delivers this vignette to a rapt crowd who, over the course of three days, are learning how to be “Climate Reality Leaders”.
It’s the reason why we are all here – his foundation, the Climate Reality Project, an initiative that grew out of the film, provides intensive training in talking about climate change, combating climate change denial – and the tone might be described as “activist upbeat”. This is a crisis that is solvable, we’re told. Trump is just another hitch, another hurdle to overcome. And it will be overcome. Only occasionally does a sliver of despair leak around the edges. You have to stay positive, a man called David Ellenberger tells the audience. Though sometimes, he admits: “There’s not enough Prozac to get through the day.”
It’s almost a relief to hear someone acknowledge this. Because before there was “FAKE NEWS!!!” and the “FAILING New York Times!” Trump was tweeting about “GLOBAL WARMING hoaxsters!” and “GLOBAL WARMING bullshit!” The war on the mainstream media may capture the headlines currently, but the war on climate change science has been in play for years. And it’s this that is one of the most fascinating aspects of Gore’s new film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Because if the US had a subtitle at the moment, it might be that, too, and the struggle to overcome fake facts and false narratives funded by corporate interests and politically motivated billionaires is one that Gore has been at the frontline of for more than a decade. [Continue reading…]