World Usability Day presentation
Yin Yang of Design and Anthropology

An Inconvenient Truth and information design

Last night, Mohammed and I watched Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" on DVD. It is a very disturbing look at the environmental impacts of our way life, but more importantly it is about the lack of political will in Washington to change the our behaviors in spite of the overwhelming evidence of the global warming.

What was particularly compelling was the role of information design in his presentation. The arguments were made with performative uses of charts, graphs, tables, and cool animations by Matt Groening of the Simpson's fame. There is this one point in which Gore shows the graph of the amount  of CO2 in the enviroment for the past 650K years and the relative temperatures at the time. He then gets on a lift and shows how the amount of CO2 in the environment in 2050 will be off the charts literary. He leaves you to imagine what the temperature will be.

What he considers his frustration is that he as spent decades making sure his message is clear, yet people seem to not hear it. Because of the American people's lack of will, the government has not responded appropriately.

One of the most shocking charts was that of the milege standards for automobiles in Europe, Japan, China, Australia, and the US. The US standards are the lowest in the world, lower than than of China. And the standards that California wants to put in place for 2011 are equal to what exists in China today. Now because of the low emission standards, US manufacters cannot sell US cars in other countries without making modifications. And we wonder why Ford and GM are failing, again.

Gore ends with a call for the American people to develop the will to address the environment. He mentions the other "inconvenient truths" that we as a people have overcomed: racial inequality and slavery, gender inequality, and environmentally, the hole in the Ozone layer.

If only he had been president for the past 6 years.


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