In order to get us out of this mess, we need two things: a sense of urgency and a sense of hope.
We need carrots and we need sticks.
The Stick Brings the Reality of Climate Change Home
Movies such as "An Inconvenient Truth" and the spread of memes such as peak oil (heck, peak everything), the end of suburbia and extreme weather help to provide a sense of the seriousness of the situation and therefore a sense of urgency. These are examples of inspiring by fear, examples of the stick approach.
The Carrot Entices us to Work for a Green Future
Equally important are examples that inspire by hope, that entice us with a carrot, that provide some answers to the logical question that most people ask following exposure to the more alarmist memes mentioned above. That question is "Got it. What can I do?"
TreeHugger was built on this premise. I had seen disparate pieces of a modern, aspirational green future out there. Yet I believed that if I could bring it together in one place, I could help people see a vision of a compelling green future that they could step into. I felt that the world needed exciting models of what the world could look like and that experiencing this firehose of positive global green solutions would help people feel the movement, feel the momentum and therefore be inspired to go green themselves and fight for friends, businesses and government to do the same. There's nothing better to help close an argument than being able to point at a solution...
At the Planet Green Launch in Washington, D.C.
So last night was a big night for me. I had a real epiphany. I got it. Planet Green, our new 24-hour eco-lifestyle network, is a big step for the green movement.
I was at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C. for the launch of the channel. Standing there at the first major stadium in the United States that managed to get LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, watching for the first time, I realized that besides the great programming, this channel is really doing what TreeHugger did on the Web. With super-accessible content and digestible entertainment, it has created a real place, a real center for green. It's another firehose of exciting green solutions. And because it's TV, you can feel it in a wholly different way. Seeing the bevy of different people and projects from around the world, you can't help but get excited, you can't help but feel the momentum, and you can't help but feel the hope.
Will it be perfect? No. Will all the shows work? No. But I bet that it resonates with people, gets even better over time and ideally attracts more tv competition. We need all hands on deck to help get us out of this mess and this carrot and stick channel (similar to HuffPo Green's approach) is a powerful tool in this fight.
Congrats to John Hendricks, the founder and chairman of Discovery Communications, CEO David Zaslav, Eileen O'Neill, general manager of Planet Green, and the Discovery crew. You've done a really good thing and you should be proud of yourselves.
Find out more details on all Planet Green shows here.
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Photos from top: Michael Rosenfeld/Getty Images; Sascha Pflaeging /Getty Images; Getty Images.