Some graphics from An Inconvenient Truth have been posted to Flickr. Copyright has most certainly been violated here but I suspect Gore would prefer the message spreads and perhaps this will inspire more folks to check out the movie.
This graph showing a sharp rise in CO2 has generated a lot of controversy, especially because of the extrapolation of future CO2 levels. For an excellent analysis of the controversy and a discussion about how visualization approaches such as Gore’s slideshow can be used to turn complex data into information, look no further than David Womack’s excellent article: Seeing is believing: Information visualization and the debate over global warming.
Excepted from the above:
Information visualization is able to communicate the intricacies of global warming in a way no other discipline can. Its messages can be immediate and powerful, without sacrificing the level of detail necessary to represent the complex subject accurately. Not only is information visualization helping scientists and politicians communicate with the public, it is a primary tool for scientific study, and for the study of science itself. It is particularly telling that even the medium of film could not compete with the power of these visualizations. According to “An Inconvenient Truth” director Davis Guggenheim, “I thought, a film about a slide show? A filmed lecture? I don’t get it. And then I saw his slide show. The information in it is so powerful, and we all just felt like, what if we could give people a front-row seat to this.”
Wider adoption of visual analytics, while useful for scientific analysis and “misuseful” or easily manipulated for special interests, will at least stimulate wider debate and analysis by increasing the accessibility of data to society (see Gapminder). And this, I dare to believe, will lead to good things.