Thursday, March 20, 2008

How to Misrepresent a Process

Carbon trading has been a topic of discussion in Australia recently, and everywhere else. An issue in Australia has been the predominance of coal powered electricity generation. These facilities will be hit hard by the new greenhouse gas economy, and have to prepare for change.
However, what is peeving me is the representation of the power plants by the media, even good old Aunty herself, the ABC. Every time they take a camera shot over a power plant (VOD Cast for 21st March 2008), they focus on the large concrete towers that emit steam, not CO2. The towers are a part of the water reclamation process. They conveniently emit lots of billowing clouds of water condensate that looks like smoke, and so are a lightning rod for emotive media representation of the power generation process.

It's probably just an honest mistake, as the camera views of the billowing towers are impressive, but it shows that such misinformation via visual misrepresentation can give you a completely inaccurate view of a process. In effect, they chose the wrong icon to represent the activity, and now some people are going to have the wrong idea about the process of electricity generation.

BTW, the dangerous stuff comes out of the skinny chimneys nearby. :-)


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