An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore Rodale, $171 Al Gore can hardly be accused of jumping on the ecology bandwagon to reinvigorate his political career. The former vice-president, who likes to introduce himself as the man who 'was the next president of the USA', has always been ahead of the pack as far as environmental issues are concerned. At college during the 1960s, he studied under Roger Revelle, the scientist who first noticed that carbon emissions were causing global warming. Gore wrote his first book on the subject, Earth in the Balance, in 1992. And since losing the 2000 presidential race, he's been travelling the world talking about the dangers of global warming. The content of his presentation has now been distilled into An Inconvenient Truth, as well as the movie of the same name. The book is a brilliant piece of agit-prop. Using photos , diagrams, charts and a minimum of text, Gore spells out what global warming is and why it's happening. And he does it all in a simple manner. In between the science, he makes the case that every individual should do something to help solve the problem. Gore couches many of his arguments in personal terms. He talks a lot about his family, because he wants readers to realise how global warming can affect their own families. Gore recasts a scientific and political issue as a moral one: you must act to save the planet to ensure a future for your children. The science in the book, although not as detailed as that in Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers, covers all the requisite bases. Gore explains how carbon from fossil-fuel emissions is trapping heat and raising the temperature on Earth; how glaciers are melting; how lakes are disappearing; how species are becoming extinct; and so on. The brilliance of the scientific presentation lies in its clarity. Gore has leveraged his contacts in institutions such as the US military - who collect geological data - to provide excellent visual materials. Two photos taken a year apart, for example, show how the Colorado River is drying up. Readers are able to see the effects of global warming for themselves. Gore is best known as a politician, but he once worked as a journalist, so he knows the importance of seeing things with his own eyes. He once even hitched a ride on a US Navy submarine so he could examine ice density. He has no truck with disbelievers such as George W. Bush. Global warming is a scientific fact, he says, and those who say otherwise are lying to protect their own, usually business, interests. Gore even claims that the ferocity of hurricane Katrina was due to global warming - and that we can expect many more like it. The Bush administration has denied any such link. The book details an array of businesses that have a vested interest in downplaying the effects of global warming. Petrol companies such as ExxonMobil, for instance, have tried to make the arguments that global warming is a scientific fact seem less definitive. Gore explains their methods, and offers a series of environmental counter arguments. However, the bulk of the book is appealingly personal. Clearly, Gore has remembered that it was the perception that he was too academic and out of touch with the average person that may have cost him the 2000 election. An Inconvenient Truth is peppered with photos of wife Tipper and his family, and includes a moving chapter about how his sister died of smoking-induced lung cancer. He succeeds in giving the book a common touch that, in family-obsessed America, is needed to entice people to read it. Much has been said about Gore running as the Democratic presidential candidate in the next US election, and he may make a great president. But during his years in the Clinton administration, Gore's environmental plans were frequently stifled. He may well make a better job of saving the planet if he remains outside the White House.