Kids Try to Solve Climate Change in PSA Campaign, Because Grownups Certainly Aren’t

Complete with hand-drawn diagrams

Climate change isn't your problem—it's your children's problem. At least, it will be if the world's current crop of adults fail to act. 

A new campaign from the government of Ontario, brought to you by Grey Canada, makes that very argument with help from pop environmentalist David Suzuki. In the first ad, Suzuki lectures an auditorium full of kids on the failure of grownups to sufficiently address global warming: 

In the second ad, a handful of the children offer their own descriptions of the crisis, and propose solutions—complete with hand-drawn diagrams:

Overall, it's meant to drive awareness of, and participation in, the province's sweeping new five-year plan to address climate change, which will spend billions on initiatives that include better incentivizing electric cars, improving mass transit and home heating systems, and reducing commercial emissions, as well as a cap-and-trade system (part of a marketplace with Quebec and California).

There's little doubt that the campaign's substance and spirit are on point. Appealing to adult concern for the next generation is one of the better ways to frame the global warming issue, making it more personal than some abstract future catastrophe … and linking it to the biological impulse for self-preservation. 

But its method might not be the most endearing strategy. Terrifying kids with a doomsday message—however accurate—with the explicit goal of scaring their parents, feels more like bullying than persuasion. And failing to transparently present new information about global warming, or potential solutions, might be a missed opportunity to actually educate adults on their options.

While the second ad does propose concrete, practical fixes, it is so mixed up with kids being cute and fantastical that it fails to be particularly convincing. Childish indignation as a cultural trope is more likely to produce grownup amusement than grownup compliance. In short, it's too easy for skeptics to dismiss, and anyone who finds the message resonant is likely already part of the proverbial choir, convinced of the looming danger. 

In contrast, the campaign's website offers a slew of specific options for fighting climate change: Buying local groceries to reduce shipping emissions, walking or cycling instead of driving, and weatherproofing homes to cut down on energy consumption, for example.

Those are all useful suggestions, which, presented to adults by kids—as if the grownups were the children—might actually seem less condescending. Plus, after decades of failure to take responsibility, it would be plenty accurate, and shameful.

CREDITS

Agency: Grey Canada

Chief Creative Officer: Patrick Scissons

Creative Director: Joel Arbez

Art Director: Oliver Brooks

Writer: Mike Richardson

Account Service: Paul Curtin, Kelly Ko, Lindsay Proudfoot

Producers: Sam Benson, Dena Thompson

Print Producer: Elizabeth Macaulay

Digital Producer: Jaan Yew Woon

Production Company: Spy Films

Director: Tamir Moscovici

Editorial: Saints Editorial

Editor – Let Them Figure it Out – Danica Pardo

Editor – Kids Talk Climate Change – Melanie Hider

Post Production: Alter Ego

Audio: Eggplant