Documentaries

The most influential full-length movie on global warming to date is the documentary An Inconvenient Truth (2006), featuring former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. Building momentum through word-of-mouth and low-scale advertising, it was one of the year's most successful films — an unheard-of feat for a documentary. The buzz grew even louder when the film walked away with the Academy Award for best feature-length documentary.

An Inconvenient Truth is based on Gore's lecture presentations that highlight big, catastrophic events that global warming may cause. Called a true horror film by some for the impact it has on viewers, it makes the scale of the problem clear to audiences — that the situation is way beyond such easy fixes as switching light bulbs. However, it does outline what individuals can do, and it definitely motivated many viewers. The movie essentially changed global thinking, moving climate change to the forefront of many people's minds. To follow it up, thousands of "mini-Gores" are being trained to give the same presentation across the United States. Gore himself, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his climate change work.

Another strong documentary is Too Hot Not to Handle (2006). The program covers the effects of global warming on the United States. It was originally aired on the U.S. television channel HBO and, like An Inconvenient Truth, is now available on DVD.

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The Great Global Warming Swindle, screened in 2007 in the U.K., presents a far more contentious view of global warming, arguing that civilization's impact on climate change has been overstated. Martin Durkin, the documentarian, claims that natural trends, such as solar cycles, cause global warming. (We talk about solar cycles' contribution to global warming in

Chapter 3.) Many critics note, however, that scientific research has confirmed the impact of human activity on global warming with greater certainty than the film acknowledges. In fact, recent research determined that the sun's activity has actually been decreasing since 1985, making it all but impossible that solar cycles are causing the planet's warming. Chapter 21 dispels some of the myths that this film presents.

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