RIDER ON THE STORM

Al Gore re­mains one of the world’s most di­vi­sive fig­ures. Rose­mary Neill meets the en­vi­ron­men­tal evan­ge­list as he pre­pares to re­lease his se­cond film

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Profile -

Al Gore is wear­ing a typ­i­cal ex-politi­cian’s ensem­ble: im­mac­u­lately pressed suit, white shirt and tie in a sen­si­ble shade of blue. Look down, how­ever, and you see it — the star­tling break with con­ven­tion: Gore’s calflength Texan cow­boy boots, with in­laid stitch­ing and sculpted tops. Like Barn­aby Joyce’s Akubra, they tele­graph his non-ur­ban roots.

The Aus­tralian’s pho­tog­ra­pher clocks those boots and asks the for­mer US vice-pres­i­dent and No­bel Peace Prize win­ner if he will put his feet on a stool so she can snap him in a re­laxed pose. Be­fore he can an­swer, two min­ders erupt with a sharp “No!’’ It’s OK, it seems, for the world’s best-known cli­mate evan­ge­list to seem ap­proach­able and re­laxed — but not too re­laxed.

Re­view caught up with Gore when he vis­ited Aus­tralia last month to speak at the Ecoc­ity World Sum­mit and spruik his new doc­u­men­tary, An In­con­ve­nient Se­quel: Truth to Power. Di­rected by Jon Shenk and Bonni Cohen, the film is a fly-on-the-wall ac­count of Gore’s en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paign­ing and the fol­low-up to the Os­car-win­ning An In­con­ve­nient Truth — which cen­tred on Gore, played up the per­ils of global warm­ing and proved a light­ning rod for cli­mate change ac­tivists and scep­tics alike.

Gore says he reap­pears, cen­trestage, in An In­con­ve­nient Se­quel be­cause “it was a good time to re­visit where we are and com­mu­ni­cate the very hope­ful mes­sage that … we now have the so­lu­tions to the cli­mate cri­sis, and they’re af­ford­able. … The se­cond thing that’s hap­pened over the last decade is that cli­mate-re­lated weather events are far more nu­mer­ous and far more de­struc­tive.’’ He says 14 of the hottest 15 years have been recorded since 2001, and that 2016 was the hottest year on record.

Re­leased next week, An In­con­ve­nient Se­quel presents Gore as a mes­sianic fig­ure on his globe-strad­dling cli­mate cru­sade. He walks on a glacier in Green­land as ice “ex­plodes’’ from heat, and trades his boots for wellies as he sloshes through Mi­ami streets in­un­dated by high tides. He also vis­its the 2015 Paris cli­mate con­fer­ence and Ge­orge­town, “the red­dest city’’ in Texas, which has switched to 100 per cent re­new­able en­ergy be­cause it is cheaper there than coal-fired elec­tric­ity.

Gore, who lives in Nashville, projects an aura of old-fash­ioned south­ern gra­cious­ness — he thanks me sev­eral times for talk­ing to him, and later asks about my fam­ily back­ground, guess­ing it is Ir­ish. While it’s part of a sea­soned politi­cian’s schtick to show in­ter­est in the ques­tioner, it’s still dis­arm­ing com­ing from a man who al­most won the 2000 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Re­flect­ing the tenor of the new film, he is up­beat about re­new­ables, ar­gu­ing wind, so­lar and bat­tery tech­nol­ogy will be as sig­nif­i­cant as the In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion. “Elec­tric­ity from so­lar and wind in most places is now cheaper than

GORE WAS AC­CUSED OF BE­ING HYS­TER­I­CAL AND EVEN COM­PARED WITH HITLER’S PRO­PA­GANDA CHIEF JOSEPH GOEBBELS

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