Inconvenient Truth is an Academy
Award-nominated documentary film about climate change,
specifically global warming, directed by Davis Guggenheim and
starring former United States Vice President Al Gore.
The film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and opened
in New York and Los Angeles on May 24, 2006. It is the
third-highest-grossing documentary in the United States to
date. Both Gore and Paramount Classics, the film's
distributor, have pledged proceeds from the film to further
educational campaigns about climate change. The film was
released on DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment on November 21,
An Inconvenient Truth is also the title of a companion book by
Gore, which reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller lists of
July 2 and August 13, 2006, and again during several months
on the list.
A documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth explores
data and predictions regarding climate change, interspersed with
personal events from the life of Al Gore. Through a Keynote
presentation (dubbed "the slide show") that he has presented
worldwide, Gore reviews the
scientific evidence for global warming, discusses the
economics of global warming, and describes the consequences
he believes global climate change will produce if the amount of
greenhouse gases is not significantly reduced in the very
The film includes many segments intended to refute critics
who say that global warming is insignificant or unproven. For
example, Gore discusses the risk of the collapse of a major
ice sheet in
West Antarctica, either of which could raise global sea
levels by approximately 20 feet (6m), flooding coastal areas and
producing 100 million refugees. Meltwater from Greenland,
because of its lower
salinity, could halt the
Gulf Stream current, and it could quickly trigger dramatic local
cooling in Northern Europe.
In an effort to explain the global warming phenomenon, the
film examines annual temperature and CO2 levels for
the past 600,000 years in
ice core samples. An analogy to
Hurricane Katrina is used for those familiar with the 30-ft
to 45-ft (9 to 14m) waves that destroyed almost a million homes
The documentary ends with Gore noting that if appropriate
action is taken soon, the effects of global warming can be
successfully reversed by releasing less
carbon dioxide and growing more plants or trees. Gore calls
upon viewers to learn how they can help in this initiative.
Gore's book of the same title was published concurrently with
the theatrical release of the documentary. The book contains
additional, detailed information, scientific analysis, and
Gore's commentary on the issues presented in the documentary.
Gore first became intrigued by the topic of global warming
when he took a course at
Harvard University with Professor
Roger Revelle, one of the first scientists to measure
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Later, when Gore was in Congress, he initiated the first
congressional hearing on the subject, brought in climate
scientists and began talking to politicians about the issue.
He thought that once legislators heard the compelling evidence,
they would be driven to action; ultimately, though, the process
was a slow one. Gore's 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, dealing with a number of
environmental topics, reached the
New York Times bestseller list.
As Vice President during the
Clinton Administration, Gore pushed for the implementation
carbon tax to modify incentives to reduce fossil fuel
consumption, and thereby decrease emission of greenhouse gases;
it was partially implemented in 1993.
He helped broker the 1997
Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty designed to curb
greenhouse gas emissions. However, it was not ratified in
United States due to opposition in the
Senate. Gore also supported the funding of a satellite
Triana to increase awareness of environmental issues, and
take the first direct measurements of how
much sunlight is reflected from the Earth. During
his 2000 Presidential Campaign, Gore ran, in part, on a
pledge to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
After his defeat in
the 2000 presidential election, Gore returned his focus to
the topic. He edited and adapted a slideshow he had compiled
years earlier, and began featuring the slideshow in multimedia
presentations on global warming across the U.S. and around the
world. At the time of the film, Gore estimated he had shown the
presentation more than one thousand times.
Laurie David and
Lawrence Bender saw Gore's slide show in
New York City after the
The Day After Tomorrow.
Inspired, they met with director
Davis Guggenheim about the possibility of making the slide
show into a movie. Guggenheim, who was skeptical at first, later
saw the presentation for himself, stating that he was "blown
away," and "left after an hour and a half thinking that global
warming [was] the most important issue. . . . I had no idea how
you’d make a film out of it, but I wanted to try," he said.
Gore's basic claim—that global warming is real and largely
human-caused—is supported by current research.
Gore presents specific data that supports the film's thesis,
- The retreat of numerous glaciers is shown in
before-and-after photographs (see
Retreat of glaciers since 1850).
- A study by researchers at the
Physics Institute at the
University of Bern and the
European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctic presenting
data from Antarctic
ice cores showing carbon dioxide concentrations higher
than at any time during the past 650,000 years.
- A 2004 survey by Dr.
Naomi Oreskes of 928 peer-reviewed scientific articles
on global climate change published between 1993 and 2003.
The survey, published as an editorial in the journal Science, claimed that every article either supported
the human-caused global warming consensus or did not comment
Associated Press contacted more than 100 top climate
researchers, and questioned them about the film's veracity.
Because this was at the time before the film's general release
many of those surveyed had neither seen the movie nor read the
book, but all 19 climate scientists who had done so said that
Gore conveyed the science correctly.
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works,
chaired by Sen.
Jim Inhofe, a global warming skeptic, issued a press release
criticizing this article.
Inhofe's statement that "global warming is the greatest hoax
ever perpetrated on the American people" appears in the film.
RealClimate, a group blog maintained by eleven climate
scientists, lauded the film's science as "remarkably up to date,
with reference to some of the very latest research."
Michael Shermer, science historian and founder of
The Skeptics Society, wrote in
Scientific American that An Inconvenient Truth
"shocked me out of my doubting stance".
However, in a
editorial in the Wall Street Journal, climatologist and
global warming skeptic
Richard Lindzen criticized the movie, and questioned its
A response to Lindzen's piece disputes the basis for his claims
as allegedly not supported by currently available data.
Gore discusses the possibility of a sudden rise in sea level
of 20 feet if a major polar ice sheet collapsed. This should not
be confused with the more certain, gradual and moderate rise due
to non-catastrophic ice melting and the thermal expansion of
Third Assessment Summary estimates the latter as between 0.1 to
0.85 meters (0.3 to 2.8 feet) by the year 2100, but notes that
"this range does not allow for uncertainty relating to ice
dynamical changes in the West Antarctic ice sheet."
The Antarctic as a whole contains enough ice to raise sea level
by an estimated 60 m (200 ft) if it were to melt entirely
and the collapse of the grounded interior reservoir of the West
Antarctic ice sheet alone would raise sea level by 5-6 m (16-20
The film opened in
New York City and
Los Angeles on Wednesday,
Memorial Day weekend, it grossed an average of $91,447 per
theater, the highest of any movie that weekend and a record for
a documentary, though it was only playing on four screens at the
At the 2006
Sundance Film Festival, the movie received three
standing ovations. It was also screened at the 2006
Cannes Film Festival, and was the opening night film at the
Durban International Film Festival on
An Inconvenient Truth was the most popular Documentary at
Brisbane International Film Festival.
The film has grossed over $24 million in the U.S. and over
$42 million worldwide as of
making it the third-highest-grossing documentary in the U.S. to
date (after Fahrenheit 9/11 and March of the Penguins).
Al Gore has stated, "Tipper
and I are devoting 100 percent of the profits from the book and
the movie to a new bipartisan educational campaign to further
spread the message about global warming."
Paramount Classics is committing 5% of their domestic
theatrical gross for the film to a new bipartisan climate action
group, Alliance for Climate Protection, dedicated to awareness
and grassroots organizing.
Critical reaction to the film has been positive. It garnered
a "certified fresh" 92% rating at
Rotten Tomatoes (as of
with a 94% rating from the "Cream of the Crop" reviewers. Film
Roger Ebert and
Richard Roeper gave the film "two thumbs up". Ebert wrote:
"In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie
review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this
film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should
explain to them why you decided not to."
- The film has been nominated for two
Best Documentary Feature and
Best Original Song for
Melissa Etheridge's 'I Need To Wake Up'.
- The film received special recognition from the
Humanitas Prize, the first time the organization had
handed out a Special Award in over 10 years.
- 2007 Stanley Kramer Award - The Producers Guild of
America; recognizes “work that dramatically illustrates
provocative social issues.”
- For his wide-reaching efforts to draw the world’s
attention to the dangers of global warming including the
Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore has been nominated for the 2007
Nobel Peace Prize
- National Board of Review
- New York Film Critics Online
- New York Film Critics Society
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association
- Broadcast Film Critics Association
- Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
- Chicago Film Critics Association
- Kansas City Film Critics Awards
- Las Vegas Film Critics Circle
- Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards
- Online Film Critics
- Phoenix Film Critics Circle
- Satellite Awards (Nominated)
- Toronto Film Critics Circle (Nominated)
- Utah Film Critics Awards
- Florida Film Critics
- Washington D.C. Film Critics Association
- St Louis Film Critics Awards
- Ohio Film Critics Awards
- National Society of Film Critics
The documentary has been generally well-received politically
in many parts of the world and is credited for raising further
awareness of global warming internationally, prompting calls for
more government action in regards to the climate. Several
colleges and high schools have begun to use the film in science
curricula although at least one US
school district has put restrictions on its use in the
- President Bush, when asked whether he would watch the
film, responded: "Doubt it." He later stated that "And in my
judgment we need to set aside whether or not greenhouse
gases have been caused by mankind or because of natural
effects and focus on the
technologies that will enable us to live better lives
and at the same time protect the environment."
Gore responded by saying, "The entire global scientific
community has a consensus on the question that human beings
are responsible for global warming, and [Bush] has today
again expressed personal doubt that that is true."
- In September 2006, Gore traveled to
Sydney, Australia to promote the film. Australian Prime
John Howard said he would not meet with Gore or agree to
Kyoto because of the movie: "I don't take policy advice from
films." Former Opposition Leader
Kim Beazley joined Gore for a viewing and other
MPs attended a special screening at
Parliament House earlier in the week.
Australia's federal government currently refuses to ratify
Kyoto Protocol. Since October 2006 the government has
introduced a number of environmental initiatives in response
to public concerns.
- In the
Leader of the Opposition
David Cameron has urged people to see the film in order
to understand climate change.
Margaretha Guidone successfully persuaded the entire
Belgian government to see the film.
Costa Rica, Al Gore met with president
Oscar Arias, and was well received by other politicians
Spain, after a meeting with Gore, primer minister
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said the government will
make An Inconvenient Truth available to schools. Gore
has been nominated for this year's
Prince of Asturias Prize for international cooperation.