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. This twit 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.