Stop Climate Change
For my Leap #4, I decided to create a propaganda campaign for dosomething.org focusing on stopping climate change.
As a child, I began to understand the importance of keeping our planet healthy because I was going to have to face the consequences that global warming will have on Earth. I was further influenced through Bill Nye and his show, “Bill Nye The Science Guy”, when it was shown during my grade-school science classes. In multiple episodes, Nye stressed the importance of reducing carbon emissions, reliance on fossil fuels, and waste in order to prevent the slow and persistent erosion of our environment.
In a recent interview given to The Guardian, Nye stated:
“Climate change is happening in slow motion, it’s not an instant catastrophe, it’s subtle,” said Nye. “But when you go to the Greenland and see the ice, there’s no more arguing about it.”
I was sufficiently convinced that climate change was a huge problem we were facing as a civilization through Bill Nye’s logical and scientific approach to explaining the issue. I decided I would adopt Bill Nye’s approach in my infographic and use multiple graphs and statistics to show the importance of stopping global warming. I also used memes to appeal to reader’s emotions in hopes that, coupled with the appeal to logic and reasoning, my propaganda campaign would achieve maximum persuasiveness, attractiveness, and salience.
Meme Video: https://vimeo.com/268480134
- Raise awareness of the issue of Climate Change and Global Warming.
- Provide statistics and factual evidence supporting the claim climate change is detrimental to Earth and it’s inhabitants.
- Use emotional appeals through memes in order to alter people’s perception of recent public officials’ decision to ignore climate change and adopting sustainable habits.
For my propaganda campaign, I created an infographic detailing the factors behind global warming, its effect on our environment, and ways we as individuals and our governments can act to combat global warming. When creating my infographic, I wanted to explain the facts as clearly as possible in order to build an airtight case around why humans cause global warming and uphold credibility.
On the first page, the big banner reads “STOP CLIMATE CHANGE” to immediately alert the reader to the big issue I am aiming to combat. Below that reads, “What’s the problem?”, so that when someone reads the statement, they create inner dialogue, increasing connectedness and interaction with my infographic.
Furthermore, I simplified the issue of global warming into three main axioms, “Deforestation”, “Greenhouse Emissions”, and “Acidification & Warming of the Ocean”. I created these groups with icons to help the reader digest more information in a shorter amount of time in hopes of keeping their attention and allowing them to quickly understand the issue if they have not read about it before. I did this in order to align with the “Simplifying Information & Ideas” technique of propaganda.
Under “Main Countries Contributing to Greenhouse Emissions”, I limited the scope to three countries, China, U.S., and E.U.-28. One reason is that the rest of the countries accounted for only a small percent of emissions, but it also categorizes the U.S. and European countries with China, the most notorious polluter on the planet.
An New York Time’s article from January 2018 further confirms China’s rising status as the leading polluter:
China — which already emits more carbon from burning fossil fuels than the United States and Europe combined — saw electricity use jump last year as its economy accelerated. Much of the extra demand was met by burning more coal, a particularly dirty fuel. Oil use has also risen as China has become the world’s largest car market, and so has natural gas consumption.
It was my hope that this would alter readers perception of the U.S. and the E.U.-28 to think that they were on the same level as China regarding greenhouse emissions.
In addition, the section “Global Contributors to Global Warming” is designed to bolster my credibility through utilizing graphs and numbers. I also included the sources below each graph to further enhance the perception of credibility. This section is also designed to help readers visualize what factors into global warming to make the information more salient. I put this section ahead of the rest of my information in order to arm the reader with a factual base to recall upon when viewing the “Effects” section.
In the “Climate Change’s Effect on the Environment” section, I took both a factual and emotional approach to explaining the adverse effects global warming has on our environment. I introduced my statistics through graphs to simplify the data and make it easier to absorb. In my descriptions of the effects, I often referred to the effect on animals so the reader would sympathize with the animals who were suffering due to our careless decisions and perceive solving global warming as urgent not just for humans, but for all life. As most people view animals as helpless bystanders to our actions, it was my hope to utilize the propaganda technique of “Activating Strong Emotions“.
In my last section, “What Can You Do?”, I wanted to frame the viewer’s perspective on how they could change their behavior or introduce immediate steps to take in order to curb their contribution to global warming. This also introduces the idea that the reader is already doing something to contribute to global warming, thus enhancing the need to change some aspect of their behavior. I used simple icons and brief descriptions in order to create the illusion that these actions/behavior changes were simple and easy, even though actions like “Invest in Home Solar Panels” and “Switch to an Efficient Vehicle” have high initial costs, take extended periods of time, and are not necessarily immediate.
I also included a section on what governments can do in hopes to give the reader talking points if they were to discuss the politics of climate change with another person. By giving the reader three simple steps, they can easily recall them and speak on them to anyone. I purposefully omitted research behind the government’s next steps in order to give the perception that these solutions are generally accepted by others.
Through creating memes, I wanted to depart from the dominant factual perspective I used in my infographic. By combining my infographic with these memes, I felt I could give my propaganda campaign factual credibility while also using strong emotional appeals that lacked a lot of factual information and instead relied on humor and irony. I relied on the four propaganda techniques discussed in Mind Over Media.
First, I relied on “Activating Strong Emotions” through the use of humor, irony, and anger. I wanted to frame the memes in a way that confirmed the feelings of displeasure and anger towards Scott Pruitt and President Trump’s stance on climate change. When referring to climate change denial positions the two men hold, the memes reflected a dismissive tone and downplayed the quality and intelligence of their decisions.
Second, in using the “Responding to Audience Needs & Values” technique, I used memes revolving around purchasing food, cars, and using renewable energy. Everyone needs food, transportation, and a place to live. It was my hope that by touching on these subjects it would make my memes more relatable and more persuasive. I framed the decisions of purchasing efficient vehicles, recycling, buying from farmer’s markets, and using renewable energy in a positive and righteous light so people believe that these are the right decisions to make and the opposite is wrong.
Third, my memes utilized the method of “Simplifying Information and Ideas”. All of the memes hold staunch positions on the issues they are discussing, but provide no factual information to support their claim. The memes convey a very simple idea or simple information at a glance and only contain, at max, 30 words.
Finally, the memes touched on the fourth aspect of propaganda, “Attacking Opponents”. By blatantly ridiculing Trump and Pruitt’s climate change positions, the memes directly attack the opposition to my cause. While my infographic lacked this aspect, the memes were a much more desirable avenue for this tactic. By using short jabs and statements, the jokes against the men are quickly understood and processed by the reader, making them more effective and efficient at delivering my desired perspective.
What is Propaganda? (2015). Retrieved May 7, 2018, from http://propaganda.mediaeducationlab.com/learn/#recognizing
Bradsher, K., & Friedman, L. (2018, January 25). China’s Emissions: More Than U.S. Plus Europe, and Still Rising. Retrieved May 7, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/25/business/china-davos-climate-change.html
BERNAYS, E. (2017). PROPAGANDA. S.l.: LULU COM.