Can marketers save the planet?

Climate change, carbon offsets, solar power, wind farms, renewable energy, nuclear, Fukushima, population growth, poverty, starvation, GM vs organic farming, fair trade and ethical business, recycling, rainforest destruction, endangered species, cleantech. Just a few of the issues facing our planet. If, like me, you are genuinely interested and concerned by many of these topics, but also a little intimidated and confused, then I suspect you are very much in the majority.

The bottom line is we need to sort out what is happening to our planet and we in the marketing business are incredibly well-placed to take a leadership role and help bring about real change. We can’t afford to stall on this any longer and the challenges ahead require us to do a great deal more than just putting a Fairtrade logo on products.

Notwithstanding the politics, it strikes me that the biggest challenge is around education. These are complex issues with a huge number of interdependencies, and people need communications specialists to demystify things for them.

The inspiration behind my writing this is a new exhibition, called Hard Rain: What’ll you do now? which I visited this weekend at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. The Hard Rain Project is a not-for-profit company established to support public exhibitions and other communications that campaign for realistic solutions to the interlinked problems of climate change, poverty, the wasteful use of resources, population expansion, habitat destruction and species loss.

The exhibition’s launch at Kew Gardens is the start of a world tour and The United Nations Environment Programme will exhibit the display at the Rio Earth Summit in May 2012.

The exhibition is a masterclass in communication with powerful images, words and killer statistics displayed in a very compelling form. It was interesting to see how it grabbed the attention of families of all ages, with the vast majority of people walking away having learned some quite major stuff.

Did you know, for instance, that the world’s booming human population has grown from 3 billion to 7 billion in just 50 years? Or that more than three-quarters of the world’s people live in nations that are ecological debtors, where national consumption has outstripped their countries’ biological capacity? I commend this project to every marketer. For those unable to get to Kew, visit www.hardrainproject.com.

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