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Gore film calls for environmental action

Experts say former Vice President Al Gore's documentary on global warming is right on, but it has its critics.

What does former Vice President Al Gore have in common with "Chucky" and "Freddie Krueger"? He is the main character in a horror movie, at least of sorts.

To some, "An Inconvenient Truth," the documentary opening today about global warming and Gore's crusade to raise environmental awareness, will be scarier than anything Hollywood has produced in years.

The film tracks Gore and the multimedia lectures he gives around the world. His talks connect greenhouse gasses to recent draughts, hurricanes, floods, famine, heat waves, melting glaciers and global epidemics. And there's more to come, unless political action is taken, the movie asserts.

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Video: Gore's crusade to halt global warming
Watch a trailer for the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

Gore presents endless charts, numbers and diagrams of temperatures and carbon dioxide and water levels to argue that global warming is real and alarming, and that the U.S. is responsible for almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions.

His conclusion: "Maybe we should be preparing against other threats than terrorists."

So is Gore being an alarmist or a soothsayer?

Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, saw the movie and said Gore calls it like it is. "He didn't say the world is going to end, or that all these consequences are going to happen tomorrow," Schmidt said. "I thought it was a good balance of evidence and caution."

Schmidt agreed with Gore that global warming is being caused by humans. "It is unquestionably human-driven, there is no other possibility," he said. "The idea that there are two sides to this, that there are all these dueling scientists, that's media fabrication."

Not surprisingly, the film already has its preemptive critics. The free-market think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute aired television ads in 14 cities the week before the movie premiered, arguing that it's alarmist. "Carbon dioxide--they call it pollution," the ads said. "We call it life."

But Bob Epstein, co-founder of Environmental Entrepreneurs, a network for business people trying to combine environmentalism with entrepreneurialism, said Gore was spot on.

"We are already seeing the consequences and we already have the solution," Epstein said.

Schmidt agreed that there are things that can be done immediately to slow global warming, such as improving energy efficiency and reducing the use of carbon emitting fuels. He also thinks the Gore film will raise awareness, even if it falls short of sparking real political action.

"It will probably expose people to more science than they have seen since high school, probably not even then. I think that's a good thing," he said. "Do I think it's going to cause some seismic shift in the political outlook in the U.S.? I'm not terribly optimistic about that."