Alaska Barack Obama Climate Change

Obama uses Instagram over speech as climate change wake-up call


By Tony Connelly | Sports Marketing Reporter

September 3, 2015 | 7 min read

President Obama has used his trip to Alaska to highlight key climate change issues and his decision to raise awareness through Instagram spotlights a systemic shift in the way politicians are presenting their policy agendas.

The commander in chief has taken over the White House Instagram account during his three day tour of Alaska and has used the photo and video sharing platform to sound the alarm on the warming of the planet.

Obama wasn’t visiting to make any grand policy announcements or promises of massive federal aid. The trip served to highlight the shocking changes to Alaska’s breath taking landscape while building support for a global climate treaty and pressuring world leaders to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The trip to Alaska itself is significant in raising awareness of global warming effects, the north western state is experiencing warming twice as fast as any other state and communities there are already suffering from the effects of global warming as the lay witness to some of the swiftest shoreline erosion in the world and rising tides. Instagram has served as the perfect channel for Obama to garner support for the cause. The photos he has taken for the White House Instagram account clearly show the massive retreat of melting glaciers and the incredible natural beauty of the landscape. The beauty and fragility contained within the images are at least equally as powerful as a speech and crucially, they are easier to share and remember.

Portraying a policy agenda visually represents a shift in the way world leaders can communicate with the public and the levels of engagement and media attention which have stemmed from Obama’s posts suggests that it may occur more frequently.

The approach appears to have been hugely popular, with over 220, 000 likes across the 10 photos he has posted and hundreds of comments of praise and support, each of which has been accompanied by a short tag rallying support for the cause.

During the three day trip Obama also appeared on an episode of Bear Grylls survior show, Running Wild with Bear Grylls, in which the two travelled throughout the region to observe the effects climate change has had. The episode is due to air later this year.

We need to make sure our grandkids can see this. -bo

A photo posted by The White House (@whitehouse) on

His decision to document the trip on Instagram follows on from a study by Piper Jaffray earlier this summer which found that US teens cited Instagram as the most important social media platform with 32 per cent ranking number one followed by Twitter with 24 per cent and Facebook at 14 per cent.

Obama’s trip to the Arctic Circle is the first by a sitting U.S. president and his use of multiple social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook has added a crucial visual element to his plight to wake-up the world on global warming.

Alaska Barack Obama Climate Change

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