I watched Davis Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth for the fourth time last night, and I have to say, it stands the test of time fairly well. Who knew that a few university lectures and a couple of clips of Al Gore pondering his laptop could be so engaging?
But there is one scene in the film that catches me up every time. It’s that moment when Al Gore references a slide from a study looking at the economic cost of environmentalism. It features a scientist looking thoughtfully at a scale that balances the world against a pile of gold bars.
Says Gore: “We have here a scale that balances two different things. On one side, we have gold bars! Mmm… Don’t they look good? I’d just like to have some of those gold bars. Mmm… On the other side of the scales… The entire planet. Hmm…”
Gore makes a joke of it, and fair enough. Inherent stupidity deserves to be mocked. But there is something far more ominous in that slide I can never get past.
What gets me is that the globe is rotated to show Africa and Western Europe in prominence. What that slide actually says is: ‘You can make real money – or you can worry about those goddamn African babies who always seem to be starving; or those weak-kneed, European Liberal pussies who try to control everything.’
I’m not an overly sensitive person, but the inherent racism in that slide just blows me away. (Why wasn’t the world rotated to show America, for example, the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels? Ah, don’t introduce patriotism into the equation. People might actually try to save the planet if their ass is on the line too.)
Al Gore isn’t a stupid person by a long shot, so I’m always left to wonder if he didn’t notice the slide, or decided to let it slip past, leaving it to the audience to read into it what they will.
It caught me up again last night, and I have to admit that I find it a little annoying. I get so caught up in what Gore is thinking, I stop watching the film for a few minutes.