The truth can be inconvenient, particularly when it challenges the politics, economics and societal functions of our daily lives. But for Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States, the truth – one that places humankind in the midst of the worst climate crisis in recorded history – is also devastatingly undeniable.
During Advertising Week Europe, Gore sat down with Empire Editor-in-Chief Terri White to discuss his latest film, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” the highly anticipated follow-up to his two-time Academy Award-winning documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Though both films focus on the increasingly alarming reality of our warming planet, Gore said the second film resonates with a greater sense of optimism, something that’s reflective of the progress that’s been made in the time since the first film became a heralded success.
“We are now seeing a sustainability revolution in the world that has the magnitude of the industrial revolution but with the speed of the digital and information revolution,” Gore said. “This is a powerful trend. The demand for energy around the world is declining because of this sustainability revolution. Yes, the challenge is extremely serious, but the solutions are widely available.”
According to Gore, in the US last year, almost 75 percent of all new electricity generation capacity came from solar and wind power. Globally, 90 percent of energy came from renewable sources, something Gore says puts the world on the cusp of “historic change.”
“This collision between the power of industrial civilization and the surprising fragility of the Earth’s ecosystem poses a great danger that could threaten human kind itself,” Gore stressed. “But we’re going to win this, there’s no question about that. The will to change is itself a renewable resource.”
Still, the need for documentaries like “An Inconvenient Sequel” tell us we have a long way to go. In a rattling of statistics – such that the global population has more than quadrupled in the last 100 years and on a daily basis, humans emit 110 million tons of man-made, heat-trapping pollution into the atmosphere – Gore emphasized the power of the creative and business communities have when they throw their hat in the ring with politicians and policy makers.
“Documentary film is one of the few media forms that still breaks through the general public with a thought-through message, vetted facts and entertainment value in a way that can connect with an audience and deliver a message, provoke a new way of thinking, or stimulate a desire to become personally involved,” Gore said.
Asked what concerns he had given the positioning of Donald Trump’s administration on issues involving the environment and climate change, Gore said his several decades of experience give him reason to be hopeful.
“It’s not the first time there have been setbacks and challenges to overcome. So I look at it as another obstacle to surmount. We have [in the US] checks and balances, and Congress may not go along with what he’s recommending,” Gore said. “The success of this movement is going to depend on the people.”
What’s at stake today is the future, but not necessarily the future for those of us living on the planet today, according to Gore. The real challenge will be in deciding how we want to leave the planet for our future generations to inherit.
“Imagine if instead they could live in a world with hope and a sense of renewal. I want them to look back and ask us, ‘how did you find the moral courage to rise up and say let’s change, let’s do the right thing,’” Gore said.
Quoting famed economist Rudi Dornbusch, who said that while things “take much longer than you think they will, they happen much faster than you thought they could,” Gore said he hopes the second film will continue pushing progress in the right direction.
“Anyone who gets involved trying to solve the climate crisis does have a personal struggle between hope and despair,” Gore said. “When you come face to face with the experiences of the victims of climate related events, of course it’s an emotional challenge, but seeing their resilience to overcome is also incredibly elevating.”