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Project 2: An Inconvenient Truth

Page history last edited by Dillon Fitzgerald 12 years, 9 months ago

Dillon Fitgerald

English 1020


Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"


     What if I were to tell you that the world as we know it is slowly coming to an end? All sorts of new questions would arise… Such as how, who is to blame, and what can we do to stop this? Now what if I were to tell you that the cause of our slowly dying Earth is you? Not just you, but all of humankind! This makes the whole concept even harder to grasp, people all over the world are avoiding blame and the problem altogether. This problem is global warming, an increase in atmospheric and oceanic temperatures due to a rise in gas emissions by humans and our rapidly expanding industries. But I am not alone in saying these things, more and more people are finally starting to realize the danger that Al Gore has brought to our concern in his book “An Inconvenient Truth.” In this book, Gore defines global warming as a global issue that is rapidly getting worse as seen by an increase in climate, and atmospheric CO2 levels. He primarily does this through the use of pathos (showing people and animals in danger because of this issue), and logos (multiple case studies, scientific graphs, and educational pictures), along with some personal experience in hopes that people everywhere will see the severity of this problem.


     This book was focused on getting everyone to become aware of global warming; therefore the target audience is all of humankind and Gore proposes that we need to work together to beat this issue. Although, since Gore did plan to do a lot to help this problem if he was elected into office, I feel that it is somewhat targeted at the Bush administration and his followers. I feel this way because this administration really did nothing to stop global warming, and also did nothing to make people become aware of it. With Gore feeling so passionate about this issue, it would be extremely frustrating to him that the government is not doing their part to help. This makes them a perfect target for his book in hopes that they will feel partially responsible for the issue for neglecting it. To help get his message to stick, Gore places smaller arguments in the text to support the central argument that global warming is in fact a big deal. For example, one argument is that we need the people of Earth to come together and battle this issue as a team, although it starts with one person making a difference. A common misconception is that just one person changing their lifestyle to reduce the size of their carbon footprint will do nothing in the bigger picture. But it has to start somewhere doesn’t it? Gore is very passionate about this argument, and even includes a section at the end of his book, stating multiple things that just one person can do to help eliminate the climate crisis. One of the most important pieces of advice that Gore gives in this section is simply “educate our selves and others” (pg. 305) on global warming. The more people that become educated and passionate towards this issue, the easier it will be to take it down. Gore also states that if the world is to work together as a whole (which is what we will need to happen for this crisis to be averted) it will help teach people to put our differences aside and work towards the greater good. He goes on to say that if humankind began to function like this, it would give us the moral capacity to take on other challenges, such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, and other pandemics affecting the world.


     Many people all around the world know of Gore, seeing as how he was Vice President to Clinton, and a presidential candidate in the elections of 2000. Being this widely known establishes some general credibility. People see presidential candidates as well educated leaders; therefore more people are likely to listen to what they have to say. This is known as ethos, and although Gore does not use this technique directly in his book, it is implied because he is the author. Being a former presidential candidate could help or hurt Gore in hopes that all will adopt his message. Presidential candidates often have a lot of critics, and people who dislike them because of the policies they plan to put in place. This means that many people will not even give Gore’s book a chance due to disliking him. But needless to say those who voted for him would eat this message up, and be more inclined to believe everything Gore is saying. This underlying ethos is combined with Gores personal experience in the matter to establish more credibility as an author. Gore has always been very interested in the environment, and decided to devote his entire professional life to environmental studies (after the election). He has traveled to many different parts of the world as well to conduct studies on other ecosystems. Being an environmentalist gives Gore logical credibility, pair that up with the general credibility I mentioned before, and that makes for a believable author.


       Gore defines global warming as an increase in climate (oceanic and atmospheric temperature) due to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, claiming that humankind is the root of the problem (the reason greenhouse gas emissions are rising). To further clarify, the greenhouse effect is defined as “The warming of the Earth's atmosphere that is caused by air pollution ◊The greenhouse effect occurs when warmth from the sun is trapped in the Earth's atmosphere by a layer of gases (such as carbon dioxide) and water vapor.” (learnersdictionary.com) The Earth’s temperature is noticeably increasing due to the huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, Methane, and Nitrous-Oxide). Sadly, we have no one to blame but ourselves for this increase in gas emissions because of the deadly combination of technological advancement, and increase in population. Every person has a carbon footprint, all depending on what your daily routine consists of. One who chooses to turn the lights of when they leave the room will have a smaller carbon footprint then those of us who just get lazy, and those who choose to carpool leave a smaller carbon footprint than those who don’t. With population increasing worldwide, there are more and more carbon footprints that we need to worry about, all adding up the inconvenient truth that is global warming. This is an issue that we face everyday, but many of us choose to do nothing about it. If we continue to act this way, well, lets just say Earth will not have much of a future…


     Gore analyzes this problem further to show that global warming is causing an increase in number and severity of natural disasters. He uses scientific charts to show that these disasters have been becoming more destructive in the last decade, and compares it to the increase in global warming showing a direct correlation. One chart demonstrates the total economic losses from great weather and flood catastrophes, showing that in the last decade almost 750 billion dollars in damage has been done, compared to the decade before that when damages only tolled up to about 290 billion (pg. 102). The excessive amount of heat in the atmosphere is causing strange patterns in weather that are not what we would call normal, and the same goes for the ocean as well. Studies have shown that with an increase in water temperature, hurricanes and other ocean storms show a similar increase in the storm’s moisture content and wind velocity, causing the storms to become much more deadly (as demonstrated by Hurricane Katrina). Many more people are being affected by storms like this because there is a greater quantity of storms, and they prove to be getting worse. In 2004 the record for number of tornadoes in the United States was shattered. Not only is global warming affecting these types of weather patterns, but more fires are also breaking out in dry parts of the world due to excessive heat in the atmosphere. Rise in atmospheric temperatures is causing bodies of water to evaporate as well, resulting in a shortage in drinking water. Through the heavy use of logos it is easy to see that global warming has a much larger affect on us than just a rise in temperature, proving Gores point that it is imperative that we do something about this threat before it is too late.


     This is one of the touchiest issues in the world today, so Gore needed to reach out to people on an emotional level in order for people to adopt his beliefs. Many people choose not to believe that it is real so that they do not have to adjust their lifestyles. That is why it is crucial that Gore uses rhetorical techniques to convince the audience of the true importance of the subject at hand. One technique that Gore really hits hard on is pathos, or appealing to the reader’s emotions. He does this in many different ways throughout the book. For example, Gore shows various images of wildlife and ecosystems being negatively affected by global warming. One that hit especially hard for me was a picture of a polar bear trapped on a floating piece of ice, as it watches it’s home melt away slowly. All sorts of species are facing a dramatic decrease in population worldwide, especially those who live in arctic or oceanic ecosystems. Animals are innocent, and people often have a soft spot in their heart for them. Gore knows this and is utilizing it to the fullest; he even finds pictures where the animals look sad as crazy as it sounds. I don’t know about you, but when I see a picture of a sad penguin watching his winter wonderland turn to slush, it really gets to me. Not only does Gore use pictures of animals to get to people, but he also uses pictures of natural disasters, and the devastation that they leave behind. Pictures of homes destroyed, and thousands of people left with nowhere to live, but that’s only if they were lucky enough to survive. Many of us have seen images like this, with the coverage of Hurricane Katrina, or the deadly tsunamis that hit the Fiji islands. It really gets you thinking… “What if that was me?” Images like these often make people want to help those suffering. Needless to say, these images take a huge toll on our emotions. Gore uses both types of images to create these sad feelings, in hopes that people will see the devastation due to global warming, and want to stop it that much more.


     Possibly the most prominent of the rhetorical techniques used in this book would be logos, to show direct correlations between global warming and things negatively affecting our Earth. Gore presents countless charts of data and scientific studies promoting his case. Many of these charts show the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere (see pgs. 36, and 66). Gore even did a case study on a professor Roger Revelle who spent very much time studying CO2 emissions. Revelle was one of the first to notice the increases in CO2 emissions, and he was on to something. Gore goes on to explain, “He proposed and designed a bold new scientific experiment: to collect samples of the CO2 concentrations high in the Earth’s atmosphere from multiple locations every day for many years into the future.” (Pg. 38) This experiments outcome shows the type of charts that Gore uses to analyze CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere in this book. Gore also shows many different charts showing temperature increase in the past few decades (see pgs. 64, 72, and 78). These charts follow a very similar pattern as those measuring CO2 levels; Gore explains that they are directly correlated. Both types of charts show that in the last decade the numbers have skyrocketed. Temperatures and CO2 emissions are increasing at a much more rapid rate than ever before. These charts help very much in supporting Gore’s claim, that global warming is indeed getting worse. After all, you cannot argue with statistics and graphical evidence. He shows other things, such as pictures of glaciers shrinking over the past decades, as well as lakes drying up. It is easy to tell in the pictures taken that in the most recent years (the ones where temperature and CO2 increased the most) have taken the biggest toll on the glaciers or lakes. Gore makes a point of this and relates it back to his charts, proving that global warming is taking effect on parts of our Earth. The use of logical evidence and scientific data to support a point is crucial in getting people to believe you. Gore utilizes the technique of logos very well in this book, and it is a technique that you see repeat throughout the whole thing.


     All in all, Gore presents several different rhetorical arguments in the text to support his central argument that global warming is indeed getting worse. He argues that we are the cause, and we need to be the end of it as well. Gore also shows countless negative impacts of global warming, such as ice melt, increase in natural disasters, and species dying out. Each of these arguments are supported using rhetorical techniques such as pathos, ethos, and logos. He presents logical evidence showing that the threat is real, as well as tugs at your heartstrings showing pictures of newly endangered species. This all comes together as one strong argument that something must be done about this up and coming climate crisis. A powerful message, and a good read, Gores book “An Inconvenient Truth” is worth reading no matter who you are.


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