Climate Change Web Videos: Advocacy Edition

During the past five years, Web video has emerged as a battleground in climate communication. Journalists, comedians, artists, businesses, governments, climate contrarians and advocacy groups alike are competing to produce the medium’s slickest, funniest and most compelling messages.

Take a look to see how some of those communicators are using Web video to influence public opinion. And if you have a favorite video that is not on the list (or on this list), let us know in the comments section below or by e-mail.

Unusually Large Snowstorm

The Daily Show (7:47)

When record-breaking snowstorms struck the East Coast in early February, climate contrarians pounced, claiming the snow as evidence against climate change. Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe’s family built an igloo on Capitol Hill with a sign reading “Al Gore’s new home.” The Republican Party of Virginia took out a Web ad calling the snow “12 inches of global warming.” Of course, one weather event does not mean much of anything about the climate. As Grist’s David Roberts writes, “No matter what you think about climate change, there is no theory, even among the most hardcore climate skeptics, under which an individual weather event would count as decisive evidence for or against it.” In this video, The Daily Show adds its humorous take to the fray.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Unusually Large Snowstorm
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James Balog: Time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss

TED (19:19)

As the world warms, vast glaciers are retreating, deflating and crumbling into the ocean. Photographer James Balog and his team at the Extreme Ice Survey have deployed 33 time-lapse cameras across the Northern hemisphere to document shrinking glaciers.

Balog got the idea for the Extreme Ice Survey while on assignment shooting glaciers for National Geographic.

“I, as a person who’s been a professional nature photographer my whole adult life, am firmly of the belief that photography, video (and) film have tremendous powers for helping us understand and shape the way we think about nature, and about ourselves in relationship to nature,” Balog says in this short lecture on the subject. Watch to see his vivid images of the world’s changing ice systems.

You can also get a flavor of Balog’s images in this 71-second video:

AK-03 Columbia Cliff Narrated from Extreme Ice Survey on Vimeo.

Wake Up, Freak Out — Then Get a Grip

Leo Murray (11:35)

Artist Leo Murray describes this animated film as a “direct transmission of information to the viewer, which constructs individual audience members in the Enlightenment model – as rational beings.” Yet the film’s chilling vision of the future packs an emotional punch, first depicting the Earth rolling down a hill into a pit of fire, then showing the British firing cannons on climate refugees.

“The world is awash with weapons, enough firearms to arm one in every seven human beings on the planet,” the narrator says as animated figures crumple to the ground. “As the Earth’s ability to support the huge numbers of people alive today dwindles, we will not die peacefully in our sleep.”

Watch to see a simple explanation of the significance of climate feedback loops as well as breathtaking animation.

Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo.

Mr. W.

EPURON, in association with German Ministry for the Environment (2:04)

This clever advertisement will keep you guessing about how it relates to climate change until the very end.

Black Balloons Energy Saving Campaign

Government of Victoria, Australia (00:45)

In this advertisement, aimed at changing individual behavior, black helium balloons symbolize the greenhouse gas emissions of everyday appliances.

Less Energy, More Beer

Government of Ontario, Canada, in partnership with utilities (00:33)

Environmental crusader David Suzuki of Canada appears in this humorous advertisement, which also takes aim at individual energy use. This time, the ad’s message is that saving on electricity bills means more money to buy beer.

Stop Soot, Black Carbon, and Global Warming

Earthjustice (2:13)

In 133 seconds, this animated piece by environmental law firm Earthjustice explains why black carbon is a problem for the climate, argues that the United States and the European Union can do more to regulate it, and asks the viewer to take action.

Greenpeace tells you the naked truth about f-gases

Greenpeace (2:35)

In this advocacy piece, a Greenpeace campaigner takes his clothes off to teach viewers about hydrofluorocarbons, which are potent greenhouse gases. Warning to sensitive viewers: This video contains nudity, although the essentials are disguised by a fig leaf.

The Greening of Planet Earth

(28 minutes)

This film is an early example of the fossil-fuel industry’s efforts to downplay the consequences of climate change. It was produced in 1992 by the Western Fuels Association, a cooperative that distributes 17 million tons of coal from the Powder River Basin each year.

The film claims that carbon dioxide acts as a crop fertilizer and that adding the gas to the atmosphere will unleash an era of unprecedented agricultural abundance.

“With a doubling of CO2, why cotton growers can look forward to yields that are 60 percent and more greater than what they are at present-day levels,” says Bruce Kimball, a USDA scientist, in the film.

According to a 1996 article in The Nation, the film was distributed to more than 1,000 journalists and to the White House.

Here’s Part 2 and Part 3.

The Great Global Warming Swindle

Martin Durkin (9:47)

This 2007 polemic, originally broadcast on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, challenges global warming science. It features interviews with well-known contrarians Patrick Moore, Richard Lindzen, John Christy, Piers Corbyn and others. “Everywhere you are told that man-made climate change is proved beyond doubt,” the narrator says early in the film. “But you are being told lies.”

The film, which has been shown around the world, generated significant controversy (Click here for reporter Andrew Revkin’s article on criticism of the film). The film was roundly rebuked by scientists (see here, here, here, and here). Yet for climate change communicators, it remains a good primer of contrarian claims. Watch the first 10 minutes of the film below.

We’ll plan to update this listing periodically. Do you want to suggest a favorite climate video to add to the collection? Contact Sara Peach at sara@yaleclimatemediaforum.org.

Sara Peach

Sara Peach, an environmental journalist, teaches environmental journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a regular contributor to The Yale Forum. (E-mail: sara@yaleclimatemediaforum.org, Twitter: @sarapeach)
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One Response to Climate Change Web Videos: Advocacy Edition

  1. Mark says:

    Also: the UK government used to have a real scary, intense video (and rightly so). It was pulled but not before it got to Youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmiHoQ4ztyM