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An Inconvenient Truth
Discussion Questions Worksheet

An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary produced based on Al Gore's global warming Powerpoint, remains the most complete and comprehensive examination of the causes and effects of global warming. While the Inconvenient Truth very much takes on the view that global warming is primarily an anthropogenic (human-created) phenomenon, its data and conclusions are largely consistent with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report of 2007.

This worksheet presents discussion questions based on the big ideas from each of the main sections of the Inconvenient Truth documentary. I decided to omit any questions are asked from the sections of the movie that center on Al Gore's biography. Typically when I show this movie in class, I skip through those sections. The focus here is completely on the science of global warming and its impacts on our civilization. Instructors may experience better results with this documentary if they skip through the biographic sections entirely. The questions may be answered by students either during the movie showing or after each section. I've found the best results when showing the movie in sections. This seems to minimize any loss of attention on the students' part.

A few notes of caution when showing An Inconvenient Truth:

  • A statement is included that implies the Himalayan glaciers may disappear within 25 years. This was based on a later-retracted claim from the 2007 United Nations IPCC report and is incorrect.
  • A strong implication is given that global warming produces more frequent hurricanes. There is no research to support this, however, global warming may cause stronger and more intense hurricanes.
  • Gore implies that Lake Chad dried up due to global warming. This is really due to unsustainable water extraction and overpopulation in the area.
  • While polar bears experience shortened hunting seasons as the Arctic melts, there isn't much evidence to suggest they are drowning at sea as the documentary suggests.
  • The melting of Greenland's glaciers may slow down the Great Ocean Conveyor's release of heat, but it won't send Europe into an ice age. The Gulf stream is also there, and it is driven mainly by wind.

Essential concepts: Global warming, global climate change, hurricanes, el nino, la nina, carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, methane, greenhouse effect, weather, climate, atmosphere, stratosphere, troposphere, IPCC, proxies, average temperature, Hurricane Katrina, great ocean conveyor, glaciers, ice caps, sea ice, water cycle, hydrologic cycle

Answer Key: Included as part of the environmental science instructor resources subscription page.

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