How has the world changed since 'An Inconvenient Truth' premiered?

In the past decade, a lot has changed in our fight against climate change.

In a recent Q&A with Sen. Bernie Sanders published in The Guardian, former Vice President Al Gore pinpointed "two big things" that have changed since his groundbreaking documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" hit theaters in 2006.

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The New York Times.


One is rather promising. The other? Not so much.

1. First, the bad news: There's been a jaw-dropping increase in extreme weather that was considered relatively rare in 2006.

"The climate-related extreme weather events are way more common now, and way more destructive," Gore told Sanders. "Here in the U.S., in the last seven years, we’ve had 11 so-called 'once-in-a-1,000 year' downpours."

"1,000-year" is an official term used by organizations like the NOAA National Center for Environmental Information to describe the probability that such an event will happen in a given year. South Carolina's record-breaking October 2015 flooding — which The Weather Channel deemed "catastrophic" — was one of those events.

A man in Columbia, South Carolina, cleans up his home after much of it was destroyed in the floods that ravished the region in October 2015. Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images.

Upward of 2 feet of rain blanketed many regions of the state in under 24 hours, causing massive (and expensive) damages and taking over a dozen lives.

These events have become disturbingly normal, Gore said. On the other hand, we've also normalized many of the innovative solutions that help drastically cut back greenhouse gas emissions.

Which brings us to...

2. The thing that'll make you feel optimistic: When "An Inconvenient Truth" released in theaters over a decade ago, many solutions to reduce carbon emissions were still out of reach.

Not anymore.

"In a growing number of cities and regions, electricity from solar and wind is cheaper than electricity from burning fossil fuels," the former vice president said. "Electric cars are becoming more commonplace. Efficiency technologies are coming down in cost."

In other words, going green has become good business.

Workers install solar panels in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2016. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

After President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the historic Paris climate agreement to dramatically lower the world's carbon emissions, many have argued the country will reach its targets anyway as sustainable technologies continue to boom.

An analysis by Morgan Stanley found that the economic benefits to switching to renewable energies is outweighing the pros to keeping up the status quo:

"By our forecasts, in most cases favorable renewables economics rather than government policy will be the primary driver of changes to utilities’ carbon emissions levels. For example, notwithstanding president Trump’s stated intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, we expect the US to exceed the Paris commitment of a 26-28% reduction in its 2005-level carbon emissions by 2020."

As Gore put it, "The problems are worse, but the solutions are here."

We can't assume progress will happen, though; we have to work for it.

"All over the country activists are being energized," Gore said. And it's those activists — not just politicians in Washington — who will make the difference. "We are counting on people at the grassroots level."

Gore sat down to chat with Sanders to promote his new film on climate change, "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power," which opens in theaters on July 28, 2017. Watch a trailer below:

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less

In the autumn of 1939, Chiune Sugihara was sent to Lithuania to open the first Japanese consulate there. His job was to keep tabs on and gather information about Japan's ally, Germany. Meanwhile, in neighboring Poland, Nazi tanks had already begun to roll in, causing Jewish refugees to flee into the small country.

When the Soviet Union invaded Lithuania in June of 1940, scores of Jews flooded the Japanese consulate, seeking transit visas to be able to escape to a safety through Japan. Overwhelmed by the requests, Sugihara reached out to the foreign ministry in Tokyo for guidance and was told that no one without proper paperwork should be issued a visa—a limitation that would have ruled out nearly all of the refugees seeking his help.

Sugihara faced a life-changing choice. He could obey the government and leave the Jews in Lithuania to their fate, or he could disobey orders and face disgrace and the loss of his job, if not more severe punishments from his superiors.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Sugihara was fond of saying, "I may have to disobey my government, but if I don't, I would be disobeying God." Sugihara decided it was worth it to risk his livelihood and good standing with the Japanese government to give the Jews at his doorstep a fighting chance, so he started issuing Japanese transit visas to any refugee who needed one, regardless of their eligibility.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Gates Foundation

Once upon a time, a scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in the medical journal The Lancet that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines.

After years of controversy and making parents mistrust vaccines, along with collecting $674,000 from lawyers who would benefit from suing vaccine makers, it was discovered he had made the whole thing up. The Lancet publicly apologized and reported that further investigation led to the discovery that he had fabricated everything.

Keep Reading Show less
via Jess Martini / Tik Tok

There are few things as frightening to a parent than losing your child in a crowded place like a shopping mall, zoo, or stadium. The moment you realize your child is missing, it's impossible not to consider the terrifying idea they may have been kidnapped.

A woman in New Zealand recently lost her son in a Kmart but was able to locate him because of a potentially life-saving parenting hack she saw on TikTok a few months ago.

The woman was shopping at the retailer when she realized her two-year-old son Nathan was missing. She immediately told a friend to alert the staff to ensure he didn't leave through the store's front exit.

Keep Reading Show less