How to Change the World

There’s a new documentary coming out which focuses on the use of “mindbombs” – meaning an image which can shock us into action – a phrase coined in the 1970s by Bob Hunter, co-founder of Greenpeace. How to Change the World explores how Greenpeace uses images like the ones above to get people’s attention about climate change and other urgent environmental issues. Here’s the trailer and an article from the Guardian about the film:

This got me thinking about how organisations in general use images to get a message across, and particularly the lovely photos companies use to fill up their Sustainability Reports. For example, take these images from BP’s 2014 Sustainability Report. Who know the oil business was so pretty!

Pipelines at the Sunrise Energy Project, an oil sands operation in Alberta, CanadaKwinana Refinery at sunset, Australia

For an academic take on the use of graphs and images in corporate reporting, here’s a really nice article by Hrasky in Accounting Forum. She suggests that “less sustainable companies” are more likely to “pursue legitimacy symbolically” i.e. there’s some soft-focus green-washing going on.

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