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?