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Global warming

Al Gore’s crusade

A film by the ex-Vice-President of the United States abuses political marketing in order to convert skeptics to the defense of the environment

NASATemperature increase doubles the speed of melting of Greenland glaciers NASA

The worries over global climatic changes and especially those related to the planet’s warming seemed to have hit, over the last few weeks, a resonance only comparable to that of major events linked to these themes, when one considers the reflections harvested by the media. Would it be possible to attribute such visibility to the international meeting about climate change scheduled for the end of November in Nairobi, Kenya, when Brazil should propose the creation of a global fund to compensate the poor countries that lower their deforestation in the tropical forests and, in this manner, contribute to a reduction in the greenhouse effect? Indeed, the proposal has already the support of the World Bank (IBRD), which in a report given out on the 23rd of October of this year, pointed to the carbon resulting from the control of deforestation as a major “unexplored opportunity” for the planet to simultaneously reduce poverty, conserve the biodiversity and help to resolve the question of climate.

Nevertheless, everything still points that although Nairobi can still exercise some influence, the first responsible for the redoubled attention of the means of communication to the serious question of the environment was Albert Gore Jr., or simply Al Gore, one of the most shining politicians in the Democratic party and tipped for many years, as he himself says with a little bit of irony, as the future president of the United States. During a noisy passage through São Paulo, on the 17th of October, Al Gore carried with him the emblematic sash of his book and film of the same name, An Inconvenient Truth, which has been producing heated discussions in the world outside in his effort to make audiences aware of and against global warming.

In an environment set out by the American ex-Vice President even before he dropped anchor here, the weekly magazine Época, for example, literally decorated itself in green for its 16th of October edition and recommended to its readers, on its front cover, a little strange for this color “Think green: what can you do to save the planet?” In a special report about the issue, it offered three pages to an article signed by Al Gore himself, with the same title as the book. The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, in an interview with the science editor, Cláudio Angelo, on the 18th of October, allowed a certain amount of Al Gore optimism to overflow, relative to the conviction that his country will finally change its climate policy. And even tore apart eulogies about the documentary in which he stars.

It is true that there was also more than enough space for the return of the media craze for extremely alarmist voices in the debate about the planet’s future, such as the Englishman James Lovelock, 87 years of age. From the yellow pages of the magazine Veja, in the 25th of October edition, Lovelock, the controversial author of The Revenge of Gaia – which in the past offered effective contributions for prohibition in the use, in most of the world, of the pesticide DDT and the CFCs, used in aerosols and domestic appliances such as refrigerators -, announced once again the total irreversibility of the on-course global warming and prophesied, without a shadow of bashfulness for the lack of scientific evidence for his statements, the probable disappearance of 80% of humanity by the year 2100.

During his São Paulo tour Al Gore participated in an event at the American Chamber of Commerce, was one of the stars at an award winning event for Brazilian companies that had distinguished themselves between 2005 and 2006 for their actions in the protection of the environment and, principally, guaranteed strong promotion for his book and film, programmed to going into popularity starting from the 3rd of November.

There was little doubt that the film deals with great technical competence the issues already regarded , almost consensually, as essential for a world effort towards the preservation of the planet Earth over the next few centuries, with environmental characteristics close to those that exist today. They would secure the survival of a considerable part of the planet’s biodiversity, and of the human species in particular, within reasonable conditions. The film also manages to explain with clarity why the planet’s warming has been happening, and thorny questions such as the climatic records over the last 650,000 years of the Earth, obtained starting from a painstaking examination of the testimony of the Antarctic ice.

“Technically the film is marvelous, with its Steven Spielberg effects. It explains very well the greenhouse effect and the global consequences of warming. All of the historical part is scientifically very good”, commented the secretary for the Environment of the State of São Paulo, José Goldemberg, who on Wednesday the 18th of October attended the film’s preview. “The problem is that, when dealing with the present and the future, facts are mixed up with hypotheses, and herein lies an alarmist, cataclysmic tone”, he adds.

Another problem is the disagreeable shrillness of marketing that cuts through the entire film. And this tone would only be adequate, almost perfect, if the film was to be seen as the central part for a new campaign by Al Gore for the Presidency of the United States, an intention that he, up until this point, emphatically denies. Outside of this, all of the language suffers from excessive propaganda in an elaborate documentary, in principle, to bring to their senses millions of people, throughout the world, to the fight for protecting the environment. The heavy doctrinal tone, in spite of some fine moments of irony, the melodramatic explanation of the political-moral reasons that drew the politician Al Gore to this crusade in favor of the environment, will find it difficult to bring people to their senses or to create empathy in relation to the ails of the planet in which there is no previous concern with the problems of global warming. It is clear that things are different if the film”s intention, in which very often one does not know if the central figure is Al Gore or global climate changes, is to reach the American audience for political-electoral reasons.

Anyhow, during the course of the month of November one will be able to have a better idea of how the film is received by the Brazilian public.