Twitter, storms, and Twitterstorms
Twitter is really great at letting you know about the weather. Twitter may be less great at impacting it. But two initiatives aim to try.
Activists from 350.org and partner organizations have launched a “Twitterstorm,” encouraging people to tweet the hashtag #endfossilfuelsubsidies today. Their aim is to both draw attention to government underwriting of the fossil fuel industry and to put pressure on participants at the Earth Summit in Rio to take effective action on climate change.
They have a benchmark in mind: to best a record set by Justin Bieber fans in which the same message (wishing him a happy birthday) was tweeted 322,000 times in one day. Tracking the hashtag, it looks like they have a ways to go — but any contest that aims to diminish the dominance of Justin Bieber is obviously one that receives my hearty endorsement.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, the Department of Transportation (ADOT) is having a poetry contest, as transportation agencies so often do. They’ve hit on a rarely recognized feature of Twitter: It’s the perfect size for a haiku. (You remember haiku. A poem in three lines; five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables.)
In addition to beatnik public service workers, Arizona is home to dust storms, also known to chuckling teenage boys as haboobs. The storms are getting worse, and more common, as higher aridity and lower vegetative cover makes it easier for dust to be kicked up. The blinding clouds sweep across roadways, making travel all but impossible. But Arizonans still try, causing accidents and road fatalities.
Enter the haiku contest. ADOT is asking people to tweet a haiku about the foolishness of trying to drive when you can’t see; the better ones are then retweeted. This Reuters article gives some examples, including:
world turns brown with dust
can’t see red taillights ahead
until — oh crap! Oops.
You’re not a Jedi
This is not Tatooine, Luke
Pull over now, man.
Hm. Too bad all the best poets are tied up doing road maintenance.
To recap: Can a Twitterstorm stop climate change? Can Twitter stop a climate-change-related storm? Well, no and no. But maybe tweeting about them can.