06/19/2006 12:44 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Circuit Riding for Climate Sanity

Salt Lake City -- It wasn't unusually hot this weekend when An Inconvenient Truth opened in this the most complex of modern conservatism's redoubts. After all, Utah is one of the most conservative states in the nation, but its state symbol is a beehive, originally chosen to symbolize the intense community, even collective, commitment espoused by Mormonism. That kind of collective committment is exactly what the entire nation will need to develop if we're going to address global warming effectively.

In Utah, as elsewhere, Al Gore's movie provoked a far-ranging discussion of what global warming means not only as a scientific but also as a political and a cultural challenge. There were actually THREE in-depth analyses in the local paper of the movie and reactions to it.

Movies: The right's heated rhetoric clouds Gore's message

Mullen: Turning up heat on global warming

Guy: Al Gore and my inconvenient birthday rose

All three writers rose to the challenge Vice President Gore makes in the movie -- to view global warming as a fundamental and challenging, if inconvenient, truth. And all three avoided the temptation to shift the conversation away from the consequences of global warming to speculations about the politics or the motivations behind the movie. Movies rarely accomplish this -- something different is happening here.

The day after An Inconvenient Truth opened, there was a the Sierra Club held a rally to highlight the need for action and, even before the film opened in his city, Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson had pointed to the need to take the movie as a starting point, not an end: "You're certainly convinced that there is a real problem here and it's something we need to address. But I think we need to add that element of hope - the fact that there really is something we can do as businesses, individuals and communities."

And the state's Governor, Jon Huntsman, joined other Western Governors last week in agreeing that global warming is a serious threat to the West. With the two most influential local political leaders in Utah getting the message, you have to wonder how long Utah's Congressional delegation will keep their heads in the sand with the President?