An Inconvenient Truth 

An Inconvenient Truth
Directed by Davis Guggenheim
Produced by Lawrence Bender
Scott Burns
Laurie David
Starring Al Gore
Music by Michael Brook
Editing by Jay Lash Cassidy
Dan Swietlik
Distributed by Paramount Classics
Release date(s) May 24, 2006
Running time 94 min.
Country USA
Language English
Official website
All Movie Guide profile

An 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.

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[1] and August 13, 2006, and again during several months on the list.[2] 

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.[3] 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, 2006.


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 politics and economics of global warming, and describes the consequences he believes global climate change will produce if the amount of human-generated greenhouse gases is not significantly reduced in the very near future.

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 Greenland or 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 Antarctic 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 in coastal Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida.

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.[4] 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.[5] 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 of a 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 the United States due to opposition in the Senate. Gore also supported the funding of a satellite called 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.

Producers Laurie David and Lawrence Bender saw Gore's slide show in New York City after the 2004 premiere of The Day After Tomorrow.[6] 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.[7]


Scientific basis

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, including:

  • 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.[8]
  • 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 on it.[9]

The 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.[10] The 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.[11] 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."[12]

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".[13]

However, in a June 26, 2006 editorial in the Wall Street Journal, climatologist and global warming skeptic Richard Lindzen criticized the movie, and questioned its claims.[14] A response to Lindzen's piece disputes the basis for his claims as allegedly not supported by currently available data.[15]

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 water. The IPCC's 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."[16] 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[17] 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 ft).[18]


Box office

The film opened in New York City and Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 24, 2006. On 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 time.[19]

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 27th Durban International Film Festival on June 14, 2006. An Inconvenient Truth was the most popular Documentary at the 2006 Brisbane International Film Festival.[20]

The film has grossed over $24 million in the U.S. and over $42 million worldwide as of January 31, 2007, making it the third-highest-grossing documentary in the U.S. to date (after Fahrenheit 9/11 and March of the Penguins).[21]

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."[22] 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.[23]


Critical reaction to the film has been positive. It garnered a "certified fresh" 92% rating at Rotten Tomatoes (as of September 2, 2006), with a 94% rating from the "Cream of the Crop" reviewers. Film critics 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."[24]


  • The film has been nominated for two Academy Awards; 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. [26]
  • 2007 Stanley Kramer Award - The Producers Guild of America; recognizes “work that dramatically illustrates provocative social issues.”[27]
  • 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[28]

Best Documentary:[29]

  • National Board of Review[30] - December 6, 2006
  • New York Film Critics Online[31] - December 10, 2006
  • New York Film Critics Society
  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association[32] - December 10, 2006
  • Broadcast Film Critics Association[33] - December 12, 2006
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association[34][35] - December 18, 2006
  • Chicago Film Critics Association[36] - December 28, 2006
  • Kansas City Film Critics Awards 2006
  • Las Vegas Film Critics Circle 2006
  • Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards 2006
  • Online Film Critics 2006
  • Phoenix Film Critics Circle 2006
  • Satellite Awards (Nominated) 2006
  • Toronto Film Critics Circle (Nominated) 2006
  • Utah Film Critics Awards 2006
  • Florida Film Critics 2006
  • Washington D.C. Film Critics Association 2006
  • St Louis Film Critics Awards 2006
  • Ohio Film Critics Awards 2006

Best Non-Fiction:

  • National Society of Film Critics[37] - January 6, 2007

Political response

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 classroom.


  • 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."[38] 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."[39]
  • In September 2006, Gore traveled to Sydney, Australia to promote the film. Australian Prime Minister, 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.[40] Australia's federal government currently refuses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Since October 2006 the government has introduced a number of environmental initiatives in response to public concerns.[41]
  • In the United Kingdom, Conservative Leader of the Opposition David Cameron has urged people to see the film in order to understand climate change.[42]
  • In Belgium, Margaretha Guidone successfully persuaded the entire Belgian government to see the film.[43]
  • In Costa Rica, Al Gore met with president Oscar Arias, and was well received by other politicians and media.
  • In 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.[44]


  1. ^ New York Times lists book as #1 Paperback Nonfiction, 02-Jul-2006, [1]
  2. ^ New York Times lists book as #1 Paperback Nonfiction, 13-Aug-2006, [2]
  3. ^ Documentary 1982-Present (film rankings by lifetime gross). Box Office Mojo.
  4. ^ Voynar, Kim. "Sundance: An Inconvenient Truth Q & A - Al Gore on fire! No, really." "Cinematical." January 26, 2006. [3]
  5. ^ Remnick, David. "The Talk of the Town." New Yorker." April 14, 2006.[4]
  6. ^ Booth, William. "Al Gore, Sundance's Leading Man." "Washington Post." January 26, 2006. [5]
  7. ^ Alex Steffen (May 4, 2006). Interview: David Guggenheim and An Inconvenient Truth.
  8. ^ Atmospheric Methane and Nitrous Oxide of the Late Pleistocene from Antarctic Ice Cores Science, 2005-11-25, accessed 2007-01-10
  9. ^ Naomi Oreskes, BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Science, 2004-12-03, accessed 2007-01-10
  10. ^ "Scientists OK Gore's Movie for Accuracy", Washington Post, June 27, 2006.
  11. ^ AP INCORRECTLY CLAIMS SCIENTISTS PRAISE GORE’S MOVIE. U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works (June 27, 2006).
  12. ^ Al Gore’s movie. RealClimate (May 10, 2006).
  13. ^ The Flipping Point: How the evidence for anthropogenic global warming has converged to cause this environmental skeptic to make a cognitive flip. Scientific American (June 2006).
  14. ^ Richard S. Lindzen There Is No 'Consensus' On Global Warming Wall Street Journal, accessed 2007-01-10
  15. ^ David Lawrence, Lindzen needs a reality check on climate change, Notes from the Abyss, 2006-06-26, accessed 2007-10-01
  16. ^ IPCC's Third Assessment Summary See the chart on page 14 and the accompanying text.
  17. ^ [ Climate Change 2001: Working Group I: The Scientific Basis] accessed 2007-01-10
  18. ^ Michael Studinger, Geological Influence on the Onset of Fast Moving Ice accessed 2007-01-10
  19. ^ 'Last Stand' delivers IMDb, 2006-05-30, accessed 2007-01-10
  20. ^ BIFF EXCEEDS ALL EXPECTATIONS (Adobe Reader format) accessed 2007-01-10
  21. ^ Documentary Movies Box Office Mojo, accessed 2007-01-31
  22. ^ Housewife addresses climate conference Flanders News, dated 2006-11-16, accessed 2007-01-10
  23. ^ Governing Council The Alliance for Climate Protection, accessed 2007-01-10
  24. ^ Roger Ebert An Inconvenient Truth Chicago Sunday Times, accessed 2007-01-10
  25. ^ Ronald Bailey Gore as climate exaggerator Reason, dated 2006-06-16, accessed 2007-01-10
  26. ^ 2006 HUMANITAS Prize Winners. the HUMANITAS prize (2006-06-28). Retrieved on 16 January 2007.
  27. ^ Stanley Kramer Award: An Inconvenient Truth. (2007-01-18). Retrieved on 18 January 2007.
  28. ^ 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Nominations. MSNBC (2006-02-02). Retrieved on 2 February 2007.
  29. ^ An Inconvenient Truth - Awards and Nominations Yahoo, accessed February 10, 2007
  30. ^ NBR page on An Inconvenient Truth. National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.
  31. ^ New York Film Critics Online. Movie City News (December 10, 2006).
  32. ^ [6]
  33. ^ [7]
  34. ^ [8]
  35. ^ [9]
  36. ^ [10]
  37. ^ [11]
  38. ^ [12]
  39. ^ [13]
  40. ^ [14]
  41. ^ [15]
  42. ^ Full text of David Cameron's speech to the Conservative Party conference, Guardian Unlimited, 4 October 2006, accessed 25 November 2006
  43. ^ [16]
  44. ^ Gore climate documentary to be shown in schools, Expatica, 7 February 2007, accessed 11 February 2007
  45. ^ Richard Black. "Humans blamed for Climate Change", BBC News, February 02, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-2-02.
  46. ^ Laurie David. "Science a la Joe Camel", The Washington Post, November 26, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-11-26.
  47. ^ Gerald Wheeler. "NSTA Statement on November 26 Washington Post Op-ed "Science à la Joe Camel"", NTSA, November 28, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-1-09.
  48. ^ Robert McClure & Lisa Stiffler. "Federal Way schools restrict Gore film", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 11, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-1-11.
  49. ^ KNDO. "School Delays Viewing of Global Warming Documentary", KNDO, January 24, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-1-24.
  50. ^ David Leask. "All secondary schools to see Gore climate film", The Herald, January 17, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-1-26.
  51. ^ [17]
  52. ^ [18]
  53. ^ "Gore promotes his 'ultimate action movie'", Chicago Sun-Times, May 5, 2006.
  54. ^ The Convenientest Truth.
  55. ^ A Terrifying Message from Al Gore. YouTube.
  56. ^ Scientist to CEI: You Used My Research To "Confuse and Mislead". (May 26, 2006).
  57. ^ Up is Down. onegoodmove (June 15, 2006).
  58. ^ Moira MacDonald. "The baffling new math", Toronto Sun, February 5, 2007.

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