Part 1 BLOG ACTION DAY: Social Media and Climate Change Activism

BLOG ACTION DAYToday is Blog Action Day! Greetings to all!  More than 7500 Bloggers from 139 countries at the time of writing have signed up (with more signing up at the last minute)  to talk about Climate Change – effectively reaching an audience of over 11 million people. That’s quite an impact!

Blog Action Day is another in a series of worldwide events, both offline and online, geared to build up momentum towards the Copenhagen COP15 talks (December 7th-18th) by creating massive awareness about the most important collective threat that humanity is facing, namely Climate Change  AND to press global leaders for a good outcome at the Summit, which is a concrete Climate Deal.

Eco WALK the Talk has chosen to talk about the use of SOCIAL MEDIA for CLIMATE CHANGE activism.

Social Media has definitely proven to be an extremely useful vehicle for Climate Change activism and we’ll explore the phenomenon in more detail.


Social media includes blogs, forums, collaborative sites like wikipedia, photo sharing sites like Flikr, video sharing such as YouTube and Vimeo, social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIN, Orkut and so on, as well as community Q&A such as Yahoo answers and Ask!  It also includes mobile phone connectivity through text messaging.

688396_keyboard_1Social Media has  definitely grown at exponential rates over the last couple of years.  You could even call it a revolution!

Facebook itself has 300 million users. 100.9 million viewers watched 6.3 billion videos on YouTube.com (62.6 videos per viewer). 

According to Did You Know?” (4.0),  (a video produced for the Economist’s Third Annual Media Convergence Forum in New York City on October 20–21, 2009)  Myspace, Facebook, and YouTube collectively get 250 million unique visitors per month. None of these sites existed 6 years ago!  Wikipedia launched in 2001. It now features over 13 million articles in more than 200 languages. 

So rapid has been the growth of this new media that Newspaper circulation is down 7 million over the last 25 years whilst in the last 5 years, unique readers of online newspapers are up by 30 million.


Social media has had some really remarkable success stories in the recent past :

  • According to this Guardian article, “Thomas Gensemer, whose company Blue State Digital managed Obama’s online campaign, built his website my.barackobama.com, recruited 13.5 million supporters and raised $500m for the Obama campaign.”  It’s stated in Wikipedia  that the video Yes We Can, named after the ubiquitous Obama campaign slogan, was released on February 2, 2008. The video was generating over a million views on YouTube a day after its release.  By March 27, 2008, the song had been viewed over 17 million times on YouTube and other sites! 
  • During the 2009 Iranian Presidential elections, Twitter played a very important role in disseminating information, with tweets reaching more than 220,000 an hour
  • Greenpeace attributes cyberactivism for the success of the campaign to save the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada.  Thousands of e-mails and online petition signatures helped in the success. 
  • According to this report on Prospects for E-Advocacy in the Global South, Greenpeace Argentina led an award winning Zero Waste campaign encouraging 350,000 supporters to contact their representative through text messages and successfully influenced a vote in parliament. 
  • The Charity: Water , which helps poor countries access drinking water, is a good example of how social media helps non-profits garner funds for their causes.  Having a great video  helped spread the message. So did the YouTube Call-To-Action , a video overlay feature which helps non-profit users to link viewers to a donation page. And needless to say, having actor Hugh Jackman as a twitter follower who donated AUS $ 100,000 to the cause certainly helped!


ist2_9028632-social-networkingThe viral nature of social media, due to the fact that information can be shared easily in a replicable and scalable way has led its rising popularity.  This has encouraged many organisations involved in Climate Change activism towards the imaginative use of social media, spreading awareness and gathering support for a good outcome at the Copenhagen COP15  talks. 



Some of the events in the recent past, and the key ones forthcoming in the run up to the Copenhagen Summit starting December 7th 2009 are as follows. You’ll notice that most campaigns are online, spilling over or building up to offline action.

1.  September 21st, 2009 :  Global Wake-Up Call by Avaaz.org   spread by email and social networking sites. People from all over the world flooded the lines via phone to their political leaders to represent their country at Copenhagen with a “fair and binding” commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Eco WALK the Talk made a call in support of this event.

2.  September 22nd 2009 : Global Premiere  of the movie,  The Age of Stupid” which included screening in 50+ countries over 700 cinemas.  The film is an excellent wake up call on the urgency with which we need to act on climate change. If you haven’t seen it yet, and are still wondering why we need another movie on global warming, read this article by Director, Franny Armstrong in the Huffington Post.  

It’s interesting that the movie makers used a crowd funding model with hundreds of individuals and groups contributing to it. And not to forget, the imaginative use of Facebook, Twitter and their website to spread word about the film.

The makers have also initiated the 10:10 campaign for every individual, company and organisation to reduce their footprint by 10% in 2010. Eco WALK the Talk is supporting this campaign by a series of blogs to show how this can be achieved.

4. October 15th : Ah yes! Today!  Blog Action Day is an initiative to unite bloggers of the world to type about their take on Climate Change from any angle such as technology, business, art, travel and so on. 

According to the announcement from the organisers, there will be a live stream of all posts on the Blog Action Day homepage all day long , so do be sure to include the words “Blog Action Day” in your posts to have them roped in. If you are on Twitter, you can use the hashtag #BAD09.

5. October 24:  International Day of Climate Action, a mega event organised by 350.org where activities on the ground are being planned throughout the world. Spread awareness about this event by posting the link to the map on your website, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. You’ll be able to zero in on the events happening in your city and country.

6. October 30th is the deadline for the competition 1 minute to save the world . It’s a video competition in which you are invited to share 1 minute films showing your perspectives on climate change.

7. Earth Journalism Awards   (the application deadline is over) which according to the website which will select 14 winners during November. “The 15th prize – the Global Public Award – will be chosen by the public, who will be invited to vote online for the best story drawn from the 14 winning regional and thematic awards through a social networking campaign on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This vote will take place between November 9 – December 9 2009.”  These winners will be invited to attend the awards ceremony in Copenhagen on 14th December, 2009.


ist2_2941016-global-warmingHow much of an impact all this online and offline activism is going to make, only time will tell. We have 53 days left for Copenhagen at the time of writing. The future is our hands.  Every small step we take, every small link that we pass on to others makes a difference.

In Part 2 of this blog, I will touch upon how individuals like you and me can become social media champions for Climate Change and other social and environmental causes.   Till then, please play your part, that’s all that’s expected.


And yes, do listen to that clock….Tck, Tck, Tck…..


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Posted by on Oct 15 2009. Filed under Carbon Footprint, Climate Change, Climate Change, Green Activism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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