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Is This the Global Warming Ad that Will Wake Us Up?

Dire warnings can numb instead of inspire. But when kids grow older, they'll ask if we acted.

By Matt Price 2 Nov 2009 | TheTyee.ca

Matt Price is a project manager with Environmental Defence, a national charity dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.

As a human being living his everyday life, I find it very surreal working on global warming. It's as if the scientists have all told us quite clearly that Earth will be hit with a large meteorite, but people go about their lives as per normal. People accept the information but have chosen not to award it any emotional weight. The streets are quiet.

As for our politicians, instead of sending Bruce Willis or Clint Eastward on an urgent mission to space to blow up the meteorite, they too act like it isn't actually happening. Sure, they'll say that we should really deal with that whole meteorite thing, but then they will argue that it would be very expensive to send Bruce or Clint up there, or they'll blame other politicians for ignoring the threat for so long. The result is that the meteorite keeps coming.

Meanwhile, pollsters tell people like me to stay away from the kind of apocalyptic language on display in the past two paragraphs -- even though it's true. It's too debilitating, they say, and turns ordinary people away from action. This is also true.

So, are we humans destined to be trapped in a fatal catch-22 of carbon? Will we leap lemming-like over the cliff we all know is coming? (Even more embarrassing to our species is the fact that lemmings don't actually do this, so we're alone in our defect.)

What parents owe their kids

Some believe we'll only break out of this conundrum with more Katrina-like events that dramatically shake public confidence in our collective and individual security. Science tells us that such events will indeed come, but it would be unconscionable to sit back and wait for this to unfold.

A few months ago we joined together with ForestEthics and approached the communications company zig to help us with some kind of tool that could begin to break us out of this communications dilemma. It's a critical time to do this now since a major UN climate summit will take place in Copenhagen in December -- and the Canadian government is currently on track to play a spoiler role, blinded by tar sands greed.

Together, we zeroed in on the parent-child relationship as a powerful motivator for action, in particular because kids alive today will have to live through the worst consequences of global warming if their parents do not collectively act to change our course. Our kids could inherit the equivalent of Katrina times a hundred, and no parent wants to think they were responsible for making that kind of future happen through his or her inaction.

Watch the PSA, join the moms

An amazing project began to unfold. The people at zig donated their time to produce a public service announcement (PSA), and then so did over a hundred actors, crew, editors, and musicians. The result is the piece you can view above.

Out of the same creative process grew an initiative called Moms Against Climate Change that asks parents across Canada to upload pictures of their kids in order to remind Prime Minister Harper who he'll be representing in Copenhagen.

One PSA alone can't break us out of the carbon catch-22, but it will be interesting to see how parents respond to it in the coming weeks. The piece depicts a global warming demonstration by kids, which takes us back to the surreal nature of the whole issue -- that, based on the facts of climate change, this kind of action should be happening in our streets on a daily basis.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Environment

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