”Today marks the beginning of a new era of action addressing the climate crises. Together we can focus the world’s attention. This is 24 hours of reality.” This is the voice of Al Gore. On 14 and 15 September the Climate Reality Project launched an online event entitled “24 hours of reality.” The 24-hour event broadcast one-hour documentaries from various countries, presented by climate change experts and activists.
Joining the event through Facebook, you learn that the wildfire season in the US has increased by 78 days during the last three decades, that although Turkey has been using water delivery solutions since the beginning of the last century it is at risk of running out of water, and that large cities in South Africa face great damage from rising water levels.
The online movies also provided the opportunity to learn more about the science of the climate debate and why some scientists and politicians claim that global warming is a natural process. It was presented in educational terms and in various languages.
But despite of the project’s effort to speak to the people it is doubtful that it will convince those that are not already aware and involved in fighting climate change, according to Sarah Refaat, an Egyptian climate activist
“There are a lot of online events happening, and I’m not sure that this event will reach out to people who are not specifically involved in climate related issues," Refaat says. Although skeptical, she hopes that the campaign will lead to more focus on the issue.
“This event is 24 hours worldwide and there are so many stories to be told. And it’s no longer just stories about polar bears. It is about people and how this is affecting everyone of us,” she says.
The Climate Reality Project does not deal with Egypt or any other North African country specifically, but Refaat says that's no reason to believe that Egypt doesn’t have climate problems.
“I think they chose Dubai because it’s an oil producing country and therefore very visibly contributing to the problem of CO2 emissions. But although we don’t pollute as much as Dubai there is still a lot we could do better,” she says.
“Egypt alone produces as much CO2 as all of the sub-Saharan countries together, so there are no reasons not to act. And the thing with climate problems is that everyone has to be a part of the solution.”
The videos on the website (www.climaterealityproject.org) have been watched by 324,4021 people and the number is increasing. Meanwhile environment bloggers doubt that the event will have any effect, and question whether the political character of Gore is actually helping the cause.
According to Refaat, all the fuss about the event helps.
“Al Gore is famous figure on climate and he attracts attention. It’s also thanks to him and his efforts that climate change has come to public attention the way it is today,” she says.