I walked four and a half miles round-trip to see Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.
Please, hold your applause. I’m no hero. I just don’t own a car.
I sat down in front of the gigantic screen in an air conditioned theater with cushioned automatic recliners. One other person sat in the theater, ensuring this would be the most efficient use of all the fossil fuel power it took to play the movie.
Then they walked in.
I know we’re living in tense times in this country, and I hate to be this way, but I prejudged them. There were three of them. In an empty theater, they sat in the same row, two chairs away from me.
I’ve noticed out here, West of the Mississippi, where space is aplenty, personal space is not as valued as it is East of the Mississippi, where there are more humans per square mile. I stopped counting at ten the number of times a guy peed in the urinal right next to me in a line of empty urinals. It’s the kind of thing you get ridiculed for back home. Also I noticed that people tend to drive better in places where drivers are more liberal with the use of their horns. Don’t get me wrong — most people here are polite enough not to invade your personal space, but there are a lot of them here in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I wish I could say my prejudgement was met with contradiction, but it proved correct. They spoke through the whole movie while I was trying to concentrate and take notes. Without any regard to the experience of the other two movie-goers, they would not shut up.
By now you probably know the they I’m speaking of: rich old liberal white ladies.
An Inconvenient Sequel was full of statistics on climate and the renewable energy industry, but you won’t see Al Gore address the national problem of rich old liberal white ladies being unable to put a 100% fair trade organic cotton sock in it during movies about important issues. Not counting the acceptable amount of movie going chatter (like “Excuse me” or “Would you like popcorn?”), not counting clicks of the tongue when figures like Donald Trump or James Inhofe appeared on screen, and not counting gasps when presented with mind blowing scenes of environmental disaster or Justin Trudeau (the exact same gasp), these ROLWLs spoke at a length of five seconds or more no less than thirty five times. I counted:
Honestly I think it was thirty seven, but I forgot to mark down the last two.
Most of the time I didn’t hear what they were yammering about. But I did hear a very clear declaration from one of the ROLWLs. There’s a scene from 2015 where Gore is trying to convince ministers of India to enter the Paris Agreement on climate change. The Indian energy minister was making the legitimate point that his country is finally growing economically, and fossil fuels are the fastest way to lift the country out of extreme poverty. India has watched the United States grow for 150 years because of fossil fuels, and now Al Gore is going to come around and tell India they can’t do the same?
“They should keep burning cow dung,” said a ROLWL, loud and clear. I scribbled “cow dung” on my notebook paper as a reminder that ROLWLs can be racist as hell.
There’s a bigger point I’m trying to make other than my being annoyed by a pack of self-unaware Tipper Gores. It’s that Al Gore is a polarizing figure. Sure, the evidence of climate change is clearly presented to those who don’t have Al Gore tourrettes. But a good portion of the country is just going to react to anything he says with “Bullshit!” and go back to believing the denial propaganda put in place by the fossil fuel industry. They certainly aren’t going to pay $8.58 to see a movie with Al Gore dorking around a flooded Miami in Dad jeans and rubber boots spouting off nonsensical stump lines like “We’re on a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.” Not Revelations, just “Revelation”.
Gore’s haters have more than Exxon-funded propaganda to give them a reason not to listen. Al Gore is set to make millions of dollars in solar energy through his “sustainable capitalism” investment firm, Generation Investment Management. Gore co-founded this firm with a guy named, I’m not kidding, David Blood. Blood and Gore invest in companies like SolarCity, a solar panel manufacturer featured in the movie.
They certainly aren’t going to pay $8.58 to see a movie with Al Gore dorking around a flooded Miami in Dad jeans and rubber boots spouting off nonsensical stump lines like “We’re on a nature hike through the Book of Revelation.”
Typical of Corporate Democrats, Al Gore takes a serious issue and presents it in a way that leaves it wide open for ridicule from the right. On cue, the conservative National Review tore him a new asshole in an article that’s so critical of Gore’s capitalism that it could have appeared in the socialist Jacobin (minus a few nods to climate change denial).
Throughout the film, he never hints that he has a financial interest in the technologies he’s promoting. A firm he co-founded, Generation Investment Management, was a very early investor in Elon Musk’s company SolarCity and held an $80 million stake in it as of 2013, according to the finance site Insider Monkey. Gore portrays SolarCity as a first-rate outfit, both in itself and because the company supposedly pushed the Paris Climate Accord over the top with a bold, philanthropic decision to share its solar-panel technology with India
National Review author Kyle Smith goes on to point out…
As for the strong implication in the film that Gore prompted SolarCity to do a favor for India that got the country on board the Paris agreement, “I am not aware of any such linkage, and neither are my colleagues in the negotiating team,” a top negotiator from India’s delegation told the online newsletter E & E News. The negotiator added that in the 20 months since the agreement, “SolarCity has not come to India.”
Well, SolarCity India does have a Facebook page with 625 likes, a phone number, a Gmail account, and a link to a blank website. And there are a total of two posts from March 2016 in which the nation of India is tagged on SolarCity’s blog. but have nothing to do with SolarCity projects there.
Disingenuousness aside, conservatives should be happy that Gore is in lockstep with a neoliberal, free-market solution to the climate crisis. Gore, while giving platitudes to his liberal followers about getting money out of politics, is just as concerned with keeping politics out of money. Forget a massive government renewable energy infrastructure program, forget making public transportation free and accessible, forget outlawing pipelines, fracking, wastewater injection, Fdorkand mountaintop removal that poison the public… let’s let the Invisible Hand of the Free Market guide us. That way Al Gore can keep getting richer in the process through GIM. Last November he spoke to Standford Graduate School of Business, preaching he and Blood’s sustainable capitalism, an idealistic utopian vision of the world where the environment can remain habitable for human beings while we can still have the greed based economy of wealth accumulation and massive poverty that capitalism provides:
the vision Gore laid out is of a world in which nation-states no longer dictate the pace of change. The sustainability revolution is increasingly driven by local projects closer to the ground and enlightened self-interest in the private sector… Gore, who now chairs Generation Investment Management, says this revolution is “the largest investment opportunity in the history of business,” and he called on MBA students in the audience to take part. “There’s hardly any other walk of life in which you can have a bigger impact than in organizing businesses and allocating capital in ways that build the future.”
The fact that renewable energy will become cheaper and make old white dorks like him richer is the guiding principle of Gore’s optimism, not that people will come together and fight the fossil fuel industry, and insure their governments look out for their interests. Standing Rock is not mentioned in the movie. Nor are any of the worldwide mass movements of indigenous people fighting the fossil fuel industry — have you, reader, ever heard of such a thing? If not, read Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
Sure, it’s encouraging that renewable energy is so cheap that the conservative mayor of Georgetown Texas is running his town on 100% renewables. It’s great that people are signing up to give Al Gore’s slideshow and teach an uneducated population about climate change.
We need mass movements of more than potential SolarCity customers to change anything. The public needs to take over the government so the government will once again be of, by, and for the people. The fossil fuel industry needs to be destroyed, not outsold by Al Gore’s companies. Remaining fossil fuel use needs to be nationalized to a government of the people. Infrastructure needs to be updated, and an energy grid like the internet needs to exist, so we don’t have to rely on large central power plants to dole out the energy like a Soviet government. Each house will generate power to feed into the grid just like each user can create content to feed into the internet. Those who own large solar fields and wind farms will be heavily regulated by the people so they can benefit and not rip off the public.
The fossil fuel industry needs to be destroyed, not outsold by Al Gore’s companies.
A mass movement that fights the fossil fuel industry has begun in Standing Rock, and it involves people from all walks of life.. not just rich Democrats who can’t shut their gluten free pie-holes in a movie theater.
But you should watch Al Gore’s movie, when it’s available for free streaming in the dark dungeons of the internet. When he gets all mad and starts yelling during his lecture, it’s hilarious. I laughed out loud like Beavis and Butthead when I was supposed to be inspired into action to go invest. In that tiny moment, the rich old liberal white ladies fell silent.