Allow me to rephrase the question to be more accurate: Will social media help in saving life on earth? The planet is not in danger, but we are. We like to believe that we are saving the planet while in reality we are working on saving ourselves. The planet existed long before us and will be there long after we perish! We are in real danger. Contrary to common belief, the threat of climate change is not a future threat, it is a current one. A lot of people are dying now and many others are leaving their homes and lands.
Activism to pressure governments…
Bill McKibben (@billmckibben), the American environmentalist and author, appalled by his country’s climate policy, realized the importance of people’s awareness in the matter of climate change in order to pressure their governments to take responsible actions. Twenty years ago, he published his book ‘The Book of Nature‘ (in 24 languages) which was the first book to address climate change to non-scientific audience. Two years ago – in 2007 - he established the environmental group 350.org where they ran a campaign called “Step It Up” that organized over 2,000 rallies in different places in all the 50 states of America. The rallies caught the attention of many political leaders and convinced many of them – including Senator Barack Obama – to adopt their common call for action: cutting carbon 80% by 2050.
Bill says “Climate change is the most important story in the world, no other story would matter 2,000 or 10,000 years from now“.
350 is the number that leading scientists claim is the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide. Currently we have exceeded those levels and reached 390 so far, which puts us at a huge risk. We need to reduce carbon emissions very fast. This year – in December - we have out best shot in Copenhagen where the United Nations are working on a global climate change treaty. What is 350.org – along with many partners - aiming to achieve now? Having all of us standing together as a planet and demand a fair climate treaty from world leaders.
There is a huge bill of carbon reduction that needs to be divided between people around the world. Every country will have its own share, but the shares would vary from one country to another depending on different factors that take into consideration the historical emission level of each country along with current emission level and state of economy. Of course, rich industrial countries will not only have to take drastic measures in cutting their current emission level but also helping developing countries with money and technology to switch into renewable energy sources without affecting their small fragile economies.
It was only a month ago when the United States and China, the two largest polluters, reached an agreement to work together on a global solution after a long period of disagreement, in which each one took the other as an excuse for not acting.
There are also countries like Saudi Arabia (leading the OPEC and the Arabic countries) whose economies are built on their oil exports and thus are taking a discouraging stand against needed climate change actions. Maybe diplomacy is the key to fighting climate change, but the conflict of interests is huge, and thus people around the world need to be mobilized in order to add the needed pressure on the resisting countries.
Global Day of Climate Action – 24 October:
350.org is calling out for a global climate action day on the 24th of October. People in more than 1000 communities around the globe have already announced their action plans — school children in Bangledesh will be planting 350 trees, scientists on the statues on Easter Island will be hanging banners labeled 350, 350 scuba divers will dive underwater at the Great Barrier Reef, and a thousand more creative actions like these. At each event, people will gather for a big group photo that somehow depicts 350–and upload those photos to the 350.org website.
The objective? To mobilize as many people as possible around the world to take actions and report their experience through social media to trigger the needed buzz and pressure the world leaders to take responsible actions when they meet in Copenhagen. The 350.org website has a section for social networks and online organizing where it offers a Twitter widget, it links to 350 Facebook fan page, 350 Youtube channel and 350 Twitter account.
Our last chance!
The Copenhagen conference may be our last chance to agree on saving the life on this planet. Environmental activates are out all over the world trying to push their leaders to do the right thing. Social media provides us with the needed tools to express, share and promote awareness about this matter. Will it help us get our message through? Will it capture the attention of the world leaders? It is up to us.
I will be waiting for a trending #climatechange topic on 24th October on Twitter. Let us all be part of it.