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Permanent Tourist

A personal website by Mark Howells-Mead

An Inconvenient Truth

I’m not usually one for political speaking or speakers who hold forth on environmental issues. Quite often, I find the subject boring or repetitive, the speaker uninteresting or the presentation so uninspiring, that it makes my brain shut off altogether. This evening, however, an hour and a half of Swiss channel SF2‘s evening programming was given over to American ex-presidential candidate Al Gore and his renowned film, “An Inconvenient Truth“. We began watching it purely because it started just as we sat down to dinner, but we were immediately locked in by Gore’s straight talking, impressive statistics and (as he himself calls it) a “slideshow” of imagery and video (of which Steve Jobs would be proud).

An hour and a half later, after being fascinated and inspired by graphs for possibly the first time ever, I was half wishing that Gore could run for President again, some eight years after being questionably defeated by George W. Bush in the national elections. One has to wonder how the world would be if Gore had become U.S. President in 2000 and how the world will change if Barack Obama is voted in as the next President. I haven’t been following the campaign closely enough to know anything about his policies or future plans. I do hope, though, that Obama is as serious about environmental issues, particularly if one takes into account the statistics and comparisons which Gore referred to in his film: that the U.S. is one of the poorer performers in world environmental terms.

There are many references online to Gore’s film and activities, with many saying that his techniques and presentations are “scare-mongering” or “inaccurate“. On the other hand, one of Gore’s points is that the world sometimes needs to be shocked into action. That wouldn’t excuse him from blatantly lying, of course. Film sequences where major cities are flooded following theoretical sea level rises bring environmental points across well, though compressing eventualities which would happen over many years. Inclusion of a photograph of the Brienz floodings from 2005 as part of a series of increasingly severe weather conditions – where the damage pictured was caused more by insufficient flood drainage channelling and uncleared fallen wood in surrounding forests than by severe weather – showed that dramatic images are used more for their impact than for factually accurate demonstrations of future events. As you can see for yourself in the trailer for the documentary film, the emphasis is certainly on drama and impressive facts. The film is nonetheless highly watchable and provides a good basis for further research, if you are looking for an “everyman” view of global environmental cause and effect.

All that, and Gore uses a Mac and Apple slideshow software “Keynote” too. :-) A team of media producers after my own heart, from which many corporate slideshow producers could learn many new creative techniques.