Climate Change and the social media


Some years ago I was given a twitter account and website as a gift from my sister. It was a very appropriate gift for someone floundering in the politics of climate change. I already had a facebook page although I was an infrequent user. It took me some time to get used to Twitter and even longer to realise the potential of regular blogging. I have yet to come to terms with facebook and admit I only have a partial understanding of its processes. However each tweet I make is automatically posted on my facebook page sometimes doubling its audience.

Since deciding (about 2008) that the problem of climate change was enormous and that it made all other political issues insignificant I have been active in a number of ways. I began with an emailed newsletter and standing for public office on a climate platform at every opportunity. This is gradually being replaced by regular tweeting and blogging although I still may stand for public office given the opportunity. One aim of tweeting and blogging is to build my audience by increasing my followers. I follow someone on twitter – usually someone connected or interested in climate change or renewable energy and expect them to reciprocate. If they do not respond after reasonable opportunity I unfollow them.  I also manage 3 other twitter accounts and have access to 2 other facebook pages on which I can share posts and tweets – usually with strong Gippsland content or interest.

My twitter and facebook pages have different audiences. The former concentrates on media, those interested in climate change, sustainability, renewable energy and Oz politics with the odd history buff. Facebook is confined to family, friends and locals again with a few interested in koorie history. When I am confronted by a climate denier on twitter my policy is to deny them access. With facebook friends I am much more patient. I try to persuade and inform and am yet to unfriend anyone.

Each day for up to 3 hours I read articles almost solely on some aspect of climate change or renewable energy and then tweet them. At first I thought this process would put a number of rellies offside (almost all facebook friends) but have been surprised by the support from many of them. It is a task with sometimes small gains and advances with twitter talking mainly to the converted but also a worldwide audience whereas facebook is local and probably more important politically.

Recently I read Shawn Otto’s War on Science. I lifted the ‘science pledge’ from his book and asked all the candidates at the last election to sign it (see below). Six did so though unfortunately none were elected. I then wrote a blog on the pledge and tweeted it. Otto has found the tweet and blog, retweeted it, and then followed me on twitter. A pleasant but unintended consequence. Climate activists need to use the social media regularly. It is an important tool in political persuasion.