Is the truth about climate change really inconvenient?

The increasingly global nature of the current mediascape is one that has been a cause for contention, specifically in relation to the heated debates surrounding climate change. It was only last year that I began to realise my confusion about climate change. Is this simply political hype? Or is this a serious environmental crisis to which we must respond quickly and efficiently?

In realising this confusion, I began trolling the internet for documentaries and information, and it was the film by Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth that in fact managed to persuade me that climate change IS occurring and that we need to be responsible for the environment to which we are causing so much harm.

This weeks topic pushed me to look further into the film An Inconvenient Truth, in order to discover what had in fact made this film so powerful, and whether other people around the globe were affected in the same way I was. Whilst there was no global survey I could locate, The Pew Research Center for People & the Press in America found that in the period of June – July 2006 (the time the film was in theatres in the US) “the number of Americans believing that the earth was warming due to human activity increased from 41% to 50%” (Jacobsen 2011, p77).

Taking this into account, WHY was this film so effective in persuading the audience? Rosteck & Frentz, through their investigation into this film and the way it relates to environmental rhetoric circulating within our media, conclude that:

“this film directly models the bifurcated representation of nature… in a sense we are pulled toward two apparently contradictory images of the natural world” (2009, p15).

Al Gore evokes these two contradictory images through presenting serene and extraordinary images of the environment alongside dark visuals of what could happen if strategies of change are not implemented. I believe it is his use of evocative strategies and apocalyptic predictions in this film that has assisted in the persuasion of the audience; however I am in no way suggesting this is a negative approach.

Al gore has managed, through these strategies, to reach a global audience by providing global examples to which they can individually relate. This appeal to an international audience is one I believe should be used more often. Simon Cottle suggests that “the national outlook remains stubbornly implicated in news reporting of the ‘global'” (2011, p84). It is this statement that allowed me to conclude that my appreciation for the film, and my consequent persuasion was not simply due to the presentation of the images I am currently used to, however it was the relation of these images to a global context, allowing me to see the effects on the earth in its entirety.

If the media are to adopt a truly ‘cosmopolitan outlook’ we must ensure that our knowledge is not caught up in national axioms (Beck 2004).


Beck, U 2004, ‘Cosmopolitical Realism: on the distinction between cosmopolitanism in philosophy and the social sciences’, Global Networks, vol.4, no.2, pp131-156

Cottle, S 2011, ‘Taking global crises in the news seriously: Notes from the dark side of globalisation’, Global Media and Communication, vol.7, no.2, pp 77-95

Jacobsen, G 2011, ‘The Al Gore effect: An Inconvenient Truth and voluntary carbon offsets’, journal of Environmental Economics and Management, vol.61, pp67-78

Rosteck, T & Frentx, T.S 2009 ‘Myth and Multiple Readings in Environmental Rhetoric: The Case of An Inconvenient Truth’ Quarterly Journal of Speech, vol.95, no.1, pp 1-19

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