Tell a science story – Ocean acidification

Prize Purse: $10,000
Client: Dialogue Earth
Tags: Dialogue Earth, Video Project, Environmental Science
Project Type: 90 Second Video
Submission Deadline: November 5, 2010 4:00PM


Dialogue Earth is in the business of impacting dialogue on timely issues by delivering great content that big, diverse audiences will trust. To get this done, they’re building a team of experts in science communication, social media, and content creation. First, they’re creating tools to understand online dialogue and what drives it. With that information, science experts will develop key points that storytellers get paid to turn into engaging multimedia content. Dialogue Earth believes that the Tongal Community can make that happen.

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION is a topic that scientists are increasingly concerned about. A recent study by a group at Yale suggests that only 25% of Americans have ever heard of the issue—let alone understand it. And, while it is ultimately connected to global warming (a related consequence of emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas), it is not currently a hugely polarized or politicized issue like global warming.

Project Objective

Dialogue Earth’s objective is to obtain impactful and creative 90-second videos focused on the subject of ocean acidification. Their specific goal for this campaign is to communicate this relevant science topic in a way that is engaging to wide-ranging audiences. They’re confident that this will lead to a more active and productive dialogue and, ultimately, informed decision making.

Project Details

This project will be worth a total of $10,000 and consist of two phases so there’s an opportunity to showcase a variety of skills.

PHASE 1: STORY – In 500 characters or less, come up with a creative and engaging story to help explain ocean acidification. This is not a detailed script, but a synopsis of the basic plot points the video should follow. Feel free to use David Mamet’s dramatic story paradigm for structure (i.e., Once upon a time…and then one day…and just when everything was going so well…when just at the last minute…). Don’t get hung up on details. Tell us big chunks of the story.

PHASE 2: VIDEO – Select one of the 5 winning Stories and make a 90-second Video based upon it. You can, but do not have to literally interpret every element of the Story. Think of it as a framework that you should work within. Be creative, capture the essence, be sure to address the key facts, and have fun with it.

Target Audience: The most important thing to think about is that these videos should appeal broadly, engaging people that have different opinions about environmental issues. Dialogue Earth is looking for content that works on both sides of the aisle, rather than content that preaches to the choir.

Judging Criteria: In addition to the usual criteria (creativity and production quality), this piece of content will be judged on how likely it is to appeal to various audiences — including conservatives and liberals, those who support environmental advocacy and those who do not. Also, while you should not be dissuaded from reading up on the issue of ocean acidification, you will be judged on how well you illustrate the facts presented below through a creative and engaging story.

The Challenge: Few Americans understand the issue of ocean acidification. Your challenge is to create a piece that, in 90 seconds or less, helps diverse audiences understand the issue enough so that they could correctly answer a few basic questions about it. We are not asking you to persuade them to call their congressperson—this is not a call to action. Imagine that a person types in “ocean acidification” in Google and your video is returned. Do they watch more than 10 seconds? After watching, do they say “okay, got it”? Would they think of sharing with a friend?

The Facts: The science on the cause of ocean acidification is straightforward. We ask you not to introduce any facts beyond those in the list below – If you do wish to introduce new facts or data, please have them approved by one of the Judges on the Discussion Tab. We’ll also be responding to any other science-based questions you may have in the Project Discussion.

• Carbon dioxide has been increasing in atmosphere over the past ~60 years and it is at levels not seen in nearly one million years.

• There’s a “fingerprint” from human activity on this increase, that is, the chemical nature of carbon dioxide emitted upon burning fossil fuels is distinct and can be shown to be the main contributor to the increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

• More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means more carbon dioxide dissolved in the ocean. This happens through well-understood equilibration processes.

• More carbon dioxide dissolved in ocean means the oceans become more acidic. This is occurring very gradually, yet measurably.

° Ocean acidity has increased by 30% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

° This increase is 100 times faster than any change in acidity experienced by marine organisms for at least the last 20 million years.

° Today’s human-induced acidification represents a rare event in the geological history our planet.

• The acidity of the ocean drives many chemical reactions in the ocean.

• Lots of marine life, including tiny plant-like creatures, such as coccolithophores, and corals, depend on these chemical reactions to exist. Typically they rely on this chemistry to build their shells, or in the case of corals, their entre structure.

° If the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to increase at the current rate, scientists expect the ocean will become corrosive to the

shells of many marine organisms by the end of this century.

° How or if marine organisms may adapt to the increasing acidity is not known.

• It is unclear how humans will be affected by ocean acidification, however, it is possible that increasingly acidic oceans will threaten food security, tourism, shoreline protection, and biodiversity.

More information and submission.

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OA-ICC Highlights

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