Documentary: the weapon of choice for both sides of the climate change debate
Sindelar, Hugo Richard, IV
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The climate change debate has been a hot button issue in the U.S. for at least the last decade. Both sides of the debate have used documentary film as a 'weapon' to help create support for their side of the debate. In this paper, I examine two documentaries that support climate change, An Inconvenient Truth and Before the Flood, and two documentaries that deny climate change, Cool It and Climate Hustle. How do these documentaries present the actual science of climate change? Documentaries give filmmakers wide latitude in the presentation of facts, and both sides of the climate change debate have used them hoping to influence public opinion. In their efforts to change minds, the filmmakers often misrepresent the science, which I argue can cause credibility issues for the whole scientific community. Current research also shows that documentaries might not be an effective means of changing opinions, but rather are best suited for galvanizing action from supporters on an issue. Researchers also suggest that the general public looks to documentary content for both information and entertainment. My thesis films, a virtual tour of the Reynolds Creek watershed, aim to make dense peer-reviewed science more relatable through animations and entertaining narration. The whole library of climate change documentaries and science films may not affect an individual person's opinion who is watching a single film, but it appears, it is slowly shifting the American and worldwide discourse on the topic, strengthening public belief and support of the issue. My hope is that my thesis films add a small piece to the larger puzzle of climate change science communication.
Organic carbon, Inorganic carbon, Predicting soil thickness, Core sites and Tracking snow are films and Reynold's Creek: virtual tour is a website that are all part of the student's thesis project.