This Is Climate Change will educate, encourage, and empower individuals to take a stand against climate change.
Climate change can no longer be seen as an opinion; it is scientific fact, and all of the data is pointing to the urgency of the situation.
My proposal is that a campaign is started to truly expose the devastating effects that climate change is having on the planet. This campaign will span across all forms of media, encouraging nonprofits, businesses, governments, and institutions to join together as part of a coalition. Individuals will also be encouraged to take part and share the impacts of that the climate has had on them. Lastly, the campaign will encourage others to learn more about the issue and its solutions. A large portion of the campaign will be dedicated to highlighting the current effects of climate change, and painting a picture of what may come to be if no action is taken.
Scientists, researchers, and organizations will be encouraged to share photos, videos, and articles that highlight the effects of a warmer client. These mediums will be incredibly impactful; images that people will not be able to simply ignore (polar bears searching for ice floats, interviews with locals impacted by sea level rise). Individuals can document the impact that climate change has had on them. Businesses and governments can pledge their actions to mitigate their effects on the climate, and encourage individuals to adopt simple lifestyle changes.
The proposal will be backed by supportive research and studies from members of the coalition. Secondly, individuals must be shown that even their small daily changes can add up and have a formidable impact. Lastly, individuals must be encouraged to make these changes, and to expect the same out of governments. Reaching objectives from the campaign, such as action from The White House or other government bodies, will be the end-goal. The mission of the campaign is to no longer make climate change a debate, and to spark action with real, tangible, and long-lasting results.
What actions do you propose?
Climate change has been an increasing threat to our planet, wildlife, and humanity as overall temperatures continue to increase. In the United States, along with other countries, there is a persistent resistance to accepting climate change as fact. In an August 2014 poll by Pew Research Center, only 61% of Americans believed that there is solid evidence that the earth has been warming. Even worse, only 48% believed that it is a major threat to society. (Pew Research Center 2014) The goal of this campaign is to change this perception globally. Once this has been addressed, a push for behavior change can then be implemented.
The coalition of scientists, NGOs, institutions, and governments will provide a solid scientific foundation for the campaign. A large part of the skepticism toward climate change is a lack of education. People are likely to focus on local weather patterns, instead of the global climate. By having strong scientific evidence, the campaign will educate the public on the issue, setting the stage for the impactful visuals to follow.
To really make a difference in society, it is imperative that the project reaches all different walks of life. For sharing purposes, social media will be a large part of the project. Utilizing the hashtag of #ThisIsClimateChange on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook will encourage users to further investigate the campaign and to post their own photos and stories.
In addition, creative outlets will have a great impact. Videos, photographs, and artwork will be encouraged. Documentaries focused around the subject can make a huge impact, showing audiences the impact of climate change now and in the future. Articles and long-form essays will reach other audiences, and can provide further background on the subject. Impactful photographs of bleached coral, flooding, melting glaciers, etc. can show sheltered audiences the real result of a changing climate. Specifically, comparison photos over time can paint a startling picture of what may come in the future.
Individuals can submit their own stories about the impact that climate change has had on them. From residents of a town hit by a historic storm, to scientists studying the effects of temperature rise on glaciers, to residents of an island that is being swallowed up by the sea, these individuals will have different stories, but connected by the theme that they have been impacted by a warmer climate.
Paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other artistic mediums can also showcase what the future may hold. By creating pieces of artwork that show the potential future we’re heading toward, many may begin to really question why more assertive actions haven’t been implemented. Eye-catching street art can really stop people in their tracks and cause them to pause for a moment to think about the issue.
Submissions can be live-posted on the This Is Climate Change website, along with feature stories and interactive mediums. The website will be a central place for all campaign material and information, along with a showcase of supporting partners and sponsors. When a visitor lands on the homepage, they will be greeted with an engaging interactive of one tile showcasing a submission (ex: a video of a little girl explaining how her family's farm in Africa is being affected by drought). Once the video is done playing, the interactive will zoom out to show dozens of tiles, including blog links, photographs, essays, and videos. The user can then click on a tile to view the selection, or visit other sections of the website.
This interactive website will encourage visitors to learn more about the effects of climate change, and will really be able to see how it is impacting individuals of all walks of life. This varied spectrum will appeal to a wide variety of audiences: species heading to extinction will click with animal lovers/conservationists, ocean acidification will resonate with lovers of the sea, and family farms being closed due to drought will strike a chord with farmers.
Information for living a more eco-friendly life and how to reduce one’s carbon footprint will be hosted on the site, along with tips for businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact. The website will really encourage people to learn more about the issue, and how they can play a role in stopping it. For example, petitions will be posted calling for stronger government actions or a change in business practices, or protection of a vital species.
The campaign website will also be instrumental in this, offering energy efficient buying guides, links to resources such as a carbon footprint calculator, and every tips to make more ecofriendly choices. Interactive worksheets and journals will be available, where participants can track their changes and see how they add up. Events and meetups can also be scheduled on the website, such as a local Earth Day meetup where participants can pick a place and time to pick up trash in their community, or a recycling day at the local elementary school. The website will allow for tracking of all the impacts, showing stakeholders how much of an impact the campaign had.
Who will take these actions?
The campaign will be centered around a network of players. Nonprofits, businesses, institutions, government, and individuals will be encouraged to participate in the coalition, giving the project a well-rounded view of the impact of climate change to different facets of society. Nonprofits and members of the scientific community can lead the charge with the announcement of the campaign, encouraging their supporters to get involved.
Everyone will be encouraged to submit their stories and media to the campaign, as different viewpoints will really showcase how universal climate change is.
Where will these actions be taken?
Everywhere. From city sidewalks, to classrooms, to the middle of jungle, individuals can participate in the cause. It is such a versatile campaign that anyone, anywhere can join. The more places it takes place, the higher the audience reach, and this is where social media can help take the campaign viral, giving it endless boundaries.
As stated previously, the website will act as a central hub to track the changes, and locations can be added to submissions to map out where the actions are being taken.
How will these actions have a high impact in addressing climate change?
They will really show people what climate change has begun to do, and what a warming climate has the potential to do in the future. By separating the campaign from politics, people will begin to see the issue in a different light. It’s easy to ignore a problem if you can’t see its impacts first hand. Even if you do, the bystander effect often comes into play and you leave it up to someone else to handle it. Also, when a majority is standing up for a cause, governments and firms can no longer ignore the problem or only offer miniscule changes; they will need to take the problem seriously and invest in its solution.
Lifestyle changes will be measurable. By encouraging the audience to track their carbon footprint, lower their GHG emissions, and make more eco-friendly choices in their daily lives, the campaign will encourage people to consider the environment in their everyday decision-making.
What are other key benefits?
The project empowers people from all walks of life, all corners of the globe to get involved in this movement and to help be a part of the solution. It unites environment lovers together with no strings to politics or the like. It will engage individuals, but also encourage them to share with others. Large businesses can be role models for smaller ones, encouraging leaders in the field to take the environmental implications of every decision very seriously. Instead of competing with one another, companies can stand united showing that the environment is important to them.
What are the proposal’s costs?
As with any campaign to change attitudes and behaviors toward climate change, there will likely be resistance from climate deniers. To mitigate this threat, having a robust database of research, studies, and data from reliable sources will be necessary.
The financial costs of the campaign will be mainly be marketing costs. An interactive and highly-functioning website will be key. In addition, staff members will be required to handle press inquiries, social media, and general public outreach.
Short term: First, attitudes toward climate change must be altered. Understanding what climate change is, why it is happening, and how to stop it are vital in order to then spark behavior changes. Lifestyle and social changes will occur gradually.
Medium term: Individuals will likely rely on renewable energy and will outweigh the costs of ecofriendly products (more expensive, less convenient to buy, etc.) as less than the benefits, resulting in a sustainable change in consumer buying habits. Governments will be in the midst of focusing on renewable energy and providing additional resources to protect the environment. Businesses will be continuously altering their practices to be more ecofriendly, encouraging customers to choose them.
Long term: Although society will likely wonder why climate change was a debate for so long, they will be well-established in their ecofriendly habits. The environment will be seen as a precious resource that needs to be protected and preserved. It will no longer be harmed for recreational or financial reasons, and will be seen as a treasured resource.
Pew Research Center - August 2014 Study on Americans perception of climate change
Public Religion 2014 Surveyhttp://publicreligion.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2014-Climate-Change-FINAL1.pdf