At a glance, last weekend’s box office charts might not suggest there is much hope for humanity.
Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel, the follow to An Inconvenient Truth, was shown on 180 screens in America, making less than $1 million in ticket sales. The Emoji Movie, on more than 4,000 screens, took in $12 million.
Despite some sniping at Gore’s draw, Variety described it as an entirely respectable result for a documentary.
But, in a perfectly rational world, the numbers might be flipped. And if, several centuries from now, aliens are digging through the remains of a scorched and devastated Earth, they might find great meaning in those figures: on the brink of disaster, humanity was more interested in laughing at the poop emoji, voiced by Sir Patrick Stewart.
It might also be noted that much has made been of a climate report authored by scientists with the American government, not so much because of what the report said, but because of fears that Donald Trump’s administration might try to bury it.
In truth, significant progress has been made in the decade since Gore’s first film: on public policy, clean energy and international co-operation. In Canada, there is finally something like a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“I’m convinced we’re going to win this, and I’m filled with hope about it,” Gore told CBC News recently.
But while momentum is said to be unstoppable, the future of the planet is not nearly assured.
For that matter, even the future of Canadian climate policy feels something less than settled.
In fairness to the former U.S. vice-president, movie ticket sales might not be the best measure of his impact.
Research published in 2012 suggested An Inconvenient Truth, released in 2006, significantly, if momentarily, boosted public concern in the United States about climate change. not because everyone saw it, but because of the media coverage the film generated.
There is evidence Canadian concern about climate also rose in the wake of An Inconvenient Truth, but then similarly receded.
An Ekos survey in 2008 found 70 per cent of respondents identified the environment as a high priority, the highest percentage recorded by Ekos over years of asking.
When Ekos asked again in 2015, only 58 per cent considered the environment a high priority. The recession that hit in 2008 might have made climate…