Small realities in the face of Inconvenient Truths

The last time my wife Marion and I went out on a date was back in 1990--before $3.00 gallons of gasoline; before the Prius; before the iPod; before the World Wide Web; before frickin' Harry Potter. We saw the movie Darkman and Marion was so disgusted by the opening scene where the super bad guy, Robert Durant, cuts off a small-time hood’s fingers with a cigar trimmer, she walked out of the packed theater (I got her to come back and there were no more problems; it was a boring movie--very dark, but that's about it). We were just past thirty then and it felt like we had the world by the tail. Nothing was dark to us except movies, novels and closets.

On a scorching Friday night in early August, sixteen years later — Sam, the oldest, off in Maine, Jesse in Florida playing in the national fourteen and under USSSA baseball world series, and the youngest, Conor, at his friend Charlie's for an overnight – we decided it was time to rekindle our pre-child relationship. There was only one movie to see for baby-boomers freed to roam the real world once again: An Inconvenient Truth. We're so happy we went, even if it cost $19.00 to get in, the popcorn line was insanely long (we went without), and we felt lost in the Big Box suburbs of Philadelphia. The man playing Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth is fascinating and disarming, and the movie is important for everyone in this great country of ours to see at least once. I will not ruin your day by doing a review of it. By now you've read and seen enough I'm sure (although it really is important to note that the liberal version of apocalypse is just as weird as the fundamentalist version).

I do, however, want to share a number of ironies and interesting tidbits about An Inconvenient Truth that should at least be amusing, if not downright deep.

First of all, we were dismayed when we got to the theater parking lot to find that the Regal Cinema folks did not have Big Al's movie posted on the giant marquee over the theater. In a flash we were back to our old conspiriologist days. Could Regal somehow be in league with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute? We didn't know, but as practiced curmudgeons and rebellious freedom fighters from the old guard we certainly weren't going to leave blank spaces like that up to chance – nor were we going to take it lying down. Something had to be done! But what? We didn’t know. (Later we figured that they just didn't have enough lettering for every one of their movies since they did indeed post An Inconvenient Truth on the marquee out in front of the theater plaza where all the cars and trucks and SUVs were whizzing by--or sitting in traffic jams).

Secondly, An Inconvenient Truth had been running for something like ten to twelve weeks when we went to see it. You'd think that on a Friday night, love birds that we are, these wayward parents would be the only people in the theater (I was kind of hoping we could make-out during the boring parts). Not so. The room was at least half full, maybe more. I'd say they made about $900 bucks off of us responsible and concerned citizens. That's not bad when just down the hall Talladegha Nights was packing them in on its opening night.

Perhaps An Inconvenient Truth was so well-attended because of the heat waves we experienced there at the end of July and early August. It sucks when your basic feeling towards the outdoors is: "Screw this 21st century summer crap. I'm climbing in the fridge. Let me know when it's over."

In fact, during the first few days of August several respectable media outlets reported that scientists feel there is a definite connection between global warming and the overwhelming heat waves we've had around the world over the past few years. Probably the most disturbing aspect of these studies is the insight that average nighttime temperatures are on the rise. A good resource for some of the new data out there is the NOAA site – especially for skeptics and naysayers. Real information! No bull!

The third irony here is that Gore learned in college that carbon dioxide traps heat in the outer reaches of the earth's atmosphere from his professor at Harvard, Roger Revelle, who had been studying carbon dioxide levels since 1958. I couldn't help thinking about the fact that there were people who knew that global warming was a real possibility while the rest of America was busy going through its hippie phase--stoned, extravagantly loony, frenetically political, overtly dedicated to free love, and rebellious as hell. Imagine if we could have tapped into all that frenzied positive energy back then...

1958 was also the year I was born. In fact, the history of the science of the planetary greenhouse effect goes back more than another 100 years.

But the most ironic experience of the night was that we froze our asses off sitting there staring up and chuckling along with our good buddy Al while he talked about how hot it was getting. The air conditioning in the theater had to be set at 68-degrees – maybe lower. I was wearing long pants for the first time in two months along with a sweater. If Marion hadn't been there to snuggle with, I would have been thrown out because my chattering teeth would have violated the "silence is golden" rule they broadcast before the movie starts. My guess is the Regal spent about $100 on cooling that it didn't need...Later on we went to dinner at the UNO Chicago Bar & Grill and had the same problem. We begged the waitress to put us as far away from the air conditioning vents as possible. My guess is that whatever we paid for our dinner was used to keep everyone else there cucumber cold.

At any rate, if you haven't seen the movie, it's time to go if it’s still playing in your neck of the woods. Take three or more people with you and make sure at least one of them is someone you've been having arguments with about global warming. Sadly, a bit more than four months after open night, An Inconvenient Truth is slowly fading out of theaters. More than likely it will be out as a DVD shortly. And for those moved and touched the most by this onetime President-elect’s carbon concerns, Gore is sponsoring a global education training action to teach us plebes how to give the slide show his movie has made famous. Plans are to train a thousand volunteers before the spring of 2007. The first two-day session (in Tennessee) is already filled up, but there are at least two other sessions scheduled in the fall and early winter. 

In closing, I would like to note the following: There should be no need to argue about whether global warming is real or not once you see this movie (yes, there are technical points that Gore probably needs to revisit, but the main ones are kind of inescapable – unless you don't understand math and science). The question now is whether you are willing to take responsibility for your 15,000 pounds a year of greenhouse gases, or whether you don't give a damn. There really isn't a middle ground. Hopefully, it's the former and not the latter.





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