U.S.A. Popcorn Adventure #4
April 10, 2007
Happy Birthday, Earth!
An Inconvenient Truth + How Your Kids Can Help on Earth Day
When you know something is right, but no one is listening, what do you do? Al Gore knew that the build up of greenhouse gases was threatening the livelihood of our planet, and didn’t stop talking about it until he won an Oscar for his climate change documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Actually, Gore’s still talking about global warming but now everyone else is talking about it, too. Whatever your politics, the film leaves little doubt that global warming is a real threat. In fact, Gore poses the problem as a moral issue: how can we, as citizens, let this happen to us? While the message of the film is daunting, our kids looked at the images of melting ice caps and were able to grasp the sad truth about the polar bears’ diminishing habitat. They were ultimately inspired by the film's final message that everyone, no matter their age, can take action.
Our kids wanted to know how they could help take care of our planet. After changing a few light bulbs and promising to eat more local produce, they were ready to get their hands dirty. No problem -- Heal the Bay, a local watchdog organization committed to keeping the ocean clean, has declared April Earth Month, and are organizing several family events, including a two-day celebration at the Santa Monica Beach Aquarium (April 21-22). In past years, our kids have loved grabbing trash bags, donning rubber gloves and searching for trash up and down the beach. Be warned: you will find everything from cigarette butts to beer bottles! The kids got over the gross out factor very quickly after we reminded them that every soda can they picked up made the ocean safer for fish who choke on litter. And if those polar bears, who are losing their habitat, have no fish to eat? The kids went home and wrote letters in support of the bill seeking to make those bears an Endangered Species. We hope Al Gore would be proud at our new generation of environmental activists.
Film Title: An Inconvenient Truth
Directed By: Davis Guggenheim
2006, Rated PG, 100 minutes
Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this film:
- Why This Film is Worth It: The film makes a highly convincing case for climate change, and has played a critical role in turning the national consciousness green -- for this reason, we think it's an important film for families to watch together. Gore is charming and his graphics are very simple to comprehend. Kids will particularly enjoy a cartoon explanation for global warming early on in the film. In the end crawl, the filmmakers urge citizens to take action, and list their website.
- Younger Viewers will get the same environmental message by watching Ice Age: The Meltdown. Click here to read what we wrote a year ago, full of great ideas kids to help kids get green their daily lives.
- Red Flags: Knowing how hard the almost-Prez elect stumped for climate change impressed our kids, even though they were a bit scared by the film's dire message. The film is basically a bulked out version of Gore's Power Point presentation with charts and scientific expositions, but is rated PG for it's occasional troubling images of human and natural devastation.
- How to watch it: If kids watch just the first half hour of the film, they'll get Gore's message, replete with a Simpsons-like cartoon and graphic footage of the disappearing glaciers. The second half hour of the film deepens the argument, discussing the rise of atmospheric and ocean temperatures over the past several years and goes into Hurricane Katrina and Darfur -- these images are more intense. An animated bit about a polar bear trying to find a place to live doesn't appear until about an hour into the film; it lasts for under a minute, but is memorable. Then, Gore has some amazing charts demonstrating how cities like Beijing and San Francisco and countries like the Netherlands would be ruined if melting ice caps cause a rise in ocean levels. The film also tracks Gore's own personal story, including a terrible car accident that nearly took the life of his six year-old son.
Our tips for talking with your kids about this film:
- Environmental Savvy: Ask your kids whether they think it's safe to swim off Southern California beaches and to eat fish caught in the water. (It's usually safe to swim, but never after a storm. It can be safe to eat local migratory seafood). Click here for more details on the ocean's health, like beach report cards for your local surf spot and a list of fish that are safe to eat.
- Political Savvy: Early in the film, Gore says "I'm Al Gore. I used to be the next President of the United States". Ask your kids what it says about our government that it takes a former presidential candidate to bring such critical information to the attention of the public?
- Scientific Savvy: Gore tells a story about a kid in his grade school was chastised for wondering whether the continents of Africa and the Americas ever fit together. Now we know they do but when Gore was young, scientists were sure that the continents had always stayed in one place. It's great for kids to realize that science is always evolving.
- Stick-to-it Savvy: Gore talks about one of his teachers whose research in global warming was groundbreaking. When he got into the Senate, Gore invited this teacher to speak to the Congress and has stayed on this message ever since.
Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.
Want to see more films about the environment? Click here
to visit the Kids Off the Couch store at Amazon.com.
Want to read more about the environment? Click here
to visit the Kids Off the Couch store at Amazon.com.