Can Social Media Change Environmental Campaigns for the Better?

Getting the word out on climate changes, the destruction of the rain forest, and other environmental issues is important to prevent further damage to the world we live on. Social media (things like Facebook and Twitter) have proven a great way to share interests and promote music, movies, and political campaigns, but what about promoting environmental issues?

While it is hard to pinpoint any specific cause in the change of opinion (especially worldwide) what can be said is that the number of people who believe in human caused global warming, or that it is even a threat, is falling in the First World. Gallup polls indicate that between 2007-2008 and 2010, public opinion that global warming was a threat fell ten percentage points in Western Europe and the United States. These are two places where the use of social media are highest. What this shows is that places where public opinion on one of the most pressing environmental issues is falling most rapidly are the same places where public opinion can be most affected by social media campaigns.

Due to the open nature of social media, word can pass quickly with very little (if any) money being spent, and so more campaigning can be done with fewer resources. Take for example the 2009 Iranian presidential election protests. Thousands of people were able to participate and organize rapidly because of the social media website Twitter. The government could not act quickly enough to censor the protesters and this led to one of the largest public demonstrations since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. If this is any indicator, environmental campaigns could easily use similar tactics to promote a message of stewardship and conservation.

Another great example of social media being able to spread a message was the Kony 2012 campaign. Through YouTube and Facebook, the Kony 2012 video gained millions of views almost overnight. While there was some controversy around the video, the way in which social media was used was obviously successful. By taking the free tools at hand and maximizing them with some video production value, the Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign was definitely a success in social media marketing.

These two examples are from two completely different groups. In the Iranian protests, spontaneous grassroots activity spurred the action, and in the case of Kony 2012, it was an established charity that was able to use social media effectively and efficiently. It is clear that social media campaigns have the potential to disseminate the environmentalist’s message. What is also clear, however, is that it has not been happening enough to positively influence public opinion. If social media is to be used more aggressively in spreading the message, it is important to begin immediately and to take full advantage of the nearly instant broadcasting capabilities of social media.

About the author

Kathleen Hubert is a blogger who writes on a variety of different sites. Check out more of her work at

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