In the wake of his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, former Vice President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore has been travelling the world to talk about climate change and how urgent it is to curb it. He particularly focuses on the impacts of carbon pollution, through the Climate Reality Project. The Project’s latest initiative started yesterday: “24 Hours of Reality: The Cost of Carbon” is based on the idea that “we are all paying for carbon pollution,” as the website explains. The concept is to share knowledge – through events, conferences and conversations on social media – about the effects of carbon emissions on the environment, i.e. on our everyday lives. There are two separate parts to the operation: firstly, for 24 hours (22 and 23 October),
a global broadcast will put the spotlight on all continents and tell the story of how carbon pollution and climate change are shaping key local issues, from food security to extreme weather.
The second part, the interactive Carbon Tab tool, allows people to find out how they pay for carbon pollution based on where they live and how their region is threatened by climate change. They can then engage in online conversations and shout out to the leaders of the world (via Twitter, among other networks) that they can no longer afford the cost. The whole operation supports Al Gore’s vision that the problem can be solved by setting an international market price for carbon. This is why the Climate Reality Project puts so much emphasis on the responsibilities of public authorities and the great leaders of the world.
Reconciling pleasure and environmental protection
But the most interesting part of this awareness campaign is that it strives to show people what climate change actually does to them. It connects it to their everyday lives.
Another initiative launched by the Climate Reality Project, called “What I Love”, adopted the same approach: it is an interactive platform that has you choose eight things that you love and could not live without
– be they mountains, chocolate, Miami or camping. You then find out how carbon pollution and subsequent climate change affect them. The whole idea reflects Gore’s ambition, through the Climate Reality Project, to raise awareness by putting emphasis on how people live and love on our shared planet. It focuses on things worth fighting for and puts a positive emphasis on what we love – sufficient, perhaps, for us to take action.
The action part, though, is a bit disappointing, as it simply suggests we sign up to the Climate Reality Project. That’s fine, of course… but that’s it. It would have been interesting to learn about concrete solutions that we can implement in our everyday lives: where can we find veg with the lowest carbon impact close to where we live, what are the best ways to compensate the carbon emissions for that great trip we took last summer, which companies are taking action and which are not, etc.
What we need, beyond awareness, is to really see that there are solutions to protect what we love – and that they needn’t be austere.
There are ways to reconcile the pleasures of life with the need to protect our environment.
“What I Love” aims to prove that the two are not mutually exclusive. Quite the contrary in fact – loving life should mean striving to protect the beautiful world we live in. The idea is an essential one, but it could be taken a little further. It is our intuition, at down to Earth, that a bit of crowdsourcing would do no harm: what are the things you love most in the world? And what do you do to preserve them? These are questions we all need to be able to answer.