by Ali Berman
Categories: People
Tags: .

Many people wonder if documentaries really make a difference. Well, Grant Jacobsen, assistant professor at the University of Oregan, decided to find out.

He studied the the effect “An Inconvenient Truth” had on viewers. As it turns out, watching the film really does make you a better environmentalist. (At least, for a little while.) People who lived within ten miles of a movie theater that was playing the award winning documentary purchased 50% more carbon offsets than those who lived farther away. From that data one might infer that people also might have made other less calculable decisions as well like riding a bike instead of driving.

Sadly, the effect had a shelf life. One year after the film made its debut, the number of people buying carbon offsets in the areas the film had played went back down to normal.

Still, this gives hope that other well received documentaries such as Super Size Me, Food Inc. and The Cove made a difference in their time. Also, while people may have stopped buying carbon offsets, perhaps they still took action in other ways to make a difference.

Has a documentary ever inspired you to change your behavior?

Via AOL News

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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  • Jan

    Al Gore is an inspiration. I was inspired by his book Earth In The Balance year ago and still am. It is no surprise that An Inconvenient Truth was also an inspiration to many. Unfortunately, propaganda from interests contrary to its message have infiltrated in order to dampen the effect. However, reality is proving quickly that this documentary will stand the test of time.

    • Christine

      Gore = meat-eating hypocrite

      • herwin

        yeah, he did leave out the meat=bad part because that was TOO inconvenient and most of all, you cant make money with it, only make enemies. The most useles sceme he came up with is pushing for yet another subdomain on the internet, the .eco subdomain. That, my friend, would be very big busines, and only a mayor spindoctor could actually sell these eco subdomains as “good for the environment.”

  • Animals_deserve_rights

    being an enviromentalist doesnt mean you have to be a vegetarian. I could see if he was an animal rights activist but give the guy a break. Just because he eats meat doesnt make him satan. And Im a vegetarian!!! Sometime you hardcore veg/vegans give the rest of us a bad rap. Calm down for christ sake. Educate, yes! Annoy and push away, NO!

    • Christine

      Given that animal agriculture is the #1 cause of global warming (See 2006 U.N. FAO Report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow”), not to mention all the water use/pollution, deforestation, and the sheer amount of waste in converting plant calories into meat/egg/dairy calories, I’d say that you are dead wrong.

      If you eat animal products you’re no environmentalist. Gore is a fool