What would we do if we really believed the warnings scientists are giving us about climate change and ecosystem collapse?
Not just intellectually understand them or be willing to speak about them on a panel discussion, but actually deeply believe that within 10 years we may pass irreversible tipping points, such as the Amazon rainforest morphing into desert and the loss, for ever, of Greenland’s ice sheets?
What would we all do differently?
One of the more hopeful trends since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic is that trust in scientists has started to increase. This is clearly a positive development, but all human beings respond in different ways: some with their head, others with their heart.
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For example, in complying with COVID-19 lockdown restrictions many people said their primary motive was to follow the science and medical advice; others said it was because they were legally mandated. A large group of people, meanwhile, said a major motivator was hearing stories of heroic frontline workers, which created a sense that they were “all in it together”, inspiring them to do their bit to protect the community.
To transform our societies and avert ecological collapse, we’ll need to win both the hearts and minds of billions of people. We need the best evidence AND the most powerful stories.
In my experience, the stories that are most likely to inspire action aren’t those of experts or celebrities but of people just like us, who have taken a couple of extra steps along the journey.
In making the Pioneers for Our Planet series, we found inspirational people in fairly normal circumstances who had taken the step to do things differently. They had stared straight at the threats we face and responded with ideas, enthusiasm and business opportunities.
From the fishing community that spectacularly restored fish species to their ocean to the Maasai businesses saving the Mara, these latest in the Pioneers series are full of optimism and a can-do attitude.
This is now the third series of films made as a collaboration between the World Economic Forum, WWF and Silverback Films, the team behind the Netflix documentary series Our Planet. But while the first two seasons were filmed before COVID-19, these new films are the first we have launched since the pandemic. So we wanted to kick off Season 3 with a special film which reflects on both the global situation and on a challenge to storytellers and campaigners everywhere.
Because we need to do things differently too. We have to create inspiring stories that bring the evidence to life, and we have to do it without travelling as much – either within countries or between them – and we have to do it with far less funding.
Can we create a world in which a single film shoot – in, say, the Amazon or Arctic – can be used by many to spread a message? Where any organization, large or small, can access eye-popping, thumb-stopping graphs, bar-charts and footage, and be confident in the science behind it?
The first film of Season 3 was made out of archive and Earthtime.org data visualisations. But of course, we had the wonderful privilege of access to both. The challenge now is to create a model for open-source visuals that can be accessed by all, and to do this at scale.
About Pioneers for the Planet: Each week we’ll bring you a new video story about the people striving to restore nature and fighting climate change. This is the third season of our award-winning collaboration with @WWF and the team behind the Netflix documentary #OurPlanet. #ShareOurPlanet.
Watch all the Pioneers for the Planet videos here.