By Nicole Hansen
[Blogger Bio Below]
When the Green Blog Network asked me to be a panelist for the Breathe LA Salon "AB 32.0 and the Rise of Green Digital Media" and blog about it on The Green Blog Network, I was reluctant. Ever since my son Nikos directed the global warming PSA, Save It, I’ve been thrown into a world of "green" issues. Many times I feel ill equipped to participate, as if I’m the student and everyone else around me are the experts—including my own children. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in Boulder, Colorado! Nothing could be more "green" than the granola Disneyland of my youth. But since coming to California twenty years ago, being ecological has gone from something the "Earth Muffins" of Boulder would do to actually becoming state laws. Such is the case with California’s AB 32.
AB 32 - Getting The Word Out
Stephanie Mullen, the Senior Field Representative to State Senator Fran Pavley made the opening remarks, stating that Senator Pavley authored AB 32 to give the California Air Resources Board authority to bring emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020. Though the law was enacted years ago, I was surprised to hear that it has not yet been implemented. She stated that we need to use resources more effectively and are looking for a strong, green economy in California. The moderator, Ray Gonzales, a former KTLA personality, brought up the fact that there is a lot of opposition to the law because of its shorthand as "the global warming law." I believe he has a point—so how does the green social media reach those who don’t believe in global warming so that they will be less opposed to something that is basically based on common sense?
Common Sense Approach To Information Dissemination
The first panelist, Jennifer Gooding, is the LA Ambassador to EcoTuesday. She brought up the point that people's initial hesitation arises from a disconnection to the world that can be remedied by social media. She believes that we need a forum to connect, and she has been described as that connector. We often get a bunch of information, are overwhelmed, but are not connected. That’s the benefit of social media when it comes to getting the message out there, since the vast majority of people did not know what AB 32 is. We're failing by not having common people understand the basics.
Panelist Siel Ju is the Green LA Girl, and has appeared on outlets including NPR and NBC, among many others. She has a Ph.D in creative writing and literature but is now devoted to blogging about environmental issues. She noted that AB 32 is not a familiar term to most people. It reminded her of the battle with rBGH, which makes cows produce more milk but also causes birth defects. We must give people more information and not just boil it down to "Ban rBGH!" (or "Save AB 32!") Whether it be eating locally produced food or riding the subway, we should connect AB 32 to things people already desire. Moreover, we must use social media for a conversation to make connections.
Panelist Josh Tickell, director of Fuel, stressed that there is power of media in environmental issues. Stepping back from the fray, the long-term objectives of AB 32 are a breakthrough and so are its emissions cuts. The Fuel film is digital media designed to have an effect. They didn't want the result to just end in rallying efforts, but rather to "shift the energy needle" in this country. He wanted a campaign with 10 goals that people could choose from as they matched their own. A big topic for Josh is fuel made from algae, and he observed that a lot of food energy is going unused. He was able to get a meeting with the Department of Energy and to start a campaign for algae. The meeting turned into a shouting match with great disagreement on the department's side. In the end, through the social, objective based digital and social media, there is significant investment and growing, with already $100 million being spent on algae lobbying. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger can order a million solar roofs, and the next campaign should be a million green cars. What we need, according to Josh, is a broad perspective.
Before I spoke, I shared my answer to the global warming messaging through digital media and showed my son’s 1Sky PSA, Save It (later endorsed by Global Green and Greenpeace). The shocker was that people wrote hate messages on YouTube where it premiered as Take Part’s first video release, calling me an uninformed hippie that has brainwashed my kids, and some who even said my son was "stupid." Ironically, my sons both have developmental disorders that I was warned by the EPA they would have, as a result of environmental toxins. With what my children have to go through to be educated in special needs schools, at the expense of the government, is why it matters to all of us. Framing the discussion as a human health issue is much less controversial than global warming and we can use social media to educate people about asthma, autism, cancer and numerous other disorders that are exacerbated by or a direct cause of the toxins we are responsible for trying to control. So Earth Muffin or not, the real cost of paying for our health will far outweigh the cost of converting to cleaner and greener technologies in the long run. That’s how we should use social media to educate the masses to the importance of actually implementing AB 32.
Bio: Nicole organized and produced the first Renewable Energy Conference and Awards Gala at the United Nations sponsored by the Honduran Permanent Mission to the UN with notable speakers and honorees such as Dr. Arthur Nozik of NREL, Dr. Daniel Nocera of MIT as well as Billionaire John Paul DeJoria. She was a featured speaker alongside producer Marshall Herskovitz for the 2009 Green Girls Holiday Event advocating publicly for the use of renewable energy technologies.