In a recent interview about the movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," Dave Roberts of Grist magazine, asked former Vice President Al Gore: "There's a lot of debate right now over the best way to communicate about global warming and get people motivated. Do you scare people or give them hope? What's the right mix?" Gore answered as follows:
I think the answer to that depends on where your audience's head is. In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality. And the Category 5 denial is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.
Over time that mix will change. As the country comes to more accept the reality of the crisis, there's going to be much more receptivity to a full-blown discussion of the solutions.
How should one interpret Gore's statement that it is "appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is." Is this a call for environmental activists to exaggerate or stretch the truth? Or merely an argument for emphasizing certain facts? I'd be curious what readers think.
UPDATE: Some commenters below speculate about my motives for this post. Contrary to the suggestion of Kieran and some of the others, this was not an effort to ridicule or disparage Gore — various selections from his book or earlier interviews would have better served that purpose. I was pointed to the quote by someone who thought that it was quite damning. Unconvinced, I was curious to see what readers of this blog made of the quote when presented in context.