“An Inconvenient Truth” by Al Gore, is a documentary that tells us about Global Warming. As he tells us, Global Warming involves solar radiation, in the form of light waves, passing through the atmosphere. Most of this radiation is absorbed by the Earth and warms it. Then some of the energy is radiated back into space, by the Earth, in the form of infrared waves. However during this process, some of the outgoing infrared radiation is trapped by the Earth’s atmosphere and warms it; which in return keeps the temperature at a livable and somewhat constant level.
However, the atmospheric layer is now being thickened by the harmful pollution and because of that more of the infrared waves are being trapped and are now warming more worldwide.
Throughout the documentary Gore is targeting the people who want to know about global warming and those who need to make a change in order to stop the current, unrealized harm that global warming is causing.
This is analyzed by the way he does his presentation. He performs his presentation in front of a live audience, an audience who is diverse. Diverse in the way that he has presented this slide show in many diverse places such as Aspen, Portland, London, Vienna, Italy, Spain, China, and South Korea just to name a few, and with males and females of every age. Gore also presents this slide show to people who want to know more about the situation. Which in return, we can assume that if the audience is attending his presentation, then they have little or no knowledge about the situation at hand and it is highly likely that they have not done much of anything in order to prevent global warming from becoming a future dilemma.
In order for Gore to reach his audience he uses visuals and techniques. The documentary actually begins with a beautiful, peaceful visual of a flowing river with rustling leaves and chirping birds, all of which start the audience out with an idea of what will cease to exist and what they will lose if global warming does not cease. His visuals are also precise. For instance graphs derived from scientific research yet at the same time they were easy for everyone to understand due to Gore’s detailed explanation of each one. An example of this would be the graph he used that dated back 650,000 years. When he presented this graph he explained that it measured CO2 and temperature related measurements. He then continued to explain that when there is more carbon dioxide then the temperature becomes warmer. He is also sure to include the fact that today’s CO2 measurement/concentration is higher now than ever before and that scientists project a great and dangerous increase in less than 50 years if there is no change.
Al Gore also makes sure that during his speech he uses visuals that have sentimental value and that can also be remembered by the viewers once the documentary is finished. For example, he showed many photographs of deteriorating landmarks across the world, many of which are well known to a majority of viewers even if they have just heard of the names. A specific technique Gore also includes is a story telling technique. He used a story from his past that included a fellow classmate asking if the east coast of South America and West Coast of Africa were once joined together. He ended this story with a comical statement while also stating the answer to his fellow classmate’s question.
This story telling technique allowed his presentation to appear more upbeat and entertaining to his audience rather than dull with only strict statistics. Last but not least, Gore uses humor as a technique. He does this by including a clip from the Simpsons, a comedy cartoon shown nationwide. The clip involved global warming and was used as a way to explain things in a different way and/or view to people who may not understand fully, while adding a slight humor to the serious situation.
The visual argument was prominent throughout Al Gore’s documentary. When he was not using the many pictures and videos consuming mostly of the drastic changes that are already taking place, he was showing the graphs of scientific study and predictions for the near future all because of global warming. The pictures contained mountains that were once covered with snow caps but are now dry and desolate, glaciers that once stood 700 feet tall but now crack and crumble only to melt in the infrared warmed waters, lakes that once flowed freely down their lively paths but now almost cease to exist, and even trees that were once colorful and forcefully standing but now weak and drained of pigment. These were strong visual arguments as much as they were emotional stimuli. Strong arguments because the pictures spoke for themselves and no one can argue against the facts they can see with their own two eyes and strong emotional stimuli because people could now see what their children will never or no longer be able to see or enjoy. Another example of visual argument that provokes emotional responses would be the weather changes.
For instance, global warming can be held accountable for the severity of Hurricane Katrina. This astonished people simply because Hurricane Katrina had also hit the state of Florida when it was titled as a category one hurricane, however Katrina then traveled over warm waters and became much stronger by the time it reached New Orleans. To prove this point Gore included a statistic that showed how the top ten hottest years occurred in the past fourteen year, 2005 being the ultimate hottest year on record. All of which affects the ocean waters as well as producing additional stronger storms such as tornados, typhoons, flooding, and even droughts. This truly affected them emotionally by actually seeing how the world is practically falling apart due to global warming. The specific emotional response that occurred to the viewers was despair and astonishment, mainly because many were actually viewing and understanding the harm that is being done by them and everyone else who is failing to respond to global warming warnings. In conclusion, the visual arguments, such as the videos and pictures, were greatly appropriate for Gore’s purpose because it actually allowed the viewers to see a reality that they on other terms may have never been able to see.
It hopefully also gave the viewers the urge to change their ways in order to fight the bigger crisis that may come in the future because of global warming. Like Gore said, “This is not really a political issue, so much as it is a moral issue, if we allow global warming to happen it is deeply unethical.”Authority also plays a role in the documentary. Gore, for instance, is a great example of authority on the topic of global warming. He has a great knowledge on the subject from his constant research and is looked up to by many people because of his standing on politics, since he is a well known political figure.
The sources of other authorities, such as the sources of the scientific studies, the photographs, and short informational videos, are all named at the end of the documentary, if not stated by Gore himself during his presentation. The sources of information are current as well as a few years old, after all there were studies done in the past that were used in order to compare today’s statistics. Also, the authorities are respected by the audience in the way that the audience simply believes the information being given to them through out the documentary.
In addition, Al Gore includes “little movies” of his life throughout the documentary. These movies consisted of when he was running for the presidency against George W. Bush, how he became interested in global warming, how his life was growing up, and even life changing moments involving his son and best friend. By including moments of his presidential campaign against Bush it showed his audience how he can bounce back from a loss and sill be determined to inform the people of problems in order to help them. It also shows that if he would have won, he would have made global warming a main issue. “Little movies” of his young life allow his audience to see ways he actually relates to them. Whether it be the closeness he held with his family or the way he moved from place to place to accommodate his father’s lifestyle as a tobacco farmer and his senate duties. Gore even included the way he has had to deal with a loss of a best friend whom died long before she should have because of lung cancer due to smoking. He included this as a comparison to the situation of global warming.
Gore explains that his father would always find excuses to continue growing tobacco after the surgeon general’s warning until the death of his close friend. This is just like people coming up with reasons to avoid paying attention to global warming situation. Gore also includes information about his son when he was hit by a car and was put into critical condition. This would relate to the majority of the audience who has children themselves and at the same time show everyone that he has tragedies in his life just like every other ordinary person does. Another important part included through the little movies, possibly the most important little movie because it contained main emphasis on the topic, was how he became interested in global warming. He informed his viewers that his interest was jump started by an image, an image shown to him in college by a favored professor. He then explains that this college professor was also a talented scientist who would send weather balloons over the pacific in order to get statistics of his own. The professor recorded his findings and shared them with his classmates, all of which Al Gore absorbed like a sponge and became interested.
In conclusion, Gore’s purpose for this documentary is to inform the people of global warming and how it is effecting the earth now. It also evidently shows how it will severely effect us in the future if we do not act on it. He wants everyone to realize this is something to start worrying about now and not put it off any longer. He also wants to give people hope that they can overcome this and change the process of global warming. After all we, as a whole, have overcome wars, famines, slavery, the right for women to vote, defeated totalitarianism, desegregated schools, cured fearsome diseases like polio, worked together to bring down communism, and have even fixed a hole in the atmospheric layer, which was said to be impossible. Another main purpose is to help everyone understand the alternative ways we can bring carbon emissions to zero in order to defeat this issue.
These alternative ways include changing they electricity we use, the cars we drive, and even the things we buy. It is necessary to encourage everyone to make a change. Buy energy efficient light bulbs, increase insulation, plant trees, walk or ride a bike rather than drive, switch to renewable energy sources when possible, and even vote for leaders who pledge to solve this problem. In Al Gore’s own words, ” It’s separating the truth from the fiction and the accurate connections from the misunderstandings is part of what you learn here but when the warnings are accurate and based on sound science then we as human beings, whatever country we live in, have to find a way to make sure the warnings are heard and responded to.”
Gore, Al. “An Inconvenient Truth”. Documentary. 2006.