In June 2008, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), launched a campaign to promote their mission, which is to stop climate change. They partnered with the Germaine Ad agency to create an ad that will motivate the theme of their campaign, “STOP CLIMATE CHANGE BEFORE IT CHANGES YOU.” The WWF’s message was not enough without using graphics that invoke the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of the audience. The creation of the ad was influenced by a big part of WWF’s mission to market their idea of reducing climate change nationwide. The WWF used their ad to emphasize that if sea water levels rise, it can cause humans to adapt from being surrounded by land to being surrounded by water.
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
According to the Department of Ecology, climate is known as average weather that indicates weather patterns resulting from rain, snow, seasons, wind, and humidity. Changes in the climate had an impact on the ecosystem, which is the relationship of living and nonliving things that coexist on earth. Historically, it also has an impact on the economy and political movements. Climate change evolved from the entrapment of heat into the air caused by carbon dioxide from burned fossil fuels, and other heating gases known as greenhouse effects.This has caused ice glaciers to melt, severe coastal storms, and droughts. It affects the way humans live and interact with the environment. (“What is Climate Change”) Throughout the past 50 years, there has been an increase in the climate’s temperature. (MacMillan, par.1) Climate change remains to be a controversy in the world today and is also being referred to as global warming due to the rise of heating temperatures. Scientists and organizations with different beliefs or backgrounds have different ways of approaching scientific and historical evidence.
BRIEF PROFILES OF PARTICIPANTS
World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the World Wildlife Fund organization (WWF) evolved from two different organizations who worked towards protecting the environment in 1961. They were the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and The Conservation Foundation. During that time period, they experienced a shortage of funds. They began to get support from leaders of conservation organizations such as The Morges Manifesto, conservation leaders such as Sir Julian Huxley, a biologist of the African wildlife, and vice president of IUCN and director general of British Nature Conservancy E.M. Nicholson. Morges Manifesto claimed that though there were many experts involved in conserving the environment, there were insufficient funds to provide the protection needed.
As a result, the World Wildlife Fund was an international organization established to raise funds and collaborate with other conservation groups to plan movements that contribute towards protecting the earth’s environment. The WWF works to address the issues surrounding climate change by planning on strategies to reduce the emission of greenhouse effects such as carbon and gas into the earth’s atmosphere. WWF also works with global leaders from local communities and networks to motivate countries in finding climate change solutions such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was established in 1992.
The Heartland Institute
There are organizations that are skeptical to the research surrounding climate change. One organization that opposes the WWF is The Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute is a nonprofit organization that was founded in Chicago within the year 1984 by David H. Padden and Joseph L. Bast. Bast became president of the institute in 2005. Padden’s role in the Heartland Institute started as the CEO to being one of the Board of Directors of the organization until his passing in 2011. Heartland Institute has gone through peer-review scientific journalists to clarify the issues surrounding climate change in a broader spectrum by understanding the earth’s past climate history.
Heartland Institute has joined the climate debate since 1993. Their mission is to engage in research studies pertaining to education, health care, tax and budget issues, and environmental protection. Technically, their peer-review process begins with 370 academics and professional economists. From their legislative forum, 25 officials are chosen to write, speak, and post comments on policy issues.
TECHNICAL LANGUAGE USED
The elements used in the ad were designed to generate fear among the audience. It also builds a mental image by making humans feel they are responsible for the causes of climate change. In the background of the ad, there is an image of a man with the face of a fish. The man-fish like image is standing in front of a dark gray background and wearing a sea-blue colored shirt. The text in front of the image instantly draws the audience into thinking humans could end up living like sea creatures if they do not take action to reduce chances of climate change. In the text, “STOP CLIMATE CHANGE BEFORE IT CHANGES YOU,” the words ‘CLIMATE CHANGE’ and ‘YOU’ are the objects they are using to place guilt and arouse emotion. The instant arousal of that emotion delivers a red signal to a viewer’s mind indicating that he or she is responsible for the negative impacts of climate change, or global warming.
HOW AND WHY EXPERTS DIFFER
WWF Research Activities and Initiatives
WWF believes humans have been the main cause of climate change in the past years. The organization states that in order to reduce chances of climate change, society must actively seek ways to lower carbon emissions into the earth’s atmosphere. Within the year 2008, WWF established one of their initiatives to gain support from the public in finding solutions to combat the impacts of climate change, known as the Climate Witness Programme-Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP). The Climate Witness Programme builds a network of communities and organizations across the world that study the impacts, and share their current and past experiences of climate change. One of the highly considerable climate change organizations the Climate Witness Programme includes is the International Climate Change Panel (ICCP). (“The Climate Change Witness Progamme-Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) Guidelines”) The reason why ICCP is qualified to be part of WWF’s Climate Witness Programme is because of it is an intergovernmental body that works to assess the most recent scientific data that is researched by scientists who have an expertise in climate change and current discoveries.
According to Scientific American, statistics presented by leading climate scientists from ICCP claim that sea levels have risen to 3.1 millimeters per year since 1993. In addition, the WWF claimed that sea water levels have risen in central pacific islands. People who lived in islands such as Tuvalu and Samoa have relocated due to rising water levels that have taken over their homelands. (“Are Arctic Sea Ice Melts Causing Sea Water Levels to Rise?”) ICCP indicates that because humans cause carbon dioxide emission into the earth’s atmosphere, the heat is absorbed into the bodies of water that surround the planet. Then ice glaciers begin to melt causing sea water levels rise.
Heartland Institute Skepticism
Heartland Institute states that since there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove causes of climate change as per other scientists, then there isn’t a need to issue propaganda ads and statements that makes the audience bear false information. (“Climate Change”) The Heartland Institute collaborates with the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). NIPCC brings non-governmental scientists to discuss the causes of climate change. NIPCC motivates the Heartland Institute to look into evidence that is avoided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which serves as one of WWF’s scientific advisory panels.
According to The Heartland Institute, the cause of rising sea water levels was not due to manmade causes. Rather, it is caused by land subsidence. Land subsidence is described as groundwater withdrawal from sandstone formation. Land subsidence occurred in coastal areas such as Texas, Santa Core Valley, California, and Virginia Coastal Plain. (Driessen, par. 5) When ice glaciers melt, the sand and clay layers are compressed with water and it turns to groundwater pumping throughout the regions. Heartland Institute claims that a solution to reduce rising water levels is to remove groundwater pumping in coastal areas that are being affected, not to reduce the use of carbon and gas, which can cause money to be wasted on replacing gas, coal, and oil.
In response to the cause of climate change by human activity of greenhouse effects, the Heartland Institute states that the warmth of the climate is due to changes in solar energy that also causes global temperatures to change naturally; humans have no control over increasing climate temperatures. (“Physical Science”)
POLITICAL AND IDEOLOGICAL MOTIVATIONS
World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
WWF believes in pushing boundaries through marketing strategies and government-based scientific organizations to empower their mission of protecting the environment. The drive they need to accomplish climate change awareness levels is influence on every individual, regardless of their knowledge and beliefs. The reason is because the WWF organization came from the idea that because humans adapt to nature for survival, then they are primarily responsible for the safety and endurance of the ecosystem. They believe people living on earth should see that the way they live affects the formation of climate change. WWF wants people across the globe to engage in research, movements, and discussions that relate to improving the conditions of the environment including food, forests, water, wildlife, and the climate. They believe if humans do not take the initiative to act, then they are increasing dangerous risks that can harm these environmental factors that contribute to life on earth.
The Heartland Institute
The Heartland Institute is motivated by their idea to not only to protect the earth’s environment, but to also save the economy, secure production of coal, gas, and oil, and establish social reforms through free marketing solutions. The organization believes that the cause of climate change is not by human activity. Scientists are gathered to engage in free market research to discover evidence they believe is overlooked by other climate change experts. They see the issue of climate change as a complete threat to fulfill their mission if government-based organizations and scientists continue to develop strategies to cut the use of carbon, gas, and oil. In addition, they believe it will have a negative impact on the land’s energy renewal system and the economic system by reducing agricultural jobs.
How Formal Awareness Can Make a Difference
There are elements in the ad that can be removed in order to encourage the audience rather than provoking fear to solve a problem. As a professional technical writer, a suggested solution to address a more comforting message would be to apply different elements such as the typography, background, image, and layout. The color of the background can be changed to a neutral blue color, which would represent the main colors of the planet. Second, the image in front of the background would be to replace it with an image of a land near water. For the text, the caps would be removed and it would be formatted using a left or right alignment with a more encouraging phrase such as, “We Can Prevent Climate Change.” Then in smaller fonts underneath the title, would be a subtitle that states “New Scientific Evidence Leads the Way.”
What a technical writer can understand from this experience is that there is no need to take an audience’s concern or interests for granted. While there is an understanding of the issue such as reducing climate change for the endurance of the environment’s conservation and human survival, there should be a balance between knowing what the audience is experiencing and how the strategies are presented. The audience will be turned away if they feel their interests were used only to the writer’s advantage. This is because it shows that the writer or organization is more interested in building their reputation rather than addressing the needs of the audience.
The Climate Change Witness Progamme-Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) Guidelines. WWF
International – Climate Change Witness, Oct. 2008, https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwKfjKsXaxaGNWFkYTJiNzUtMjFiMi00YjhlLTk0NDctMD Q5NzA3YmFiMTE3/view. Accessed 3 Nov. 2017.
Acre Arcti Sea Ice Melts Causing Sea Levels to Rise? Scientific American, A Division of Nature America, INC., June 2008, www.scientificamerican.com/article/arctic–ice–melts–cause–risingsea/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2017.