Monday, July 03, 2006

some more inconvenient truths

I finally saw An Inconvenient Truth on Saturday night. The parts regarding global warming are extremely compelling and worth watching for that alone. Only about half the movie is about global warming, though. The other half is, roughly, about what a great guy Al Gore is. I mean, I keep ruminating about what the main purpose of the movie was. There are three contenders:
1. Alert the nation to the urgent need to address global warming.
2. Alert the nation to the urgent need to elect Democrats.
3. Alert the nation to the urgent need to elect Al Gore as president, or at least to recognize that his not being elected in 2000 is something about which we should all be sad.
I think what I would have liked is a movie whose purpose is #1 that I could enthusiastically recommend to people I know who lean Republican (granted, being an academic who cavorts mostly with academics, I can't pretend this number is large). My belief, perhaps touchingly naive, is that the facts on the matter are so plain that many people who lean Republican could be convinced that this is an issue that deserves bipartisan cooperation.

But, of course, the facts are so plain that maybe this could become like stem cells and be a wedge issue that you might win swing voters with. For that purpose (#2/#3), it pays to keep the issue polarized and do everything to entrench Republicans in their past positions so that they look more like they are reality-deniers to swing voters. Combining an issue for which Democrats have reality on their side with a campaign informercial probably works well for this purpose, or at least would work well if the informercial aspects of the film were not as transparently manipulative as the ones in this film. I mean, it's in the narrow interest of Democrats-qua-Democrats to keep Republicans opposed to action on global warming, and it's in the interest of the narrow interest of those-freaked-out-by-global-warming-qua-those-freaked-out-by-global-warming to influence the Republican party's stance.

There is a scene about two-thirds through with Al Gore having a cel phone conversation on his cel phone that literally had me laughing because it was so painfully staged to present Al Gore, Man Of Action. In this respect, it reminded me a lot of his campaign, where you got the sense that Gore's efforts to connect with "regular folks" ends up still missing those folks and seeming false to everyone else.

All that said, a couple times during the film I found myself wondering if I was going to cry for all that was lost with the 2000 election. No actual tears formed, much less fell, but it was kinda close.

And again, the film is well worth seeing for the parts that are actually about global warming.


Anonymous said...

Is it just my computer or is your site really all Narrow Left now? Better that than Narrow Right, I guess.

jeremy said...

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

Anonymous said...

RE: Democrats have reality on their side: Reality has never played a very large role in elections, IMO. (For example: "There is a bear in the woods...")

In related news... Wikipedia has a list of political slogans. How great is this?: "We Polked you in '44, We shall Pierce you in '52." If only I had been alive in 1852!

astrid jane said...


It's not just your computer, Jeremy's content is all squinched into the left hand column (the one that he normally reserves for showing off all the books he's read) on mine too. Maybe it's a "Look I've lost so much weight marathoning" even the content on my blog has slimmed down, sorta thing. Or maybe all that white space on the right is for us to add our own one of those progressive, interactive public art installations.

jeremy said...

Okay, now it seems like I completely screwed up the side of my blog. I'm not going to be able to figure it out tonight, or maybe tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Gore came across as a supercilious jerk. Still does. It is hard, though not impossible, to vote for supercilious jerks.

When we graphed the values for daily max and min temperatures for period of record (up to 200 years) for US stations, two things stood out:

1) there is a visible urban heat-island effect beginning in the '20s, but no such effect for exurban stations.
2) The annual noise is about 5F for both min and max temperature data traces. That is, there's no way you can find an 0.1C anthropogenic effect in there. You want to fuss about the genesis of climate change, fuss about sunspots.

"being an academic who cavorts mostly with academics" You must associate with a wholly different cohort of academics. NOTHING that the academics I know do could ever be ennobled by describing it as 'cavorting.' What they do is just so SODDEN, so Gorish; it's obviously been decades since even the tiniest little cavort slipped out of one of them. Better cherish your pards, Jeremy. If you ever take a job at a different university, you'll retrospect sadly about the cavorters and cavortees of Madison.