Video Coming Soon!

In the past few weeks we have been working on developing a video to educate a broad audience about climate change. In the process we have looked at many exemplary videos and guides on making a good video. One of the most important aspects of making an effective video is understanding who your audience is and crafting a video specifically for them. The guide How to Make Videos that don’t Suck states that “even if you think your video will be great for everyone, there has to be a subset of ‘everyone’ who will especially like it”. I have found this to be especially true while making my video.

It has been somewhat of a challenge to target such a broad audience. The main issue with this is explaining the issue in a way that is accessible to those who already have a background on climate change while not losing or boring those who already understand the science behind it. The reason why some people don’t think climate change is real is because they don’t understand the science proving that it is indeed a thing and that humans are causing it. Therefore any video that attempts to have a big impact on how we act should attempt to explain some of the science behind climate change.

Recently the media has put a lot of emphasis on the president’s opinion and views on climate change. A quick twitter search quickly reveals many articles that talk about how Trump does not believe climate change is caused by humans and real. The articles range from strong critiques to comedic pieces. One of the most popular stories that comes up is an interview he had recently in Florida. In this interview he stated that he didn’t believe humans were the cause of climate change. If the president is openly denying climate change people are going to listen. Therefore it is now more important than ever before for people to speak out and actually act to make a difference.

It is hard to believe that the president of the United States, an Ivy-league educated adult is unable to comprehend the science behind climate change. Yet he denies it. He may be one of the few people with a background like this that still speaks against climate but he, and people like him are still part of the audience we have been trying to target. Therefore it is equally important to be shape the video for an audience with a very high level of education as well as a younger population that has been exposed to less education.

We hope you are all excited to see the video that is currently in the making. Once it is out please share it with your friends and family and help us reach out to as many people as possible.

The Snowball and Good Videos

Does bringing a snowball into congress in February mean that climate change is false? That is a question we will try to answer on today’s blog post. I’m glad to have you back today, let’s go ahead and dive into it.

James Inhofe is a senior United States senator from Oklahoma. Inhofe, a member of the Republican Party was also chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for several years. In 2012 Inhofe published the book, “The Greatest Hoax”. This book conveys his strong opinions about global warming and how it is not actually true. In February of 2015 Inhofe chose to use a prop in congress to convey his message. He brought a snowball. He then proceeded to use the snowball to communicate that global warming was false due to the fact that it was “unseasonably cold” outside and he could therefore bring a snowball into congress. Was his logic sound?

To answer this question we must first think about what the term global warming means. Most textbooks define this as an average increase in overall global temperature. As you can see this definition does not specify a specific time of year or a specific place on Earth. Both of these specifications are ones Senator Inhofe made when producing his snowball argument. Inhofe based his argument around the fact that it was snowing in Washington DC in February. I’m sure most people will agree that snowfall in that specific situation is somewhat unusual, and definitely unexpected. Regardless, one day of snow in this city, or even a couple, probably won’t do much to bring the average overall global temperature down. The fact that Inhofe was able to produce a snowball in congress on that day does not change the fact that in 2015, out of the 16 warmest recorded years on Earth, 15 of them were from the 21st century.

So the senator’s logic was pretty flawed. Luckily, he did “go viral” pretty quickly. The fact that such an educated bureaucrat made such a big mistake became material for dozens of satirical videos. To this day there are a lot of videos still circulating the media about this incident. Why did videos about this incident become so popular? In search for the answer I read Steve Stockman’s book, how to make videos that don’t suck. Most of the satirical pieces out there are videos, they are pretty funny, and are insanely popular. So they do not suck. One of Stockman’s first claims is that any video is a transaction between the viewer and the producer. A viewer will only watch the video if they are entertained. Luckily for people producing videos about this occurrence, a senator making an erroneous claim in front of congress and national television happens to be very entertaining in and of itself. Stockman next talks about audience and how it is important to know whom you are making the video for. Even though the videos making fun of this incident are easily available to most, the material of the video suggests that this was intended for people that care about the planet and know a little about global warming. Someone that has the same misgivings about global warming will probably not enjoy a video that is equally mocking them and the senator at the same time.

For anyone out there looking for a video that talks about the issue mentioned here and wants to see an example of a high quality video that talks about other climate change issues I would redirect you to this episode of the Colbert Report. This video follows most of the tips given by Stockman in his book like appropriate shot length, constantly changing the shot to keep the audience hooked, and having a hero.

That’s all for this week and thanks again for coming. Remember to follow me on twitter @ivan96cornish for more information about climate change and things happening on social media. See you in two weeks.

Earth Day and An Infographic

Hey and welcome back to this biweekly blog! Today I will be talking about to things that I have recently seen on the media relate to climate change. First we will talk about Earth Day and then about an Infographic.

A lot of people might not know what is celebrated on April 22. On that day 47 years ago the first Earth Day was celebrated. According to the Earth Day Network over 20 million Americans participated in the first celebration of this holiday by taking to the streets, auditoriums, or parks. This first celebration marked a revolutionary moment for the US, people from both parties and from all levels of social economic backgrounds rallied behind a common cause across the nation. By the end of this year the Environmental Protection Agency had been created and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts were passed. Since then Earth Day has been celebrated every year. AJ+ twitted a video about this year’s celebration, in it they stated that tens of thousands of scientists and supporters took to the streets in celebration of this event. The video included a video of Bill Nye “The science guy” addressing a huge crowd and rallying for a common cause. This video was not only shared by AJ+ but was also mentioned or shown on other platforms by other media sources such as Entertainment Weekly, Vox, and Today. Although this video cannot be described as something that went viral it is definitely one that circled the web. Something that might add to the popularity of this video is it’s authenticity. Unlike many clips we can find online this one was recorded live. We have Bill Nye talking about climate change and the answering questions live in front of a crowd. As mentioned in a selection of “Out on the Wire”, a comic book intended to teach the audience how to make a good podcast, things performed and recorded live are usually better because they sound more authentic. In comparison, video or audio clips that have been recorded many times and are then edited can lose their authenticity and sound to forced. This is especially true on shows or podcasts where the host and the guest have not interacted to plan what’s going to happen. This selection claims that this type of recording is better because you get to know the true personality of the person in the spotlight, not their rehearsed fourth take self.

This twit with the video, along with many others about Earth Day, must make us wonder how much impact the media has on activism. Although Malcolm Gladwell and others might argue that altruistic activity on social media is usually ineffective because it is passive and unorganized events such as the marches for science that took place across the US, we must wonder if this is really the case. As a whole the environmental movement may not be very organized and lack a figure head, but when tens of thousands get together at several locations across the nation it is clear that social media has done its work. Another way to see how much impact the media might have is by taking a quick look at AJ+’s twitter feed. On twitter they describe themselves as a platform that provides news for the connected generation and focuses on sharing human struggles and challenging the status quo. Their newsfeed currently includes twits on other topics such as international issues, police brutality, news about altruistic feats, and protests against rape and other human rights violations. They also have over half a million followers. This is to say that over half a million people will get AJ+’s twits on their newsfeed. This does not include the audience of the people that can retwit what AJ+ posts, like my twitter followers. If at least some in this vast audience take action from what they see then altruism in the media has worked.

When talking about ways the media shares news or ideas with us we rarely think of all the different ways that the media can actually get information to us. Most people might at first think that the only media sources for news are Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or their online newspaper. What is less obvious are the various different messaging applications through which friends and acquaintances can also share information with you. After having created my own infographic on climate change several weeks ago I was definitely surprised when someone shared a very effective infographic on the same topic through WhatsApp, a messaging application. The infographic is titled “20 datos para entender la drisis ecologica de la Tierra”. A small version of it can be found at the bottom of this post, a full view can be found on my twitter newsfeed @ivan96cornish. Although the infographic does not mention where it was published originally published its sources include; World Resources Institute, Ideam, Efe, Organizacion Meteorologica Mundial, and Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente. What impacted me most about this infographic is that although the topic is Earth’s environmental crisis as a whole, the majority of the facts posted on the infographic can be linked to climate change. I also really appreciated the different aesthetic choices made by the author of this infographic compared to the ones I did. I personally really like this version and think that the balance of graphics and text is very effective. The largest image in the center does a great job at capturing the viewer’s attention and at making a point that we can really damage the Earth if we don’t act. Using only facts and statistics to drive home the message also proved to be a very effective.

Thanks for reading this biweekly blog. If you don’t follow me on twitter please make sure to do so @ivan96cornish for more information regarding climate change. Hope to see you in two weeks.

Climate Change and Its Social Media Revolution

Social media has been growing at a rapid rate in the most recent years. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are acquiring new members on a daily basis. These social spaces are now being used as a place to communicate and share ideas. Although it is evident that these social media outlets facilitate the spread of ideas it is still uncertain what effect this type of outreach has.

Malcolm Gladwell, writer for the New York Times, has shared his opinion that social media will not bring about the next revolution in his article, “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not be Tweeted”. Despite his opinion Gladwell has recognized that social media is not utterly useless in this regard because the “traditional relationship between political authority and popular will has been upended, making it easier for the powerless to collaborate, coordinate, and give voice to their concerns” (Gladwell). Gladwell’s main argument behind this claim is that social media allows for passive participation in altruism. An example of this behavior is people that will like altruistic articles, sign petitions, or share them with others but then don’t take any type of action.

A clear example of where I have seen this in the media is on Facebook and Twitter. There are thousands of posts and tweets about global warming and how we are causing harm to the environment by burning fossil fuels and emitting green house gases. All of these posts with the intention to spread information, to educate an audience, or to straight out protest are really valuable in the process of finding a solution. Regardless, if this is all that people do it is not enough. Without making changes in personal lifestyles or reaching out to local politicians and policy makers the posts on social media will probably not bring about a change. In this effect Gladwell’s theory that the next revolution will not happen because of social media is indeed correct.

Another reason why a revolution regarding climate change may not happen is because there are still people that don’t believe the scientific evidence supporting the fact that humans are causing climate change. This disbelief brings about many arguments both at a personal interaction and policy level. Jim Corder writes an article about rhetoric and argument that explains why arguments and specifically those revolving around climate change are a pretty big obstacle to overcome. In his article, “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love” he writes “that argument-that rhetoric itself-must begin, proceed, and end in love” (Corder). Corder argues that without love being able to persuade others of your convictions in a healthy way is not possible. This matter is extremely relevant to the controversy surrounding global warming. This issue has very strongly opinionated and vocal spokespeople on either side and they are both fixed on their own convictions. When met with strong resistance such as this people resort to attacking the person making the argument or the presentation of the argument instead of the argument itself. Corder writes that this is not the way to go about a disagreement, “Argument is not display or presentation, for our engagement in it, or identity with it, will out. When argument is taken as display or presentation, then it eventually becomes a matter of my poster against yours, with the prize to the slickest performance”. In this case the price is worthless, winning this type of discussion will do nothing towards eradicating climate change. Going through different tweets and other posts regarding this issue I have noticed that both sides are guilty of attacking and ridiculing those that do not share their own views. This could be because so much arguing has occurred and still so many people share contrasting views. It could also be because discrediting someone although petty could seem like the best way to beat their rhetoric.

Social media has been very present in arguments regarding climate change. It has served as an amazing platform to share both opinions and scientific findings. Regardless, if we are striving for a revolution like the ones Gladwell mentions in his paper, social media still has a long way to go.