The summer of 2006 also saw the beginning of a new movie phenomenon - the environmental epic. And while these movies are not playing at every Cineplex in the country, they have wide enough distribution to make them available to those who really want to see them.
Topping the list is Who Killed The Electric Car? and Al Gore's much touted An Inconvenient Truth, a film about the global warming crisis. I have to admit, I had high hopes for this movie.
After burning a half a tank of gas to make the hour-long trek into Toronto to see it, I was disappointed. An Inconvenient Truth is essentially a slick packaging of a keynote address given by Gore who introduces himself as "the man who used to be the next president." The content of Gore's presentation is a disturbing, scientifically accurate and visually stunning account of how rapid climate change is destroying the ecological balance of the planet. So far, so good.
What's disappointing is that between clips of the presentation, viewers are treated to shots of Gore's own personal story, which is largely told from the back seat of a limousine, or from behind the wheel of a Cadillac, or while rushing to meet a jet plane, some of the most energy inefficient ways to travel. Viewers are also taken on a journey to the rolling hills of the Gore farm, where the family made its fortune raising Black Angus beef and growing tobacco, arguably two of the least environmentally responsible crops on the planet. While Gore explains that the family stopped growing tobacco after his sister died of lung cancer, they continue to raise cattle, a major source of methane. Methane is 24 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
If you can get passed the inconvenient truth of Gore's perceived hypocrisy, the film is well worth watching. Unfortunately, An Inconvenient Truth provides Gore's critics in the oil industry a chance to diminish what could have been a brilliant opportunity to shape the broader public opinion.
The good news is that a new generation of films and mini-documentaries is moving like a carefully engineered virus throughout the Internet and available for viewing on a computer screen near you. Even better, you don't have to burn a tank of gas to see them.
While some of these films are amusing parodies, others challenge the very foundation of our beliefs. Still others are thinly veiled attempts by the oil industry and others to discredit the overwhelming scientific evidence that warns, among other things, about the dangers of climate change.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute definitely falls in the latter category. The CEI website offers a series of commercials, including one that bashes Gore's Inconvenient Truth, and promote the life-giving benefits of fossil fuels. Each concludes with the line, "Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution, we call it life." Having seen the commercials, I call them propaganda!
The CEI commercials can be viewed at cei.org
For more on the environmental impact of factory farming, check out two classic parodies The Meatrix and The Meatrix II at meatrix.com
The most disturbing film I've seen on the web is something called Loose Change, 2nd edition. The movie questions the official account of what happened on September 11, 2001, and raises some serious doubts about exactly who was responsible. Visit loosechange911.com. If you have trouble accessing this website, it can also be downloaded from video.google.com
On a lighter note, www.jibjab.com offers a variety of political spoofs to enjoy. My personal favourite is Big Box Mart, a parody of how big box stores are stealing jobs and destroying the environment.
This summer's other environmental feature, Who Killed The Electric Car, was featured on this website on July 8th. Check previous articles.