62 pages 2 hours read

Al Gore

An Inconvenient Truth

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2006

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Symbols & Motifs

The Planet Earth From Space

Because much of An Inconvenient Truth is so visual, one of the main symbols readers encounter in the book is also visual. It’s an image of the Earth from space. The reader first encounters it on the inset of the cover. It reappears right after the Introduction, as Gore begins his narrative with a number of images that show the black of space surrounding the planet. He returns to it near the end, where he quotes Carl Sagan in calling Earth a “pale blue dot” (298). This symbol is designed to provide a glimpse of Earth’s majesty and to invite a particular perspective on how every human is truly in it together. It evokes a certain awe, while also bringing home how small the planet is, when compared to the universe around it. He quotes Archibald MacLeish:

To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold–brothers who know now that they are truly brothers(12).

The images on Page 12 and Page 300 are exactly the same–a view of Earth from the surface of the moon, taken during the Apollo 8 mission.