Free tickets to this Saturday’s City-sponsored screening of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power disappeared in a matter of minutes last week, as Santa Monica’s sustainability-minded citizens jumped at the chance to attend a Question and Answer session with former Vice President Al Gore himself.

The screening is part of a public education campaign from the Office of Sustainability and the Environment in anticipation of “Climate Fest” in May this year.  The City partners with non-profit Sustainable Works to screen four movies a year; getting one of the world’s biggest leaders in fighting climate change was a major boon to the program.

“Oh my god it’s amazing,” said the non-profit’s director of community programs, Gina Garcia.  Garcia reached out to Gore’s people to see if they could work out a date he would be able to attend the screening.  She was ecstatic to see all-capital “YES” in her inbox last month confirming it would actually happen.

National news on Climate Change over the holiday season has not been so positive.  A week before Christmas, President Donald Trump removed climate change from the list of worldwide threats menacing the United States.   The president’s National Security Strategy makes no mention of the dangers scientists describe amid a warming climate, including more extreme weather events that could spark humanitarian crises, mass migrations and conflict.

Then, last week, Trump said the East Coast “could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming” as bitterly cold temperatures froze large swaths of the country.  Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism about climate change science, calling global warming a “hoax” created by the Chinese to damage American industry.  The president’s agenda is a reversal from past Democratic and Republican administrations.

But while Trump pledged to leave the United Nations Climate Accord aimed at curbing greenhouse gas production, cities like Santa Monica vowed to stay in.  Last month, Mayor Ted Winterer was one of 45 mayors to voice his support for the accord at a gathering in Chicago.  This spring the City will roll out a Climate Action and Adaptation plan, the blueprint for becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

“Municipalities and states, overall, have absolutely been leading the charge since we backed out of the Paris Agreement, said James Velez-Conway with the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, who helped arrange Saturday’s screening.  “This is a sign of solidarity.”

Those who didn’t land one of the 125 seats inside the Aero Theater to see the screening can livestream the Q&A with Gore on the city of Santa Monica’s Facebook page.  The event starts at 7:30 p.m. with the National Resources Defense Council’s Daniel Hinerfeld moderating the discussion after the 98 minute film.  The City still has a handful of tickets to giveaway through its social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

“The more we know about global realities, the better we can adapt locally,” public information officer Constance Farrell said.

The City is still planning one more screening: Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, a documentary from Anthony Bourdain. Organizers have not confirmed the special guest for the Q&A portion at this time.

“This was pretty lucky with this movie with Al Gore,” Velez-Conway said. “The opportunity came up because Al Gore happens to be in town this time of the year, so we said we would absolutely love to have him.  We are honored and flattered.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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