The truths from 'An Inconvenient Truth,' 11 years later

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Eleven years ago, “An Inconvenient Truth” was simply a compelling PowerPoint presentation warning us of the dangers of climate change. Today its lessons ring with authority — in the aftermath of worldwide catastrophes and rising ocean temperatures — and form the basis for its sequel, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” Illustration by CARINA SANTOS

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — What you know about climate change, you probably know because of Al Gore.

Not long after he failed to win the presidency in the contested U.S. presidential race of 2000, Gore scored something of a consolation prize with “An Inconvenient Truth” — perhaps the only compelling PowerPoint in cinematic history.

The film catapulted the often derided and highly technical issue of climate change into mainstream consciousness — an impressive feat made even more so when it took home two Academy Awards and earned Gore the Nobel Peace Prize.

Eleven years later, the film has recently gotten a re-up with “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk. The documentary, which premiered this month at the Sundance Film Festival, rides the momentum of the last decade. An older but more optimistic Gore now attempts to introduce a critical shift from building awareness to encouraging action, backed by the authority that has come with seeing many of the first film’s predictions play out since its release.

Before the sequel hits cinemas soon, here is a review of the starts and stops of the climate action movement since the first movie debuted in 2006.

AnInconvenientSequel-Lead.jpg At around the time of “An Inconvenient Truth,” scientists weren’t quite ready to point their fingers at the human race for throwing the climate system out of sorts. Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has 95 percent confidence that human influence has been the “dominant cause” of warming for the last half-century. Illustration by CARINA SANTOS

Super typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines

Hurricane Katrina was still the benchmark catastrophe when “An Inconvenient Truth” came out the following year. Barely a decade later, on November 8, 2013, the Philippines was ravaged by the strongest storm in modern history.

Though drawing a direct link between extreme weather and climate change is tricky, the message that typhoon Yolanda left in its wake was clear: it was a real-time broadcast of what developing nations are up against. Despite being among the smallest greenhouse gas emitters, we consistently sit in the highest ranks of the most vulnerable. Climate action had, particularly for the Philippine delegation to COP19 (or the UN Climate Change Conference) later that month, snapped into focus as a moral imperative.

The Paris Agreement was reached

After two decades of negotiations, the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change had talked much while solving little. Tasked with reaching a global consensus about how to best address climate change, with every year they were looking more like an “annual carbon-intensive gathering of useless frequent flyers,” as phrased by Naderev Saño, a climate negotiator who fasted in 2013 to protest the inaction in the conference.

Its watershed moment finally arrived in 2015, when the historic Paris Agreement was reached. The pact sets targets for cutting emissions to keep global temperatures from rising two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the most ambitious global environmental target ever formalized.

The woolly mammoth hasn’t been resurrected — yet

In the fight against climate change, innovation is a major player. Every day, scientists devote themselves to generating ingenious solutions to climate issues, from the practical to the fanciful and outlandish. Making a case for the latter, scientists from various groups are working earnestly to bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction in a bid to slow climate change. Their efforts have so far been both controversial and unsuccessful, but in a world where a glorified slideshow can become an Oscar-winning film, it’s best to never say never.

The predictions are playing out, and humans are categorically to blame

At around the time of “An Inconvenient Truth,” scientists weren’t quite ready to point their fingers at the human race for throwing the climate system out of sorts. Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading authority on climate change assessment, doesn’t mince words: they have 95 percent confidence that human influence has been the “dominant cause” of warming for the last half-century.

As the human hand has become impossible to ignore, so have the shifts in the state of the climate. Gore can concern himself less with predicting than with showing actual occurrences, with evidence not even 10 years old: The world isn’t just warming, it’s beating record after record, with 16 of the hottest years ever recorded having happened in just the last 17 — the fastest the earth’s temperature has risen in millions of years.

It’s not by coincidence that, within about the same timeframe, CO2 levels have leaped above 400 parts per million in the atmosphere — said to be the line that makes it far more difficult to keep global temperatures from rising beyond the already dubious two-degree goal. In addition, Arctic ice has been melting at an unprecedented rate; sea levels are rising, putting coastal communities — including much of the Philippine population — in mounting peril; and oceans are growing more acidic, throwing ecosystems off balance.

Renewable energy is snowballing

The question is no longer whether or not the world will make the shift to clean energy, but how quickly it will happen. Renewables had a landmark year in 2015, producing about 90 percent of the new electricity generated globally. The costs have dropped drastically for solar and wind, and if the trend continues, in just a few years, solar power will be more competitive than fossil fuels. Already, in the Republican-dominated state of Texas, a city announced it would switch to 100 percent renewable energy — not for the environment, but because it was cheaper.

China stepped up

The year “An Inconvenient Truth” debuted was the year China became the world’s largest carbon emitter. But they’ve been working hard at cleaning up their act, aggressively investing in renewables and cutting back on coal. While that doesn’t come close to what we need as far as global emissions are concerned, what a behemoth like China does with its energy sector could send ripples through other nations.

Donald Trump won

It’s difficult to think about “An Inconvenient Truth” without mourning the progress that could’ve been made had Gore been able to shape national policy. That feeling has grown more acute since the 45th president of the United States became a vocal climate science doubter who once blamed the fallacy of climate change on Chinese hoodwinking.

With barely enough time to warm his seat in the oval office, his administration has already whipped the U.S. environmental movement into a frenzy by nominating an Environmental Protection Agency head with close fossil fuel ties, reviving controversial pipeline plans, and subjecting EPA scientists’ work to review so that its voice “reflects the new administration” — to name a few.

To be sure, the climate movement has made important strides in the last decade, with heightened awareness owed in large part to “An Inconvenient Truth.” But with public buy-in comes vested political interest. As Gore said at the sequel’s premiere, “There has never been a more important time to speak truth to power.”