Gore’s pot… a drop in $100 million campaign.

Alliance logoAl Gore’s $750,000 take from the Nobel Peace prize has been donated to the Alliance for Climate Protection, the new organization he helped found and for which he’s serving as Chairman. Gore made the announcement in Palo Alto last week, where the organization is headquartered.

How’s the money going to be spent?

“I want to use the honor and recognition of this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness of the emergency,” Gore said as he announced the donation of his half of the Nobel award at Alliance’s Hawthorne Avenue office. He had already planned to attend a meeting at Alliance that day, Gore told the press. Yet he had not mentioned why he had come — to help design an enormous media blitz that will convince Americans to take action against climate change…

The campaign will be launched in several months, [Communications Director Brian Hardwick] said — allowing it to overlap with next year’s presidential race.” Voters are going to need to hold people accountable,” Hardwick said.

The enormous scope of the project will include prime-time television commercials, billboards, print ads and Web sites, he said. Rough estimates place the cost at about $100 million each year, he said.

The anti-smoking “Truth” campaign run by the American Legacy Foundation, a similar major public-education effort, costs $130 million a year, he said. “That’s the kind of scale we want to be at. That’s necessary to out to your audience,” he said.

My brother used to work at the American Legacy Foundation… I wonder how effective the organization would (honestly) say The Truth campaign has been?

I really hope the media campaign aims to achieve more than build awareness. “An Inconvenient Truth” changed my life and hopefully to some degree the course of history. But if I have one complaint with Gore and his climate crisis strategists, it’s their over-emphasis on awareness and lack of concrete calls to action. The film suffered from too much emphasis on the problem and not enough time devoted to solutions. The Live Earth campaign, too, limited itself to asking people to “pledge” to make change.

Alliance for Climate Protection has partnered with Earth Lab to help people reduce their carbon footprints. The group touts itself as having “the most comprehensive carbon and lifestyle calculator available” but I find the site to suffer from precisely this “value.” It falls squarely (IMHO) into the trap of building itself for a niche audience of people who are already actively interested in reducing their impact. And many of the pledges are, frankly, baffling. For example, under travel:

  • “I will wait to get my firewood until I reach my destination”
  • “I will keep living organisms where they belong”

While others are vague, meaningless, or rendered laughable for how easy they make very difficult things seem:

  • “I will use environmentally friendly ways to entertain my children”
  • “I will buy less stuff”
  • “I will quit smoking including calling for support if needed (1-800-QUIT NOW)”

Under lifestyle are listed 55 separate pledges you can make. All in one list. And that’s just one of five separate areas to address (home, energy, commute, travel, work, lifestyle). Talk about overwhelming!

The good news is that they’ve built in some sort of reminder mechanism (you can sign up to get an email reminder in 3 days, 7 days, etc. to start making your pledge) but as far as I can tell it’s limited to this type of support. When you reply that you’ve started your pledge, they reduce the points on your ECP score. There’s no content explaining what’s involved, no know-how in terms of helping people make the change, no ongoing support or resources…

But I digress… my real point is that I wish Gore & Alliance for Climate Protection could move beyond awareness (people are aware, Al, and largely thanks to you… now let’s move on) and empty pledges to a campaign that gets people to take action. But the call to action can’t be a zillion things that only serve to overwhelm or confuse people.

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