During Al Gore’s hourlong photo shoot for this issue of Audubon ("Al Gore’s Second Chance”) in Manhattan, he kept up a running dialogue about global warming from the time the first makeup went on till the last shutter closed. At one point, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, whose portraits of presidents and arts celebrities command attention, requested everyone’s silence so his subject could concentrate on looking stately. “I speak with a lot of intelligent people—scientists, photographers, and writers,” says Audubon photo editor Kim Hubbard. “But Al Gore is in a league of his own.”

Al Gore—“the man who was the next president of the United States,” as he likes to call himself these days—appears at peace. And why shouldn’t he be? Lately, he’s been featured on the covers of Vanity Fair, with glitterati George Clooney and Julia Roberts, and Wired, as well as in a glowing New Yorker editorial. The occasion is his new film, An Inconvenient Truth, a full-length documentary that will open this summer and present the cinema’s first serious look at global warming. The film’s considerable wallop comes from how effectively it obliterates what little doubt about global warming remains with chilling and—believe it or not—entertaining visuals that capture the catastrophic consequences of rising temperatures and sea levels. Bidding farewell to Florida and New York as we know them is only a small part of the story.

“Imagine for just a moment that everything I’m saying about this is true—then nothing else matters very much,” Gore told writer Andrew Lawler. “And if [NASA climate scientist] James Hansen is correct that we have less than 10 years before we cross the point of no return, then why would you spend your time on anything else?” For our part, global warming, as an inexorable force of nature, continues to seep into Audubon stories, including those on the future of Utah’s majestic Glen Canyon (“Buried Treasure”) and the Amazon rainforest (“Last Resort”).

Whether you voted for Gore or not, it’s time to take seriously a figure often accused of taking himself too seriously. (Memo to late-night comedians like Jay Leno: The Al-Gore-is-stiff material is as fresh as mother-in-law humor.) I urge every Audubon reader to see An Inconvenient Truth and to take along family and friends. This is the most important movie you’ll ever see, and by buying tickets you are sending a message to our political leaders that you care about the planet’s central issue and want to overcome the bipartisan paralysis that prevents us from dealing with it. For background on the film and to watch the trailer, go to www.audubon.org.


© 2006 National Audubon Society

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