In the documentary A Sea Change, retired educator Sven Huseby travels the world examining the effects of ocean acidification on the worlds various marine ecosystems. Throughout the film, the focus remains on only the negative effects of the increasing ocean acidity, entirely ignoring any possible fixes and conveying a sense of helplessness to the viewer. However, as the film concludes, the rhetoric changes in favor of creating hope and giving the human race a call to action to save the world’s oceans from acidification.
The first major example of positive, hopeful rhetoric comes is the appearance of an eco-friendly foreign hotel that institutes a heating and cooling system that emits no carbon. Such as system drew on nearby ocean water in order to provide heat and air conditioning for the entire building without releasing any anthropogenic carbon. In the conversation between Sven and the hotel representation, the film makes clear that such technology could be used in many coastal areas in the United States of America, thereby giving Americans hope that they can implement such technologies to help save the oceans and spurring them to action.
Likewise, Sven visits a very windy area on the coast of Norway and meets with a pair of experts on wind energy. They discuss turbines that will convert the energy in the wind into clean energy used to power large areas. As with the hotel, the film makes a point of naming specific locations in the United States where such turbines could operate highly efficiently, once again using rhetoric that will spur Americans to take action in the hopes of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Finally, Sven visits the headquarters of the corporation Google, famous for its search engine. While receiving a tour of the grounds, the documentary prominently features the myriad arrays of solar panels. In addition, the conversation between Sven and his guide strongly emphasizes that the solar panels provide for one third of Google’s power consumption. This rhetoric strongly influences people to believe that by investing in solar panels themselves they can cut down on carbon dioxide emissions and therefore do their part to save the world’s oceans.
After implementing mostly despairing rhetoric through the majority of A Sea Change, the documentary changes to a style which inspires hope in the viewer. This hope coupled with the possible solutions the film provides to the carbon dioxide emission problem intends to spur the film’s viewers to action. Ideally, the ending would influence every viewer to do his or her utmost to reduce carbon emissions and save the oceans.
This is a nice summary of how the tone shifts throughout the film. What I think you’ve articulated, however, is the *intended* tone that the filmmakers were aiming for. A quick read through some of your peers’ posts suggests that whether or not the filmmakers achieved their desired effect is debatable. For example, you write that the solar panel scene “strongly influences people to believe that by investing in solar panels themselves they can cut down on carbon dioxide emissions.” That was its intention, but do you think all viewers would be convinced of this?