Or what Al Gore did next. Whatever the ex-US vice-president’s broader motives for making this film now and embarking on a high-profile world tour, you can’t fault his sincerity, rigour and energy as he pleads, with recourse to blinding graphs and damning photo evidence, that we all – especially his fellow countrymen – need to sit up and realise that global warming is neither a wacky theory nor a political manifesto, but stone-cold reality. It’s a message, of course, that has most resonance in the United States – one of two countries still to ratify the Kyoto Treaty; the other is Australia – but this unashamed, campaigning documentary also has strong appeal beyond America and succeeds on three main counts: it is utterly convincing, it’s emotionally powerful and it makes Gore look more charming than he ever did as a presidential candidate.
Much of the film is a straight, unfussy record of Gore’s global lecture tour. Footage of him at the lectern, palatable science and mild gags at the ready, runs alongside a brief history of his awakening to the cause, from his student days in the 1970s to his time in the Senate in the 1980s. Mention of his election loss in 2000 election is brief but pointed. References to the current US administration are short but sharp: ‘Is it possible we should prepare for other threats besides terrorists?’ he asks. Good question – and one which would still cut short the ambition of any mainstream American politician. The DVD should have a healthy life in classrooms across the country.