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Gore Climate Change Broadcast Breaks Online Viewership Record

Dec 5, 2012; 11:43 AM ET

A live, 24-hour online broadcast led by former Vice President Al Gore set a Ustream record for online viewership over a 24-hour period, with 16.8 million views from more than 14 million unique viewers worldwide.

The number of viewers tripled from last year, demonstrating, the program's producers say, rapidly growing interest in climate change.

A past event from The Climate Reality Project. Photo by U.S. Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia

The Climate Reality Project's "24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report" featured more than 100 scientists, academics, business leaders, journalists, public officials and advocates for action on climate change. The broadcast began at 8 p.m. Nov. 14 in New York City, continued live from studios around the world and closed with a 7 p.m. segment Nov. 15 in New York.

The broadcast included panel discussions and films highlighting the "dirty weather," such as Superstorm Sandy, that has become more frequent and more intense in recent years due to human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.

"In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and other examples of dirty weather taking place all over the world, the global interest in '24 Hours of Reality' is proof positive that people recognize the imperative to act now on the climate crisis," said Maggie Fox, president and CEO of the Climate Reality Project. "Through our partnership with Ustream, this year's '24 Hours of Reality' highlighted the costs of further inaction and showcased the solutions and tools available now."

Ustream, based in San Francisco, is a leading provider of online broadcast streaming technology.

"We're proud to be working with Climate Reality for the second year in row, breaking audience records for live online broadcasts," said Brad Hunstable, head of Ustream. "Only Ustream is able to instantly scale its network to bring a global community together and educate the world about this pressing environmental concern."

Superstorm Sandy was a big draw

The first "24 Hours of Reality" broadcast in 2011 drew more than 8 million online views with 5 million unique viewers.

In addition to breaking Ustream's viewership record, this year's event generated 146 million Twitter impressions, topping the 90 million from last year. The hashtag #dirtyweather was a trending Twitter topic Nov. 15.

Viewership was greatest in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Australia, with 90 percent of viewers located in the United States, said Bill Rigler of the Climate Reality Project.

"We essentially threw out the script and recalibrated to talk about Superstorm Sandy and extreme weather," he added.

In response to the storm, which hit the northeastern United States on Oct. 29, the producers highlighted the insurance industry's role in underwriting property in flood- or hurricane-prone regions and how extreme weather has become an increasing concern among the national security apparatus.

"We were prepared to explain the existence of extreme weather, but Sandy made that case for us," Rigler said.

Throughout the program, viewers were urged to sign a pledge to be involved in demanding action on climate change.

Twenty thousand people signed the pledge, a number that exceeded expectations, Rigler said.

"The pledge was an opportunity for people to take the next step and be more active," he said.

The Climate Reality Project says it is one of the world's leading organizations dedicated to mobilizing people around climate change, with more than 2 million members worldwide. The group was founded by Gore, who continues to serve as chairman.

Rigler said, "I think the fact that the viewership record was broken sends a message to the media and, especially, elected officials that more and more people are talking about climate change, more and more people are aware of the causes, and more and more people understand the cost of inaction."

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500. E&E Publishing is the leading source for comprehensive, daily coverage of environmental and energy issues. Click here to start a free trial to E&E's information services.

Robert S. Eshelman, E&E reporter

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