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The usefulness of climate change films

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kathryn Manzo



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Climate change films are relevant to geographers working in sub-disciplines, such as environmental management, climate science and visual studies. This paper assesses the usefulness of climate change films in light ofongoing debates in science communication and climate change communication about the best-known and most popular movies. Using a handful of English-language films as a sample, the paper asks how the usefulness ofclimate change films is to be determined if not by sole reference to the accuracy or truthfulness of factual information. The paper demonstrates that all types of films (from award-winning science documentaries to Hollywoodblockbusters) have been debated and critiqued, especially in regard to scientific verisimilitude and image integrity. Usefulness is therefore not a matter of film type. Nor is it simply a matter of accuracy, because filmscontaining inaccuracies have their supporters as well. The paper evaluates usefulness in terms of the work that climate change films do and the methods they use. I argue that the two key criteria for determining usefulnessare teachability and integrity. In conclusion, I reinforce calls to detach the issue of usefulness from accurate science per se. Useful films are educative, truthful and trustworthy, in ways not always intended by filmmakers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Manzo K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geoforum

Year: 2017

Volume: 84

Pages: 88-94

Print publication date: 01/08/2017

Online publication date: 01/08/2017

Acceptance date: 07/06/2017

Date deposited: 23/06/2017

ISSN (print): 0016-7185

ISSN (electronic): 1872-9398

Publisher: Pergamon Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2017.06.006


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