Over the past several months, I and many of my colleagues across The Nature Conservancy have been working on Planet Change, a new microsite we are launching today to draw attention to the need for a global solution to climate change that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions as well as two crucial, yet often overlooked issues in the fight against climate change:
- Reducing emissions from deforestation, and
- Helping natural systems reduce the impact of climate change on people and communities.
The site we’ve put together informs users on the importance of these issues and invites them to participate in our campaign to bring these issues to the table as U.S. lawmakers and global leaders debate the framework for national legislation and global agreements on climate change.
The site gives users the ability to post a message of hope on what they want to protect from climate change and use the social networks Facebook and Twittter to tell their friends about the importance of curbing deforestation and helping nature reduce the impacts of climate change.
While we were creating the site, much of our time was spent on esoteric and technical concerns like design, messaging, user flow, flash integration and APIs (check out Wikipedia if you must know). At the risk of sounding overly cynical, much of what we were doing could have been dedicated to marketing soap flakes instead of raising awareness of solutions to climate change.
Then, one evening last week I was putting together the video above, shot by Conservancy staff in Kenya, and my attitude changed in an instant. The video is a testimonial of a Samburu tribeswoman from Kenya talking about the changes she has witnessed from climate change during her lifetime — drought, decreased food production and loss of income.
Like all of us (whether we know it or not), the Samburu depend deeply on natural systems for their livelihood. Those systems are changing and with those changes, people are facing new hardships in an already exceedingly difficult existence.
After putting this video together, launching Planet Change was no longer an exercise in implementing new web 2.0 tactics. It was now all about getting this woman’s message to the world and helping as many people spread that message as broadly as possible.
It brought my mission home: Use the power of the web to amplify a solitary voice that otherwise might never be heard.