The world’s reliance on fossil fuels may be one of the primary causes of global warming, but America’s inability to stop it is tied to a trickier issue: public ignorance. Only one in eight Americans know that climate scientists have agreed it’s human activity that’s catalyzing climate change, according to a recent report by Yale and George Mason University.
Pro skier Julian Carr plans to fix that by raising awareness through the ultimate attention-getting medium: a 30-second commercial that will air during the Super Bowl this February. To fund it, Carr launched a $5.5 million campaign called #AirMyGlobalWarmingAd on Kickstarter. The ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which has previously done Super Bowl spots for brands like Doritos, Denny’s, Budweiser and Chevrolet, agreed to make the commercial pro bono.
“We intend to be a part of that narrative, shake it up, create something inspiring and dire,” Carr says in an email to Fast Company. “Humanity’s biggest issue should be in front of humanity biggest audience.”
The Super Bowl is the most watched live event in the country each year. Its commercials, which traditionally attract 110 million viewers and are slick enough to drive plenty of water cooler conversation afterward, remain part of the allure. As Carr sees it, that’s a pretty good way to use entertainment for stealth education.
GS&P has already created a professional teaser to sell the power of that concept. As you can see below, it drives home the fact that the U.S. is not only the country’s largest emissions maker but is the only country to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement between nations for a unified plan to battle climate change.
All claims in the video have been fact checked and endorsed by two climate scientists, one at University of Colorado Boulder and another at Yale, along with the educational and political advocacy group Protect Our Winters.
Among the top prizes for individual donors is the chance to ski with Carr and receive “unlimited fist bumps.” Companies that back the effort may get some valuable airtime at the end of the commercial, potentially in a list of major brands that approve the message.
Carr came up with the idea after working alongside Protect Our Winters and another nonprofit called Climate Reality Project. “I have been fortunate to attend climate seminars given by top climate scientists, as they explain the horror unfolding on this planet,” he adds. “One common theme from the scientists, they all say their data/message isn’t heard by the masses.”
A hit commercial could help solve that, even if what comes next isn’t certain.