PowerPoint on Steroids,
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This review is from: An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About it (Paperback)I have no quarrel with Gore's central premise that anthropogenic climate change is no longer an esoteric curiosity but a planetary emergency requiring an immediate response by all the nations of the world. However, I do have a few gripes about his treatment of the subject.
An Inconvenient Truth is not so much a book as a PowerPoint presentation on steroids. There can be little argument that the photographs are lavish and the pages glossy; but the book consists mostly of a tidal wave of assertions punctuated by personal anecdote leading, in my view, to two significant problems:
1. Superficiality - Although the science broadly supports Gore's arguments and assertions, his declarations make little or no reference to original scientific discoveries, papers or empirical evidence and the result is little more than an argument from authority. This is a shame, because Gore misses the opportunity to engage the layman in a more detailed exploration of the climate change issue by directing interested readers to reputable (and accessible) science.
2. Presentation - superficiality coupled with luxurious presentation results in a product that is a triumph of style over substance: notwithstanding the publication's FSC accreditation, it does not appear to have been printed on recycled paper, despite the fact that Gore himself points out the reduction in energy consumption of using recycled paper (p.315)! Moreover, the glossy, magazine style of the page production has resulted in a weighty tome of over 880g making it heavy, unwieldy and almost impossible to read in low light (for my poor old eyes anyway). On a less substantive but undoubtedly related note, I found myself increasingly irritated with the gratuitous use of different font sizes and colours.
Nonetheless, on reflection, I find myself compelled to recommend this book as an introduction to climate change. Many people adopt a pragmatic approach to science: where it is complicated or abstruse most non-scientists are prepared to accept assertions based on the scale of scientific consensus and the balance of evidence. Adopting such an attitude allows this book to introduce readers to the scale of the climate change problem without overburdening them with a raft of technical detail. This is something that Gore (as a politician) does extremely well: reducing difficult issues to simple sound bites can make complex subjects accessible and engage society in the wider debate about environmental issues.
Al Gore is obviously a passionate champion of the environment and has done much through publication of this book (and the resultant film) to raise awareness of climate change. It is worth your time if you want a gentle introduction to the subject of global warming: however, if you want something a bit more substantive, try The Rough Guide to Climate Change by Robert Henson.