Oscars for Gore Film Could Spur Action on Climate
WASHINGTON -- The double Oscar win for "An Inconvenient Truth," former Vice President Al Gore's expanded slide-show on global warming, could spur grassroots support for the fight against climate change, environmental advocates said Monday.
That's because a movie, especially one that many Americans have seen on home video, takes the issue beyond the realm of distant policymakers and puts it on a more personal footing, according to Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club.
"The funny thing about the Oscars is, they're very intimate -- people watch them in their living rooms," Pope said in a telephone interview. "Global warming has seemed abstract, distant, something 'for people who know more than I do.'
"I think what (the Oscar victory) really does is it puts this issue into people's living rooms," he said. "While the climatology is really complicated, they're going to see that the solutions are pretty common-sense, and people will talk about them and get excited."
"An Inconvenient Truth" won two Academy Awards Sunday in Los Angeles: one for best documentary and another for best song. In a related boost for the environmental movement, Gore appeared with actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who announced that this year's televised ceremony had gone "green."
Working with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the telecast's producers arranged for hybrid vehicles for presenters and staff, comprehensive recycling for the event, and the purchase of renewable energy credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions.
Even the Governors' Ball, the big gala after the ceremony, featured organic and environmentally friendly food, including a large chocolate Oscar, the council said on its Web site, http://nrdc.org.
"It's a win for the issue of climate change," said Fred Krupp, executive director of Environmental Defense. "When you get an Oscar, more people are going to go out and see (the film) and that's going to be a help."
Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said if Gore's film manages to raise awareness of the issue with ordinary people, it could have some bearing on policy.
"I can't tell you how many times I was in senators' and congresspeople's offices and was told that they never hear from their constituents on this issue," Claussen said by telephone.
"I think the movie ... and the press about the movie are all making people understand this (issue) and I think legislators will hear from their constituents," she said.
Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2000, got some laughs at the Oscar ceremony by making humorous veiled allusions to a possible White House bid, prompted by DiCaprio. Gore has never categorically ruled out a 2008 run for the presidency but says he is concentrating on his climate change campaign.
In this vein, Claussen noted that the political mood has changed enough in recent years that U.S. governors, most notably California's Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former movie star, accept that acting to cut emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide can help a politician's career.
Schwarzenegger was in Washington Monday along with other governors. He was among five Western governors to announce a regional pact that bypasses the Bush administration to cut greenhouse emissions through market mechanisms.