Facts, fear, personal actions, and even policy only get us part of the way in curbing the climate crisis. Another important aspect is addressing our underlying cultural norms. The pervasive American cultural norms of individualism, consumption, and instant gratification are causing massive damage to all of our natural systems. And humans are, for the first time ever, the prime driver of large-scale climate change. In just the last fifty years, we have catapulted humanity and the planet out of the Holocene era into the Anthropocene era—a new geological period where biogeochemical conditions are dominated by the impact of human activity, not natural processes.
The great news is that communication is humans’ superpower and the reason we wield this much power over the planet. From building ancient temples to combating COVID-19, compelling narratives unite people to achieve seemingly impossible tasks. With today’s climate emergency posing an existential threat to humanity, new narratives of resilience, prosperity, and health associated with a carbon-neutral economy are needed to replace negative climate narratives that it’s too late or too complex. While we are certainly living in challenging times, this is also an incredible time in history to be alive and embrace the unique opportunity to help shape the future of all life on earth. In short, it’s not game over, it’s game on!
It’s a bit like “Abbott Elementary” meets an evolved “Breakfast Club”
In this hilarious mockumentary, follow the misadventures of a diverse middle school climate club as they navigate the complexities of climate solutions while discovering unexpected truths about themselves, their friendships, and humanity.
Game On harnesses middle school awkwardness with cringe comedy and deadpan mockumentary interviews as it explores the highs and lows of growing up in this unique time when what we do—or don’t do—now will impact the rest of humanity’s ability to inhabit the planet. Funny, hopeful, and timely, this mockumentary takes place at Lincoln Middle School in a northern Saint Paul, Minnesota suburb. Through its engaging cast, we get a fresh perspective on the human experience as we feel life through the hearts of intense middle school emotional journeys. Together, we fall short, are wronged, compare ourselves, hurt, and feel stressed. There’s no limit to how characters can deal with these emotions. We also feel the students’ joys when they find connection, their hearts are open, and life is good. The hilarity is when the lines blur, and the students confuse non-issues with real issues.
Implementing climate solutions serve as the backdrop for each episode, so viewers naturally absorb new information. And the amusing and insightful mockumentary-style character interviews, along with ridiculous situations the students create, provide needed comic relief from the heavy topic of climate change.
With their futures in front of them, the students embrace the unique opportunity to help shape the future of all life on Earth. For these students, collectively throwing our up hands and saying “game over” isn’t a choice. It’s GAME. ON!
Why a TV pilot?
While climate change is certainly no laughing matter, we think approaching this serious topic with a little levity helps us confront it. Of course, documentaries are the typical method for delivering climate content. But we realize that’s not always what we feel like binge-ing on. Furthermore, documentaries reach an already interested audience. So, we’re creating a show that still presents real climate change solutions—but in an off-beat, funny style that appeals to a wider audience. Teaming up with Global Cooling productions, we seek to reshape popular culture through scientifically sound, mission-driven entertainment that informs the viewer.
Talking about climate change is hard and perhaps even scary. But no problem can be solved without people talking about it. Despite climate experts agreeing that climate change is real, caused by humans, and poses a threat to our children’s ability to live out their natural lives to old age, there is currently shockingly little action—or even conversations. As climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says, “If no one is talking about it, how important can it be?” Furthermore, Yale Climate Communications confirms that 72% of Americans realize climate change is happening, and only 36% of Minnesotans occasionally discuss climate change, which is a bit higher than the nationwide average of 35%.
We All Need Food and Water’s innovative climate solutions-centered programming harnesses the joy and excitement of working together to create a better world through family-friendly, community-building events. This unique approach helps shift the pervasively negative climate change narrative that is often shrouded with doom, distance, distraction, fear, and helplessness to clarity, engagement, hope, and action.
Change Social Norms & Social Diffusion
(i.e., sharing first-person perspectives or experiences)
Individuals tend to adopt the behavior of others because we are social animals. Social diffusion is based on the premise that behavior change in a population can be initiated and then will diffuse to others if enough natural and influential opinion leaders within the population visibly adopt, endorse and support an innovative behavior.
Expected Outcomes of the TV Pilot
Planting Seeds of Cultural Change
Compelling stories connect us to diverse characters, make us experience the world through a new lens, and make us feel. Neuroscience indicates that emotions are a signal to the brain that whatever we are experiencing is important. So, the brain carefully stores emotionally charged information in deeper parts, such as the cerebellum, which improves information processing and makes it easier to retrieve the data later. The more we relate to a narrative, the more likely we will be able to recall the information presented in a story and improve the odds that we will act on the information shared.
THE FUTURE IS NOW. Our actions today will greatly benefit today’s youth and future generations. Without action, our planet is estimated to be 6.4 °F warmer by the time today’s babies turn seventy-seven. What would a 6.4 °F degree temperature increase mean? On a daily basis, a several-degree change is normal. But on a global scale, the last time the planet experienced a similar temperature difference was the Ice Age when it was five to nine degrees cooler! The changes the environment, our farming systems, and available fresh water will undergo are mind-boggling. No aspect of life will go unchanged.
Minimum reach of 15,000 people, with a potential reach of millions. Today’s shifts will help today’s children and future generations avoid the worst effects of climate change.
We realize that making it big onto prime-time TV or Netflix and being in the households of millions is a long shot. However, we see a niche and believe it’s worth the effort to try something new and courageous. At a minimum, we estimate our education and outreach about this unique project will easily reach 15,000 individuals. Outreach avenues we will use include presentations to local civic clubs (e.g. Rotary), press releases to news outlets, social media campaigns, representatives we pitch to, and participants of the Hollywood Climate Summit.
We All Need Food and Water’s educational climate programming aims to jumpstart and help normalize difficult-to-start climate conversations because our warming planet poses grave and immediate health and economic threats to humanity, with the most severe harm from climate change falling disproportionately upon underserved communities. These communities are often the least able to prepare for, and recover from, heat waves, poor air quality, flooding, food insecurity, and other impacts. Our goal is to influence positive behaviors and motivate the broader community to talk about the climate crisis. Other programs we have are family-friendly FUN (Future Unfolds Now) events to gather groups doing a fun activities and holding informational sessions while we have people there.
Extreme weather events such as flooding, tornadoes, and heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense due to rising temperatures, which are likely to increase even further over the coming years. Disadvantaged communities are often among those most affected by these changes. Furthermore, people living in these communities often lack access to resources like healthcare and education that would help them prepare for and recover from extreme weather events.
In addition to poor air quality, disadvantaged communities may also face additional challenges when it comes to combating pollution. For example, these communities often lack the resources and political influence needed to push for effective pollution reduction policies. As a result, it is especially important for community groups such as We All Need Food and Water to work alongside activists and policymakers to find creative solutions that can benefit these neighborhoods.