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From Despair to Determination: An Inconvenient Sequel

As I made my way to the movie theater for a free screening of An Inconvenient Sequel, Al Gore’s follow-up documentary to the game-changing original, I braced myself.

Let’s face it. Environmental advocacy work in the last six months has felt a lot like an emotional rollercoaster, one in which the Trump administration has attacked almost every aspect of in terms of our rights to clean air, pure water and a healthy climate. The situation at the state level looks just as bleak at times, with the power of oil and gas at the forefront of the state budget battle. I needed some kind of a mental boost, and wasn’t sure what this documentary had in store for me.

The free Friday night screening, generously provided by The Heinz Endowments and Climate Reality, pleasantly surprised me in the way it inspired hope, despite the significant challenges ahead.

The film walks viewers through current scientific facts surrounding the threat of extreme weather, sea level rise, the impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable people, and Gore’s personal road to his current position as global climate change leader. There are incredible scenes featuring leaders from both sides of the aisle who see the issue of climate change as an opportunity to invest in clean energy, proving that working in a united way is possible if we just take the time to be open. The film is also as much about never giving up as it is about the climate crisis, and I appreciated Gore’s personal reflections on the fact that oftentimes, the plans we have for life are not exactly what life has planned for us.

I felt personally connected to the film as Gore said outright that he knows many environmental advocates grapple with despair and moving forward on an almost daily basis. Sometimes, the uphill battle to protect our environment seems like one that will never reach the top of the mountain. But in the end, the film highlighted the undeniable progress that has been made in terms of clean energy, and it lifted my spirits and motivated me more than ever.

What I walked away with as I left the movie theater was so much more powerful than the despair I had initially expected. I walked away with the knowledge and the belief that this movement – our movement working towards a clean energy future – is so much larger than President Donald Trump. While we are certainly up against the powerful interests of dark money and a democracy crippled by the oil and gas industry – one man simply cannot stop a world of people working for change. 

President Trump can deny climate change all he wants, but as I watched the tireless, thankless policy work that went into the formation of the Paris Climate Agreement, watched hundreds of leaders buckling down to find shared solutions, to find a healthier future that the world can see collectively as one, I realized: it’s not up to President Trump to stop us.

It’s up to us to keep going.

Our work matters. Your work matters. Whether it’s at the borough level, the city level, or the state level, it is up to each one of us to make individual choices that move towards a clean energy future. No step is too small, and together, we can continue our momentum and progress.

One way you can make a difference: Apply to join Gore in Pittsburgh Oct. 17-19 for his Climate Leadership Corps Training. Equip yourself with the tools and the knowledge needed to make a difference in your community. Click here to get involved and apply today. I look forward to seeing you there!

An Inconvenient Sequel is now playing in theaters across the country. Click here for more information.

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