Getting the Word out

Some NGOs have a reputation as rabble-rousers, constantly raising a ruckus. Greenpeace, for example, is famous (or is that infamous?) for unfurling enormous banners from high-rise buildings, off suspension bridges, or anywhere else their efforts can draw attention — even if it's against the law.

These groups know that their banners won't make an immediate difference. They're doing it for the guaranteed media coverage of their dramatic actions, which ensures that people will address the issue in a public forum.

Following the money

Although most NGOs are working toward a common goal, they're not all on the same page. Some organizations give voice to the very few scientific skeptics. In those cases, determining where a group's funding comes from can be educational.

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), for instance, gave a "journalism" award to Michael Crichton for State of

Fear, a science fiction novel that painted global warming as a huge conspiracy. (We take a closer look at this book in Chapter 16.) Not coin-cidentally, the AAPG's research is often funded by the oil industry. Another group, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), famously offered 810,000 to scientists to challenge the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Oil giant ExxonMobil funds the AEI.

Whether hanging banners or organizing mass protests, these acts are most certainly attention grabbers. But not everyone loves these actions — not even everyone in the climate change awareness community is a fan. Some argue that the time these NGOs spend in these attention-drawing endeavors would be better spent working with industry or government to find solutions, rather than slamming those industries and governments with banners. Advocates for the stunts point out that direct actions bring a visual element to global warming, a threat that looms like a slow motion tsunami which is hard for media to cover.

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