With the onset of YouTube and the emergence of digital advocacy, environmental groups, scientists, corporations, government agencies and independent filmmakers have all taken to the virtual airwaves in an effort to frame the critical environmental issues of today. The following is a chronological sampling of the viral videos that have defined the environmental movement from 1958-2010.
Bell Labs' Dr. Research -- Unchained Goddess (1958)
While it didn't go viral until 50 years after it was made, this video features the seemingly prophetic words of Dr. Frank Baxter, or, “Dr. Research,” from a series of educational films called The Bell Laboratory Science Series.
Epuron -- Mr. W (2005)
Sure there's a 47-year jump to our next choice, but perhaps that's indicative of something? A very clever wind energy commercial made by German wind energy developers, Epuron. The two-minute commercial follows the story"Mr. W" newfound purpose in society.
In a series of advertisements from the Victorian Government, a black balloon was used as a unit of measurement that holds about 50 grams of gas. The commercial tries to tackle a concept that is incredibly difficult to communicate--carbon dioxide emissions--in a way that gives a visual representation of something that is essentially colorless, odorless and shapeless.
Free Love Forum -- Coal (2007)
Written and directed by Jeremy Beiler as a comedy sketch,"Coal" quickly became an internet sensation because of its pointed satirical take on a growing trend of energy industry ads that feature actors as regular folks speaking in vague terms about energy.
Free Range Studios/Annie Leonard -- The Story of Stuff (2007)
Written by Annie Leonard and produced by Free Range Studios, The Story of Stuff took a critical eye to globalization, capitalism and the world economy with stick figures and an 'aw shucks' writing style. In late 2009, conservative talk show hosts Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs attacked the Story of Stuff as left-wing propaganda. More recently, Leonard, et al. cast their critical gaze on carbon trading in The Story of Cap and Trade.
Greg Craven -- The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See (2007)
Greg Craven's plain-spoken approach to an incredibly complex phenomena has garnered this high school physics and chemistry teacher an impressive 7 million YouTube views and counting. Craven says his main qualification for proposing a layman's approach to climate change is "having borrowed the 30 brains in his classroom every period to mull questions of science and critical thinking for the last ten years." The popularity of this and other videos sparked Craven to publish a book in 2009, What's the Worst that Could Happen?
Quercus -- Global Warming (2008)
An awareness campaign for Portuguese association Quercus made by New York agency McCann Erickson, this is easily the heaviest video on this list.
This Is Reality -- Clean Coal (2008)
One of a handful of videos made by The Reality Coalition, a project of the Alliance for Climate Protection, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters.
League of Conservation Voters -- Big Oil's Bring Your Kid to Work Day (2010)
A brand new video from the non-partisan League of Conservation Voters, this video has yet to tear-up the interwebs like most of those above, but it is only five days old. The animated short, produced by Los Angeles agency, The Compound, casts a kitschy 1950's-era net on 'Big Oil' and their Capitol Hill work on clean energy legislation.
This is by no means a complete collection. Do you know of any other viral videos that have made a splash in the world of environmental politics? Please let us know in the comments.
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