Posts Tagged ‘green messaging’

Once in a while, I decide to disclose some moments of weakness along my greener path. Yes, I still own a car. Yes, I still drive at times when I could otherwise bike, or take public transportation. Yes, I still buy too much food, too often. Yes, I give into the dryer for small to medium laundry items. Yes, I forget to turn off the power strip, on a regular basis. Yes, I engage into all these reprehensible behaviors, and then report on them, publicly on this blog. 

I have my reasons. I believe there is some redeeming value in being  real, and in writing out loud what others prefer to keep in the privacy of their minds. And to not apologize for it. After all, this is why I started La Marguerite blog, to provide a place for people to be human, not super green heroes. ‘Talk my language, and my struggles, and then, maybe I will listen to you, and change a bit.’ That’s been my stance up to now. 

Readers’ reactions to my environmental shortcomings tend to be on the supportive end. Some feel sorry for me, for being so hard on myself, and beg me instead to appreciate all my progress. Others start sharing stories of their own, and how we are all in this together. Those are music to my eyes, especially the ones vouching for the transformative power of my confessions. Then comes a third category. The hard core greenies, who admonish me for not getting my act together faster. ‘You would bring so much more to the world’, they write, ‘if you just turned 100% green overnight. Get rid of your car, will you?’

Could the greenies be right? I wonder. I have come across many tales of green gods and goddesses. While I find those interesting, I have a hard time relating to so much perfection. And so, I ask you the question. What kind of stories do you find most inspiring? Which ones have caused you to make real changes?

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Bugs, sex, and Isabella Rossellini. That’s ‘Green Porno‘, a series of enthralling 1’ videos meant for mobile use, acted and directed by Isabella. The P word did get my attention and guaranteed the magical one click. Once in, Isabella’s voice, humor, and clever acting kept me there. One minute is the perfect length, enough time to tell a story, but not too long to lose me. The story itself is very simple, and makes me curious enough – how do they do it? -, that I want to hear the end. Perfect for these moments stuck on the train, when I am looking for easy entertainment.

This is what we should be thinking about, when developing a climate fight campaign.

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First let me share this video with you:

Now, let me tell you what it did for me. All the images of disasters, melting ice, floods, tornadoes, dead trees: nothing. I have become immune to those images. The one thing that got me a bit: Al Gore’s plea at the end. The part about the grandchildren asking a question, and the two answers. I don’t want to be in the camp of the bystanders.

How about you?

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In the scary global warming video category, here is one more, just released today on Youtube, to announce ‘Six Degrees Could Change the World‘, an upcoming show on National Geographic Channel:

You mean, 6 degrees, that’s all it will, would take, to wipe out the planet? This is probably one of the scariest numbers I have heard about global warming. From a non scientist, average citizen perspective.

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Last night, Prad and I attended a fascinating presentation on the theme of ‘A Scoop in Time: Global Warming and the Press‘. Organized by E2, the event gathered a panel of environmental journalist luminaries, including Felicity Barringer from the New York Times, Chip Giller from Grist, and Peter Waldman, a recent export from the Wall Street Journal and now at Portfolio magazine. This was a timely talk given some of the discussions I have been participating in lately on DotEarth, the New York Times‘ environmental blog led by Andrew Revkin.

My main take away from the discussion were the difficulties facing journalists trying to report on the topic. The first point made by Felicity Barringer was the lack of immediacy of global warming. As Chip Giller put it, the thing oozes over time. Since the press thrives on news, this in itself makes it very hard to break global warming stories. There is also a lack of personal relevance. On the list of priorities in people’s mind, global warming comes way behind the economy, health care and immigration. This makes it hard for environmental writers to compete with writers from other desks, when the editor needs to decide which stories are going to make it in. Peter Waldman brought up the systemic nature of the problem, and the lack of easily identifiable perpetrator, as another source of relative low newsworthiness. All three of these hurdles are inherent to the topic of global warming.

The panelists confirmed some of the earlier research I discussed earlier in this blog, particularly Daniel Gilbert‘s theory, that stresses the need for the threat to have a human face, and be present and immediate, in order for it to trigger a human response. There is also Michael Oppenheimer‘s research on the need to make global warming as personally relevant as possible. According to Chip Giller, part of the reason Grist has been so successful has been their strategy of engaging their readers around friendly topics such as fashion, recycling, or practical green tips. All panelists agreed that the environmentalist movement has failed at rallying the public, largely because of its inability to meet people’s mindsets.

To this, I would like to add Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs. If I am worried about the recession and engulfed by a fear of losing my job, and of having no health care, I am going to naturally gravitate towards stories that address those immediate concerns, not news about ice melting in the Arctic, and possible flooding five, ten years from now. I am going to look for clues in the news that can answer my present needs for personal safety.

Last, Peter Waldman talked at length about the unrepairable damage from extensive misinformation campaigns over the last ten years. That the media are just now starting to come around to agree on the reality of climate change, cannot undo the negative effect misinformation has had on the public conscience and consequently, environmental U.S. policy.

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