The Great Warming

2006, Movie, NR, 85 mins


Produced for Canadian television as a three-part documentary, this environmental call to action blows past politically oriented debate about global warming to declare in ringing tones that the Earth is in trouble and that to ignore the problem is to invite harsh judgment by future generations. Narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, it begins with a thumbnail picture of the factors that allowed mankind's race to flourish and spread to every corner of the planet, irrevocably altering — first incrementally, then more rapidly — the very face of the Earth. Various experts estimate that the tipping point came at the end of the 19th century, when the balance of atmospheric carbon, which keeps heat in, began to increase and raise the Earth's temperature — the notorious greenhouse effect. The level of the oceans has begun to rise, polar ice caps have started melting and extreme weather conditions are increasingly prevalent from Peru to Palm Springs. The film relies heavily on talking heads and goofy graphics, and the voice-over narration leans towards strained metaphors: The segment on climactic changes that could imperil the world's food supply includes groaners like Reeves' solemn assertion that "uncertainty is on the menu" and Morissette's allusion to Louisiana's "rich cultural gumbo." But there's hard science under the cliches, and the filmmakers try to look beyond obvious manifestations of trouble — searing droughts, record-breaking tornadoes and hurricanes, soil erosion, flooding of low-lying cities and rural communities — to the more subtle but no less devastating consequences of even small changes in global temperature. They also acknowledge the difficulty of trying to persuade developing nations that they should bypass the energy-squandering luxuries Europe and the United States enjoy or forcing Americans to address their unquestioned reliance on nonrenewable and environmentally unsound fossil fuels without suggesting that just because it's hard doesn't mean there's no point trying. If the film's most controversial assertion is that evangelical Christians, whose apocalyptic faith traditionally discouraged planning for the long-term future and whose conservative politics placed them at loggerheads with left-leaning "tree huggers," may play a significant role in the future of the environmental movement, its most useful point is that not only must something be done, but that there are things that can be done. An impressive parade of scientists, meteorologists and grassroots activists assert that humanity is capable of adapting to a changing climate, building sustainable communities without sacrificing modern-day comforts and even reversing some of the damage already done. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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The Great Warming
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