To be fair, Al Gore has been building his superhero status in the environmental movement for some time.
Since his 2006 release of his Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, he’s harnessed his celebrity power and powers of persuasion to make climate change a regular dinner-time conversation.
Total superhero, of course.
But last week, in an email from the Climate Reality Project – his nonprofit devoted to climate change – Gore demonstrated that he has the skills and perseverance for the long haul.
The email announced that Gore had premiered a new movie at the Sundance Film Festival. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, released at this particular moment in history, will propel Gore to superhero status in the environmental movement.
When An Inconvenient Truth was first released, it felt almost like he was testing the waters, finding a new career to devote his passion for change and public service. Now, he knows what he’s in for, and has gathered the expertise to prove it.
Rallying your supporters is great. But true change, which, after all, is what any environmental communication is trying to do, is about more than a rallying cry.
It’s timing, it’s emotions, it’s wording. It’s feeling strongly about something that is both bigger than yourself and within your power.
What Gore did with his movie sequel, and the fortunate release date, is combine the power of strong environmental communications and persuasion into one.
In part of the email I received last week, it stated:
At the festival, Vice President Gore joined an esteemed panel of climate innovators to discuss the role of storytelling in the climate movement. Vice President Gore described how engagement and inspiration through storytelling can encourage climate action…
Storytelling! It’s powers to change minds are so deeply rooted in the way our brains work, that we can’t possibly come away unaffected. See any movie, even a bad one, and you come away with a strong opinion about how it affected you. Read a book, a magazine, the back of a cereal box, and if the writer has incorporated a story, you’ll come away with more than just an opinion.
You’ll come away remembering it.
But Gore didn’t stop there. To prove his point, he harnessed other key communications techniques:
Celebrity spokesperson. The environmental movement has strong support from celebrities, and those organizations that can afford to use them, do it wisely. For the Climate Reality Project, it’s easy as the entire organization is headed by Gore himself. Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Kennedy, Jr. have done the same with their fame.
Use others to tell your story. That guy who tells you how great he is is slightly unbelievable. But the friend who recommends a good plumber will likely get your business. Why? Because of the power of the testimonial. We have a natural tendency to reject what people say about themselves, and a natural tendency to trust those opinions of people we know.
Gore uses this technique to perfection in a lot of ways, but when the premiere of An Inconvenient Sequel was introduced by none other than the environmental movement’s favorite celebrity, Robert Redford, who could resist?
Nothing you say is worth anything without propelling us to action at the end of your soapbox, and Gore is a master of persuasion. In the email I referenced earlier, the Climate Reality project excites us into action with remarkable ease.
Feeling inspired? Sign up to be notified first about future Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings. Led by Vice President Gore, you’ll learn how you can use your storytelling skills to communicate the facts of the climate crisis and motivate action at this critical time. You’ll also find out how you can use social media, powerful storytelling, and personal outreach to inspire audiences to take action and solve the climate crisis.
But perhaps the most powerful reason Gore has become an environmental superhero is because now he has a serious, very dangerous arch-nemesis.
If Hillary Clinton were about to be inaugurated as president, then “An Inconvenient Sequel” would still be highly worth seeing, but the movie, which premiered tonight at Sundance to a justly enthusiastic audience, has now been given the kind of shot in the arm that only a seething enemy can provide.
It’s like a lesson straight out of Footloose. Never have you seen a group of teenagers want to dance SO much as when it was outlawed.
Same goes here. And Gore has just given us the boombox to our own stand-up-and-fight-dance-party.