Al Gore’s big idea plans to use Internet

Gore has planned one of the largest advocacy campaigns in U.S. history.

Political and social causes often become associated with celebrity faces that provide accessible leadership to the issues and organize the movement. But few in the public eye have fought as tirelessly for an issue as Al Gore has for the state of the environment. Fresh off a Nobel Peace Prize, his newest venture is a three-year, $300 million goliath campaign that aims to keep climate in the forefront of political discussion.

The Alliance for Climate Protection’s “we” campaign plans to use the Internet and classified ads to amass some 10 million volunteer activists to push for government involvement in climate change. These numbers would surpass the size of the civil rights and anti-war movements in the ’60s. On top of recruitment, the campaign will advertise on shows such as “American Idol” and “The Daily Show.” Big advertising dollars will most likely make “we” the most costly advocacy campaign in U.S history, beating the $100 million spent in the first year of the 1998 anti-smoking campaign.

While previous efforts to shift the public’s view of environmental issues targeted individual actions, like light bulb and automobile usage, this time the campaign is targeting change in federal law by organizing the public under common, “eco-friendly” goals. All candidates have taken a more progressive role than President George W. Bush’s industry-friendly policies, but the public needs to prove they care about climate change to keep the next president accountable. The current level of regional division of environmental policies shows the need to have an administration with clear goals about reducing environmental impact. And Congress won’t offer another bill this year, which will likely land the next president immediately in the driver’s seat on the environment.

The campaign is something to keep an eye on, and an important reminder that issues like climate change need to be kept visible when the focus on Iraq and the economy seem to dominate national discussion. Media campaigns have changed public opinion before, and we hope this one follows suit.