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In 2006, Davis Guggenheim directed a documentary film entitled, “An Inconvenient Truth” about the former United States Vice President, Al Gore’s efforts to educate the world on global warming. Gore used a slideshow as he traversed the United States of America to elaborate the urgency of climate change. This film became an instant box office hit, earning a total of $49 million. This film raised global understanding of climate change and consequently increased the momentum of environmental movement. On 10 December 2007, Al Gore, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign on global warming. He gave an acceptance speech, highlighted his cause, and why everyone should be concerned. This essay compares both film and speech. The film, An Inconvenient Truth and the Nobel acceptance speech have been evaluated on the following terms informative, persuasive, and credibility. The aim of this essay is to show that the film is more informative, persuasive, and credible than the speech.
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The film, An Inconvenient Truth, uses a clear introduction that captures the interest of the audience. Gore greets the audience with a joke. He introduces himself, and tells the audience that he used to be America’s next President. He uses visuals, detailed graphs, and some flowcharts to illustrate the change in climate. After this, Gore relates the topic with his life and education. He does this so that he can get the topic “closer” to the audience or show relevance. He uses a story about his classmate who had asked the teacher about continental drift. The teacher answered that it was ridiculous. This story highlights the ignorance of many people, their lack of knowledge and thus justifies his campaign. These reflections demonstrate the vulnerability element of human beings.
In this movie, he uses relevant and clear examples to prove his point that indeed the earth is warming up. He gives scientific facts about the rise in the temperature on the earth’s surface and shows the audience why this is occurring. The facts are credible since they are based on recent research. Gore shows the audience the effects of Carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases on the environment. He discusses the effects with the audience thus maintaining their interest. For example, he talks of the melting of the Greenland or the West Antarctica Ice sheet and the resulting increase in sea levels that will produce millions of refugees. He illustrates this effect by using Hurricane Katarina and the way it devastated the society.
All the points in the slide show are clear, and he uses clear transitions when he moves from one topic to the other. In the conclusion of the movie, he shows examples of animals and the effect of climate change on the animals. He gives the audience advice on what to do to reverse this trend. At the end, he urges the audience to be responsible for their acts like buying hybrid cars, planting trees, and avoiding unnecessary emission of carbon to the atmosphere so that they can reverse global warming.
Throughout the film, Gore shows his credibility. He is competent because he is equipped with expertise and knowledge on global warming. His credibility is strengthened by his personal experiences and education on the topic (He studies on climate issues at Harvard University). He also shows them that he has used credible sources. These are photographs of the planet taken from a number of space stations like The Blue Marble and Earthrise. These photographs make the audience to believe the information they are receiving because it is from a real and credible sources. The slides also use digital animation, slick graphics, and bring out beautiful imagery.
His experiences show his character and convince the audience that he is vulnerable like any of them. He shows his concern for the audience by encouraging them to take action. He assertively informs the audience that climate change is a moral value and it should not be politicized because of its urgency and the need for reversal. Gore presents his ideas and facts in a consistent manner that easily convinces the audience. He demonstrates charisma by showing a positive outlook to the audience. He shows the audience that though there is a problem, everyone is at risk and there is a solution. Gore uses his extrovert personality to address the issues in an emphatic language that the audience understands.
Although the film is on climate change, he sometimes distracts the audience with political issue. He uses slides to demonstrate how America’s former President, George W. Bush failed to lead his nation in environmental concerns. Gore feels that by educating the public about climate change and its deleterious effects, he will be able to create political will. This will is very essential because the U.S is a world leader, if they can lower carbon and greenhouse emissions, other nations will follow suit.
In the Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Gore is very formal in the introduction. The opening engages the mind of the audience less although it is relevant to the occasion: the story of the Founder of Nobel Peace Prizes, Alfred Nobel. He clearly relates the topic to himself when he says that he has a chance to look for ways to meet his aim of educating people on climate change. He relates the topic to the audience and shows them the problem that is at hand. He illustrates the credibility of the sources when he mentions that his facts are backed by scientific research and data. Gore shows the audience how the world leaders can help in reversing global warming. They can be “…all powerful but impotent”. These words mean that the world leaders can have all the power but if they fail to realize the weight of this issue then their power is of no use and everyone stands victim.
Gore uses clear transitions as he progresses from one paragraph to the other. All the points are clear and have been placed in distinct paragraphs for easy understanding. The points have been backed with examples. Gore grasps the interest of the audience by engaging them with metaphors. He says that the earth has a “fever”. This metaphor implies that something has to be done for the problem to be reversed and the audience is responsible.
Gore uses the nuclear war to show that with negotiations, global warming can be curtailed through the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gases. He emphasizes that if the world stopped a nuclear winter then they can also stop a carbon summer. Gore uses nuclear war to show the audience that all it takes is action.
In delivering the speech, Gore uses stories about Cordell Hull and converses with the audience. The distracting characteristics have been minimized implying that the speech is focused. The speech has also given information highlighting the success of his cause for instance the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol by Japan. Gore’s speech is purely informative because it describes, illustrates issues, and suggests possible practical solutions. This speech focuses on quality research from scientists and illustrates the immediate effects of global warming. All his logical arguments have been presented in a generalized conclusion. Gore looks at certain instances and tries to give some future predictions if something is not done.
However, one key shortcoming of the speech is that he fails to summarize the key elements. He does not give practical solutions like what an ordinary person should do concerning global warming. Towards the end of the speech, he addresses the political class rather than the individual. This shows that he has deviated from the person he is addressing to addressing nations. He should have had disseminated information to the audience on the actions that can reduce the emissions as seen in the film, “An inconvenient Truth.”
Gore shows his credibility as he delivers the speech. He reveals the enormous knowledge has on the topic. In comparison with the film, the speech is does not have facts like photographs of the earth and flowcharts to illustrate global warming. This reduces his credibility in the speech, although his personality and charisma remain the same. Gore is a charismatic leader who stands firmly for what he believes is right: action. He informs the audience that tomorrow’s fate depends on today’s action. Gore maintains his credibility in the speech through incorporating dynamism, trustworthiness, and competence. He has used psychological appeals to get to the mind of the listener.
In terms of persuasiveness, the film is more persuasive than the speech. In the film, he appeals to the intellect, and the feelings of the audience. He uses visuals, flow charts, and photographs to show the audience how Gore’s actions affect them, and how the audience’s actions affect him. The acceptance speech relies more on the use of coercion. The listener does not have any desirable choice. Either he or she adapts to the influence of the speaker or he faces the consequences of a “carbon summer.”
In conclusion, the film is more informative than the speech because it uses the human element of vulnerability, and recent research to show the urgency of climate change. It is important to note that some facts have errors for instance the rise of sea levels by 7 meters. This point can cause alarm and panic to those people who live in low-lying areas especially along the coast and on oceanic islands.
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