For this activity I looked at how some newspapers reported ontwo films about climate change.
An Inconvenient Truth is a 2006 documentary film, directed by Davis Guggenheim, about former United States Vice President Al Gore‘s campaign to educate citizens about global warming via a comprehensive slide show that, by his own estimate, he has given more than a thousand times. (Description taken from Wikipedia)
The Daily Mail- September 15 2006- Chris Tookey
Chris summarises his film review with the phrase “Self-promoting documentary by Al Gore” . The review mostly consists of criticising Al gore as a patronising hypocritical politician. The content is said to be “far from convincing”
The Observer- Philip French- 2006
“Every man woman and child in the country should see this film” is how Philip says he feels about this movie. He refers to Al Gore as a politician by highlighting how much better he would have been than the then current prime minister George Bush. Philip claims the moral issues are delivered with “authority, wit and style”
The Great Global Warming Swindle is a documentary film that argues against the scientific consensus that global warming is “very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (man-made) greenhouse gas concentrations”. It has been described by both its original broadcaster Channel 4 and the British regulator Ofcom as “a polemic“. (Description taken from Wikipedia)
The Sun Newspaper- Opinion piece by Jeremy Clarkson. (March 17, 2007 Saturday)
Jeremy was a fan of this show which confirmed his view “I’m not a scientist but I read enough scientific literature to know that the whole global warming theory is bonkers.”
He describes the scientists in the program as ‘real ones’ as opposed to those that were bribed by Margret Thatcher to say that burning fossil fuels will kill the planet. He claims the media and politicians had their own reasons for perpetuating the myth of climate change as well as the “hippies and communists”.
The Independent- Dominic Lawson March 2nd 2007
This article starts with a quick recap of Al Gore and the Inconvenient truth and then highlights controversies surrounding the film made by Martin Durkin before he made the great global warming swindle. However in his review of the great global warming swindle, Dominic admits that the arguments are convincing.
Reflecting on these articles it seems that the film makers are the story more than the scientific content. In the case of Al Gore it is easy to see how the issue can be seen as part of his political agenda. But even the independent journalist who was a fan of the movie seemed more impressed with Al Gore than the content “There is nothing essentially new in the picture” Jeremy Clarkson in the Sun seemed ecstatic that The great global warming swindle found scientists that confirmed what he as a none scientist knew for years. Maybe this highlights a larger truth that media sources will happily support scientific proof as long as it supports a preconceived opinion. The independent seemed sceptical of the film maker but admitted to finding the science convincing. This is the only hint in any of the reports that scientific findings may have influenced the opinion of the reporter.
An ofcom review of the great global warming Swindle felt some individuals were misrepresented and there were concerns over how some of the facts were (or were not) presented. However is did not feel that “ this led to the audience being materially misled” for me this gives the impression that as long as no one deliberately lies, you don’t have to tell the truth, the Whole truth and nothing but the truth. It also shows that stories which are believed by a relatively small number in the scientific community may well get as much or a greater amount of air-time as more widely believed stories.