"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Friday, August 10, 2007

Reality TV - an original way to help global warming

Global warming is among one of the top global problems. The effects of global warming are affecting man and ecosystems around the world. There are more heat waves, droughts, extreme weather conditions such as thunderstorms, tornados and hurricanes. Lives are being taken away and cities are destroyed. It also has an impact on economy since one percent of global GDP is required to be invested for the mitigation of climate change. The rising atmospheric temperatures will be reducing crop yields in the near future. It also facilitates the spread of tropical diseases, such as dengue fever and malaria. Because of glacier retreat organisms that live in the cold water habitat surrounding the glacier would be affected as well. The list of damages climate change goes on and on.

The greenhouse effect is a natural process where gases in the earth’s atmosphere trap the heat from the sun and keep the earth at an inhabitable temperature. These greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The problem is that over the last 250 years, carbon dioxide has risen by 31%. Data from the World Resources Institute shows that humans have added 2.3 trillion tones of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in the last 200 years. And where does this mass amount of excess gas come from? It comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal, fuel oil and natural gas and biomass burning. The world’s 7 leading countries: United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom plus Russia are responsible for release of 48.7% of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere.

Governments and scientists agree that we need to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degree Celsius. Report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts global temperature rises by the end of the century between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees Celsius, if we do not change the current situation that is going to extends into the future or maybe making it even worst. My mission for my project is to help mitigate global warming and get people involved in it. My vision for my project is to bring a unique approach to help global warming.

Governments have come together and created the Kyoto Protocol to help reduce climate change. The Kyoto Protocol is an amendment to the international treaty on global warming, limiting greenhouse gas emissions to the countries who signed. The objective of the protocol, using the exact words written on the treaty, is “Stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The protocol was opened for signature in March 1998. It was entered into force on February 16, 2005. 169 countries and other governmental entities have ratified the agreement. Countries that have not ratified and deserve to be mentioned are United States and Australia.

Non-governmental organizations such as Greenpeace participate in the act to reduce global warming as well. The organization has projects around the world happening right at this moment. These projects include: Yellow River Source Expedition, revealing the consequences of global warming on one of China’s most important rivers; Project thin ice 2005, documenting climate change in the Arctic; Greenpeace Energy Revolution- European Tour, driving the switch to renewable and energy efficiency, the only sustainable energy system that will enable us to stop climate change; and many more. Guided by principles of non-violence, activists of Greenpeace advocate about global warming throughout different places in the world.

Politicians and actors like Al Gore and Leonardo Dicaprio also take part in saving the environment. Gore’s “The Inconvenient Truth” and Dicaprio’s “The 11th Hour” both aim to educate the public about the situation of climate change.

After learning about this problem in great depth, as I was trying to come up with an idea for my project, a concept came to my mind: make a reality show! There is a reality show about building houses for people. There is a reality show about helping kids lose weights. There could be a reality show about helping saving the environment. The contestants would compete against each other and whoever wins gets hired at one of the most prestigious company. We limit contestants to those who are of business manager/owner profession. Each of the contestants are given 5000$, and they are required to use it to do a fundraiser of a designated type to raise money. However, promoting and organizing their own event would be done in their own ways. While doing the fundraiser, the contestants have to keep in mind that they are required to increase the public’s awareness on global warming and promote environmental friendly ways of living. The money they raise would be donated to the organizations such as Greenpeace that help environmental protection. Donald Trump is renown in the business world. But after his reality show “The Apprentice”, he is renown even among the ordinary folks. The power of media is immense and TV ratings for reality show are very high. Using this method, we can effectively spread the message of environmental protection.

I will first write a proposal and pitch my idea to the major networks. Once one of the networks has accepted it, I will contact the prestigious company and I will pitch my idea for the reality television show to the people in charge and persuade them that offering a job position will allow them to take part in helping reduce global warming. Together with the network, we will then schedule interviews with people who are interested in participating in reality television shows. Among those being interviewed, we will choose 3 of the most dynamic and diverse people. The network will provide the money that the contestant will use for the competition. When the show airs on television, the profit will go to the network. Once the contestants are chosen we will start filming. The contestants will be explained the rules by a host. The show will be 3 episodes long. There will be one event per episode and each event per contestant. There will be a concert, an auction, and also a golf tournament. The entire process will be filmed including how the contestant organizes his event. And a sufficient number of volunteers will be there to help our competitors with all these.

Organizing a concert is a challenging for any organizer; it will be a good chance to evaluate the contestant’s ability to see if he is fit for the job position. Once the contestant is assigned his task, he or she will have one month to organize the concert. He or she will need to convince a popular singer to agree to sing at the concert in order to attract a large audience to buy the tickets. The popular singer will also attract a big group of TV viewers. He or she will also need to book a place for the concert to take place and promote the concert to the public using various methods. One of which could be setting up booths on the street to sell tickets and distribute flyers that promote environmental friendly way of living. Tips to help mitigate global warming include switching to renewable energy, buying energy efficient appliances, replacing the lights with compact fluorescent lamps, avoiding stand-by for electronic appliances and turning off lights, using washers and dryers economically, trying to use bicycle more often and using public transportation and reducing air travel. At the same time, the competitor will spread the message that the money made selling the concert ticket will be sponsoring non-profit organizations that help reduce global warming.

Auction is another event I have chosen for one of the contestants to do. The contestant assigned to this task also has one month to prepare for his event. He will promote the idea of reducing global warming and encourage collectors to donate their collections as a gesture to save the earth. Explaining the grave conditions the earth is in currently will help a great deal. He will then send invitations to celebrities, politicians, and corporate owners. This will undoubtedly increase TV ratings. And they will definitely increase the price for the auctioning items for which they are sold.

Charity golf tournament is the last event I have selected. The contestant will also invite celebrities to participate in the golf tournaments. He or she will book the golf course in advance. Caterers will be hired to prepare lunch. The entrance fee that participants pay will be the money that he raises.

Once the show is done filming, we will air it on television one episode per week. We will announce the winner of the contest in the last episode. We will also create a website based on the TV show which contains information about climate change, suggestions for how to improve the situation and summary of each week’s episode. It will have a forum for the TV audience to interact with each other. It will even allow people to make a donation. And I believe executing this plan would contribute to society by helping reduce global warming and make a difference in this world.

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