Flames from the Left, Flames from the Right

June 07, 2006
A thought by James Berardinelli

I knew when I wrote the review for An Inconvenient Truth that there would be rough waves ahead. I don't enjoy reviewing movies with a political slant because of the volume of negative e-mail those reviews generate. (Actually, it's not the negativity I mind, but the profanity-laced tirades, although some of those can be amusing.) In fact, I debated long and hard before electing to write a review of An Inconvenient Truth.

Here are two major points I want to make:

  • I believe global warming is a serious issue and it should not be relegated to a "back burner" topic. I think there is enough scientific data to support the conclusion that man is impacting global warming.
  • I believe that Al Gore is one of the worst possible spokespeople this film could have used.

    The conservatives in my reading audience attack me because of point #1. They remind me that global warming is a theory. This is true, but they apparently don't undestand the meaning of the word "theory" as it is applied in science. ("A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.") The preponderance of scientific evidence argues in favor of global warming and hummanity's complicity in it. Most of the anti-global warming points are propeganda-based or rely on carefully selected statistics. (Lies, damn lies, and statistics!) I will admit that, fatalist that I am, I'm not as convinced as some in the pro-global warming camp that we can do anything about the situation, although that doesn't mean it's pointless to try. It may be that the price of industrialization and advanced technology is global warming. Besides, I happen to believe that the population explosion on this planet is a much bigger problem. Considering the rate of population growth and the impact it has on Earth's resources, global warming may be a moot point.

    The liberals attack because of point #2. How dare I belittle poor Al Gore? I like Gore, supported him in 2000, and I believe he is sincere. He has spent more than half of his life studying global warning so, if there are political benefits to be had as the result of the release of An Inconvenient Truth, those are a secondary concern. However, because of his political baggage, Gore is a liability as a standard-bearer. He is divisive. I know the project is Gore's baby but, for the sake of getting the message out, why not step aside and let someone non-controversial (like Tom Brokaw, for example) be "the face" in the movie? By making An Inconvenient Truth in the way it has been made, it becomes a meditation on Al Gore's life and the issue that has obsessed him for three decades. It is not a call to arms against global warming. Unfortunately, that's what its director and most strident boosters mistakenly believe it is. An issue that should be examined under the cold light of logic and science has been politicized.

    Now a word about the tone of negative e-mails. For whatever reason, over the years, I have found that e-mails from conservatives tend to be more reasonable and respectful than disagreeing e-mails from liberals. This is a generalization, and there are exceptions, but the most hate-filled rants tend to come from liberals. Conservatives get just as angry at me, but they are more often not as vulgar and spiteful. Rarely have I received more vicious e-mails than those fired in my direction after a postive review of The Passion of the Christ and my thumbs-down to Fahrenheit 9/11. (I find this particularly odd because, politically, I lean more to the left than the right.) I'm not sure why this is the case (although I could make some guesses), but I thought it was an interesting observation. (Apologies to liberals who have sent me calm, literate e-mails and conservatives who have spewed bile in my direction. It is not my intention to misrepresent you here.)