About half of all Americans don’t believe global warming is caused by human activities, despite the overwhelming consensus by climate scientists who say this is true. Salt Lake City-based pro skier Julian Carr is taking action to change this by attempting to raise $5.5 million by December 22 to fund what
According to Nielsen, 70 percent of U.S. households watched the 2017 Super Bowl, which saw a total audience of 172 million viewers. So far, Carr’s campaign has raised $7,329 with nine days to go. (Update: As of 12/13, funds have climbed to $13,400.)
"I've been fortunate to go to a lot of the talks that climate scientists give, and one common theme I keep hearing is that their data and message never reach a mass audience," says Carr. "I think that's a big reason why climate change is still a bi-partisan topic."
Carr hopes that by making a commercial with pop-culture relevance, not only will the information get in front of a massive audience during the Super Bowl on February 4, the media attention surrounding successful Super Bowl ads will also help to spread awareness that 110 million tons of man-made pollution is dumped into the atmosphere every 24 hours, causing our sea levels to rise and our coastlines to shrink.
"It is crazy we're the only country not in the Paris Agreement and I'm not sure people understand what it means for us to remain on carbon energy," says Carr. "This isn't some crazy, far-off sci-fi movie—this is for real."
The Trump administration officially announced its plans to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, or Paris Climate Accord, earlier this year. Nearly 200 nations agreed in 2016 to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, in a global effort to curb climate change.
The Kickstarter project is endorsed by Eric Fine, of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, and climate scientist James White, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at University of Colorado, Boulder. According to Fine, 97 percent of climate scientists believe that human-caused global warming is happening.
"This is important to know because only 54 percent of Americans think that global warming is caused mostly by human activities and only 15 percent understand that almost all climate scientists agree on this," Fine told POWDER.
In one experiment conducted by YPCCC, Fine saw that when participants are told about the actual level of scientific consensus, this causes a positive shift in participants' belief that climate change is happening, human-caused, and a worrisome threat.
"Changes in these beliefs, in turn, increased support for public action. Importantly, we found these effects for both Democrats and Republicans," says Fine.
Fine and the YPCCC also published a paper this week showing how the level of scientific agreement can neutralize the politicization of facts, which in part, is what would make this message to the Super Bowl audience so impactful.
"Most people hear about global warming infrequently in the media, and judging by our research, they almost never hear about the scientific consensus," says Fine. "So a Super Bowl ad would get this key gateway belief maximum exposure."
Advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners have offered to create the ad pro bono if Carr is able to raise the necessary funds for purchasing the airtime. The San Francisco-based agency has created Super Bowl ads for Budweiser and Doritos, and during the most recent presidential election ran a series of ads against then-candidate Donald Trump. GS&P has also produced high profile pro bono commercials raising awareness of sexual assault on college campuses and, separately, the benefit of riding bikes for people with ADHD.
Canfield says a Super Bowl spot like this typically has a seven- to eight-month lead time.
"The timeline for this project is insanely tight, but Julian skis off of 210-foot cliffs so all bets are off when it comes to things he's able to do," says Zach Canfield, associate partner at GS&P. "If it works, it will be a big story and a lot of companies will come out the woodworks to help support it."
Canfield and Carr grew up skiing together in Utah.
“Raising $5.5 million is only going to happen for an idea this big. You just can’t ask for that much money for grassroots fundraising,” says Carr. “Absolutely, I can think of a million things better to spend this kind of money on, but it’s not a bad thing to spend money on if we’re getting humanity’s biggest problem in front of humanity’s biggest audience.”