Politicians are some of the most passionate speakers, but their declarations are most frequently concerned with economics or politics. However, Davis Guggenheim’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, presents one politician in a quite unusual light. In this documentary, Al Gore, a former Vice President of the United States, is represented not as a politician but as an ardent fighter for nature’s rights. Gore employs each of the pillars of the rhetorical triangle to persuade the audience that climate change is real. The use of ethos, logos, and pathos by Gore is so convincing that, in the end, it seems that no one could remain untouched by the speaker.
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Probably the brightest and most memorable aspects of Gore’s speech are concerned with pathos. The environmentalist mentions several touching stories from his own life, which creates an immediate emotional response. Personally, I was deeply touched by three things that Gore shared about his family life. The first issue was when the speaker explained how he had become involved in the idea of preserving the environment.
His son was injured in an accident, and Gore almost lost him. As he admits, that event turned his world around (An Inconvenient Truth). It was then when he asked himself how he should spend his time on Earth. It was also then that he realized that people were taking for granted precious things which were in danger of disappearing. Another appeal to emotion was the description of Gore’s childhood and the warmth with which he spoke of the times he had spent at the farm as a child.
In that revelation, it was possible to see the birth of Gore as a nature lover. Finally, there was also a tragic story of his sister’s death, which was a bright example of the appeal to emotion. Gore explained that his sister had died of lung cancer and that his father stopped growing tobacco after her death (An Inconvenient Truth). That was also an indication of Gore’s attitude towards nature and climate change since he explained the realization of the major environmental issues through a personal story.
Another mode of persuasion employed by Gore is ethos, which accounts for the speaker’s credibility. There are many examples of ethos in the film, the major one being Gore’s past political activity. At the very beginning, he says that he “was in politics for a long time” and adds that he is proud of his service (An Inconvenient Truth). This statement is supported by the depiction of various interviews, meetings at the international level, and communication with scientists that Gore has performed.
One of the brightest examples of Gore’s ethos is his meeting with Chinese scientists who not only answer his questions but also seem genuinely interested in his ideas of how the environment can be saved. One more appeal to ethics, however ironic it may sound, in the way, George Bush, Gore’s political rival, speaks of him: “This guy is so far off on the environmental extremes! We’ll be up to our necks in owls and out of work for every American” (An Inconvenient Truth). Calling him an environmental extremist means that Bush admits that Gore’s activity on protecting the environment is vast and significant. Thus, the credibility and authority of Gore are reflected through his leadership skills, the variety of ways in which his opinions are accepted, and through his opponent’s fear of Gore’s ideas.
The last but not least persuasion mode represented by Gore is logos. The appeal to logic is reflected in numerous examples and statistics. Gore does everything possible to explain to the audience that the problem of climate change is highly serious and that devastating outcome of people’s present activity are inevitable. The most impressive illustrations of the threat that the planet faces include the analysis of carbon dioxide levels, effects of global warming, CO2 concentration, and ocean temperature (An Inconvenient Truth).
Gore explains that burning forests is not less dangerous than cutting them down and that the phenomenon of “displaced cities” is becoming less and less rare (An Inconvenient Truth). It was very sad to learn that the new studies indicate that some polar bears have drowned because they had to swim for too long before they could find ice. The opening and closing remarks of the movie contain compelling reasons to care about the planet.
Moreover, Gore offers specific details on how each person can help solve the climate crisis. For instance, he suggests recycling, reducing carbon emissions, using energy-efficient appliances, and riding a bicycle instead of driving a car. Thus, the appeal to logic is reflected not only through offering data on people’s ill-treatment of nature but also by suggesting how they can improve the situation.
The movie An Inconvenient Truth is not only an ardent call to stop destroying Earth but also a representation of the three pillars of the rhetorical triangle as used by Al Gore. The speaker employs logos, ethos, and pathos to persuade the audience that the problem of climate change is too serious to neglect it. Gore’s credibility, his ability to create an emotional response, and the use of facts and reason make the film a perfect method of convincing people to stop ruining the world and start thinking of what they will leave to their children.
An Inconvenient Truth. Directed by Davis Guggenheim, performance by Al Gore, Paramount Classics, 2006.