Eleven years after Al Gore forecast the disastrous consequences of climate change in his Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” the former vice president says many of his dire projections already have come to pass: Take Hurricane Sandy in New York, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the 2015 Pakistan heat wave, for instance.
“After a while, you recognize these patterns resulting from climate change,” says the longtime environmental activist. “People all over the world are going through this and alerting others to what’s happening. The fact that it is happening everywhere now is one of the ways to raise the alarm, so we can solve it.“
If “An Inconvenient Truth” was about raising awareness of global warming, Gore’s follow-up film “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” out Friday, is about galvanizing audiences to fight the environmental epidemic.
The feature-length documentary, filmed by San Francisco-based husband-and-wife directing team Jon Shenk and Bonni Cohen, follows Gore from the summer of 2015 through the presidential election of 2016, as he surveys extensive devastation caused by climate change — from the melting Greenland Ice Sheet to a flooded Miami — in between speaking engagements and meetings with policymakers about continuing environmental challenges.
“Over several decades, I have become increasingly aware that the beauty of the world is at risk, not to mention people — especially poor people — in every country,” said Gore, recently in town to promote the film. “So when you go into a place like Tacloban, in the Philippines, and talk with survivors of that horrible climate-related event, it’s quite emotional.”
Gore says Californians aren’t immune to the rise of surface temperature, as the state is regularly plagued by droughts and wildfires. Bay Area residents should note that San Mateo and Marin counties have seen a dangerous rise in sea levels and San Francisco, in February, was pounded by wet “microbursts.”
“You’re now getting these rain bombs, these huge downpours that result from the disruption of the historic weather patterns here,” Gore says.
Yet the environmental crusader is heartened by the ever-growing number of U.S. politicians taking leadership on the issue: Gov. Jerry Brown recently extended California’s cap-and-trade program, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is taking his city carbon neutral, and even Georgetown, Texas, Mayor Dale Ross, a Republican, switched his town to 100-percent renewable energy.
That coupled with the rise of alternative energy companies, such as San Mateo-based SolarCity, gives Gore a sunnier outlook on the future.
“These extreme weather events have awakened people,” Gore says, “and the access to the solutions, which are coming down in cost and spreading rapidly, make it attractive to change. The clarity and urgency that Bonni and Jon have put into ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,’ have a real chance to add to the momentum and help solve this.”
IF YOU GO
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Starring Al Gore
Directed by Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk
Running time 1 hour, 38 minutes