Earth Month: Climate Change Basics

Despite suffering from common mistakes in articulating the causes of climate change, this educational video from the Environmental Protection Agency provides a solid overview of the issues as well as simple and straightforward actions for people to take to curb emissions.

Screened October 2018 | 100 general population brains | Cross-screen | Toronto, Canada | General Content Benchmarks

Screened October 2018 | 100 general population brains | Cross-screen | Toronto, Canada | General Content Benchmarks

What engages?

[0:12-0:18; 0:40-0:50; 1:26-1:35; 1:57-End]

  • The simple description of the greenhouse gas effect: “The Earth gets heat from the sun. In the atmosphere, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide trap this heat”

  • Aligning simple activities with straightforward visuals: “to do many of our everyday activities like driving our cars, using our computers and heating our homes”

  • Asking Why does this matter? And following it up with concrete implications – ‘we can expect more powerful storms, and more flooding, droughts and heat waves’ - for humanity.

  • VO: “The good news is that we can take action” – clear and straightforward actions both at the energy system level – wind and solar power – and at the individual level – turning off the lights, taking public transportation, and walking or cycling to work or school – all resonate exceptionally well with people.

What fails to engage?

[0:18-0:40; 0:50-1:22]

  • The extended explanation about how greenhouse gases prevent heat from escaping back into outer space, and how trapping some heat is ok to keep the world livable, but all the extra carbon dioxide is not ok.

  • VO: “All of this extra carbon dioxide is trapping more heat in the atmosphere making the earth warmer and causing other climate changes, too.” 

  • VO: “The signs of climate change are all around us” – but the visual is a green meadow with a blooming tree

  • VO: “Temperatures are getting warmer, giant ice sheets are melting, and the oceans are rising. In many places, flowers are blooming earlier, snow is melting sooner and birds aren’t flying as far south as before.” These examples lack the concrete perils of climate change, and are either abstract for humans to grasp (oceans are rising), or are perceived as relatively benign or even positive in nature (flowers are blooming earlier).

*VO = Voiceover

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