The Alliance for Climate Protection was founded by Al Gore in 2006 as a “single purpose organization committed to igniting public action to help solve the climate crisis”.
Last month the Alliance launched their “We” Campaign (as in “we can solve it”), a $300 million marketing effort (spent over three years) designed to push the public’s “sense of urgency” about the climate crisis toward a “tipping point” breaking through the current logjam of partisan posturing and “cultural stereotypes”. One wonders if $300 million is enough.
To that end, the We Campaign started in earnest with two television ads promoting “Unlikely Alliances”.
- Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson sitting on a couch (with a sunny beach as a backdrop) talking of their unity through the common cause of climate stewardship.
- Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich sitting on what appears to be the same couch (this time in front of the capital building) also doing their bit to show that climate change need not (should not, must not) be viewed through polarizing political ideology.
It’s all about the couch.
The symbolism of the couch helps to foster the idea of broad unity in meeting a tough challenge – sitting down together to work through a common problem. The next step, according to Alliance Director of Communications Matt Howes, is an invitation for you and I to “sit on the couch” with two new ads scheduled for release within the next week. (I’d like to be on the couch at the beach.)
But, despite Al and Pat, Nancy and Newt, I wonder if there is an element of “preaching to the choir” here.
Gore is a lightening rod for conservative vitriol, and even though he remains largely out of the picture on the WeCanSolveIt website and the Alliance’s marketing efforts, right-wing bloggers have no problem sniffing him out, finding any reason to impugn his work and anyone associated with him (Newt’s sanity is now questioned). Before you know it, we’re right back where we started.
Obviously, these people aren’t ever going to get on board or manage to wrap their heads around climate change until it’s much too late – prescience isn’t their forte. So there will always be an element snarling at the cuff of positive change like a rapid dog. (I admit I find myself snarling back, admittedly distracting from the more positive message “We” attempts to promote.)
The ads are aimed at the “middle-of-the-road” people that think global warming is a problem, but don’t quite feel the urgency of taking action post haste to avert the more dire consequences of climate change.
Time will tell if this ambitious media project leads to a greater sense of urgency and pushes the public dialog past political polarization toward a substantive discussion on what to do about it (i.e. aggressive support of alternative energy, cap and trade vs. revenue neutral carbon tax, etc.)
The elements of a solution are discussed on the site – a clean energy economy, personal choices, adoption of renewables, energy efficiency, and innovative leadership. There are also opportunities for individuals to start their own blog, find or create local groups within their community, and other networking tools. It’s hard to say how effective these tools are. Obviously they’re only good to the extent that they’re used. While I might like to start a blog and network through the site, I hardly have the time to start one more blog and pursue one more “social network”. But it is there, and hopefully others are taking advantage of the chance to network and positively discuss the issues.
The main thrust of WeCanSolveIt is an attempt to show that unity is posibble – political or idealogical affiliations be damned. If the WeCanSolveIt campaign can play apart in helping that come about, well, I’m all for it. I’ll sit on that couch.