Social media and climate change: How communities can change the course of history
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Al Gore, the former vice-president of the United States and a force behind the climate change debate and the film An Inconvenient Truth, has just announced a 24- hour worldwide presentation called “24-Hours of Reality” to combat the country’s growing disbelief that man’s actions are dramatically shaping the planet’s climate. Gore aims to enlist the power of social media to this end stating on the website:
“The climate deniers may have millions of dollars to spend, but we have a powerful advantage. We have reality.”
In a dramatic demonstration of how social media can be used to engage a global community, the project is reaching out to volunteers asking them to donate their Facebook and Twitter accounts for a few days to enlist their community’s support for climate change awareness.
The architecture of the approach is very interesting. The project itself will move through every time zone, enlisting the support of social media users who volunteer their accounts to spread awareness of climate change amongst their friends and family. In the course of 24 hours, such an approach can effectively create an awareness wave that sweeps around the globe, enlisting unprecedented engagement and support around the debate. Over 800,000 people have already volunteered their social media accounts and Climate Reality on Facebook has over 120,000 likes.
The approach taken by the project is simple. They ask for three steps of engagement. Firstly, commit to watch the 24 hours of reality event for which you RSVP on Facebook. Secondly, you plan a viewing party with your friends, co-workers or neighbors (the project site provides a platform through which to easily invite and register guests). Thirdly, you donate your social network, and specifically your tweets and Facebook status updates, to the Climate Reality Project. Donors will still be able to tweet and post as normal and permission can be revoked at any time.
The Climate Reality Project serves a powerful demonstration of how social media now allows individuals to not just volunteer their own interest, time or dollars towards a cause that’s meaningful to them, but also their entire community. It provides a powerful opportunity to be a part of something larger than yourself, and to play an active role in what could be a historic shift in perception. And, yet again, social media is poised to play a powerful contributory role in a shift in thinking and behavior that can help build a better world.
Do you believe social media is an effective way to educate people about climate change? Would you be willing to volunteer your social networks for a cause you care about?