Accountability and Consequences Essay

Submitted By balewengda
Words: 3022
Pages: 13

Accountability and Consequences In the film “An Inconvenient Truth” director Davis Guggenheim, with the help of former United States Vice President Al Gore, tries to persuade the audience that not only was global warming caused by humans but that it poses a real and immediate threat to the survival of the human race. The main rhetorical strategy at play in this film is logos which Al Gore uses in its evidentiary and organizational forms to show-case and explain what global warming is, its effect upon the planet and on humans, a comparison of carbon dioxide (which will now be referred to as CO2) levels in the earth’s atmosphere at the release of this film and what it was when measurements first began in the 1950’s, how the American public at large is left in the dark about what global warming is or if it even exists, and how the American government turns a blind eye to its very existence and any consequences that may come about because of it. All of these conditions are demonstrated via photographic comparisons, graphs, animations, video footage, sound bytes, and even a cartoon clip - visual aides that he uses to support and strengthen his argument. Though this film is heavily logos based there are flashes of ethos and pathos that rise up from between the slides of Al Gore’s presentation in the form of his character; who he is as an environmentalist, and a father, and as vignettes showcasing his Presidential loss, the accident concerning his son, and the loss of his older sister, Nancy, to break up the factual and scientific undertone of his slideshow in an attempt to gain mass audience appeal and garner relatability. Throughout the film Al Gore addresses what consequences humanity has wrought upon themselves by remaining in the dark about this issue. Though it is never directly stated who his audience is, they are extended an invitation to view slivers of his personal and professional life.
As Al Gore begins to address the issue of global warming, it becomes apparent that this presentation is geared toward viewers who already possess an understanding of what it is. However, just as a refresher Al Gore gives the audience a “traditional” explanation of global warming and then follows it up with a small clip from the cartoon Futurama, an episode titled “Crimes of the Hot” (Season 5, Episode 1), to further reiterate his explanation but in layman’s terms, using something as socially common and understood as a cartoon. In doing so he tries to show the audience that understanding and making a change concerning global warming isn’t just something for those involved in the field of science. In this way he uses the definition and description part of logos by defining global warming and describing what it is doing to the earth’s atmosphere. Furthermore, he uses many other visual aides to show the causes of global warming such as the human behaviors of deforestation and the heavy use of fossil fuels for energy, and the effects that the actions of the human race is having on the planet. At one point he shows a formula on the screen “Old Habits + New Technology = Dramatically Altered Consequences” so as to show that through a lack of desire to transition from the dirty energy sources and land clearing practices that are currently in use, the fault lies with humanity. As a way to further support his claim, in another series of slides featuring a small percentage of peer reviewed scientific articles about global warming versus a small percentage of articles in the popular press concerning global warming Al Gore shows that the idea that scientists don’t agree on what caused global warming or if it’s even a problem has been purposely manufactured so as to inspire doubt in the general populace. By stating that they would be forced to choose between the environment and the economy, that he was making the whole thing up, and that humans play no part in CO2 emissions or the impact they have on the planet and therefore the human race, the