A controversial climate advertising campaign

A few days ago, an Albertine organization launched an advertising campaign on climate change. Billboards have been the target of many criticisms to such an extent that the Association of Scientific Communicators of Quebec (ACS) has decided to intervene and in turn disseminate its message on signs along the highway.

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In Montreal, freeway advertising space was purchased by, an organization described as "climate skeptic" "since it is dedicated to the propagation of the idea that global warming is not due to human activity. "
Source: TVA Nouvelles
For example, the message on one of these signs reads: “The sun is the main driver of climate change… not you. Not CO2 ”.
“The campaign is an initiative of the Friends of Science group, which has a mission to 'educate the public about climate science'. On its website, the Alberta organization promotes the view that the Sun is "the main direct and indirect driver of climate change." For ACS, a non-profit organization that brings together science communication professionals, the Friends of Science offensive constitutes a "direct attack on intelligence and scientific culture."
Source: Radio-Canada
The following activities will help students determine who is telling the truth about climate change.


At the end of the activities, the student will be able to:
- Understand what “climatoseptic” means;
- Understand why the Friends of science advertising campaign causes controversy;
- Explain the reaction of the Association of Scientific Communicators of Quebec (ACS);
- Validate the quality of various websites concerning climate change;
- Create a poster containing a scientific advertising message;
- Determine whether the advertising posters created by the other students are true or not.

Suggested Activities

ACTIVITY 1: Analyze the news to better understand it

First, ask students if they are aware of the controversy surrounding highway billboards in Montreal.
Then invite students to read the following articles in order to fully understand the situation.
Article 1
Climate skeptics appear in Montreal
TVA Nouvelles, November 20, 2014.
Article 2
Climatoscepticism: on a sign near you ...
La Presse, November 20, 2014.
Article 3
A crowdfunding campaign in reaction to climate-skeptic panels
Radio-Canada, November 27, 2014.
For each article, ask students to say what it mainly talks about. For example, they can summarize them in a short paragraph or register for an oral summary. Also, how are the three articles different?
Then ask different questions to the students in order to properly analyze the information:
- The title of article 1 is “Climate skeptics appear in Montreal”. What does the term “climatosceptic” mean?
- What message do the billboards pass?
- Why is the organization "Friends of Science", responsible for the advertising campaign, criticized?
- What means has been found to restore the facts?

ACTIVITY 2: Which source of information is the most reliable?

In this activity, students will need to determine whether different sources of information are reliable.
On their own or in teams, students should visit a variety of websites of their choice that discuss climate change. They should name the website in the first column and then determine if the website is reliable, moderately reliable, or unreliable. In the last column, they must justify their decision. They can consult resources such as Infosphere or Doing research can be learned! for help in rating websites.

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Finally, do a class count of which websites about climate change seem to be the most reliable. Also ask students to explain why it is important to consult many sources before determining whether information is valid.

ACTIVITY 3: Your advertising campaign

Invite students to design their own advertising campaign. Divide the class into teams of three or four. Half of the teams will have to create a poster with facts validated by quality sources and the other half will have to create a poster with unfounded facts. On each poster, whether it is true or not, the students will have to write their message followed by the words "do you believe it?" ".

Click on the image to enlarge.

Then, arrange the posters in the classroom so that everyone can see the creations of the other students. Finally, have students guess which posters present questionable information and use the web to validate or reject the messages conveyed by the posters.

More about the magazine

Friends of science
Official website of the Alberta organization
Climate: Not all advertising is good to read
Agence Science-Presse, November 20, 2014
Responding to scientific disinformation in Quebec
Website of the Association of Scientific Communicators of Quebec

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About the Author

Véronique Lavergne
Véronique Lavergne
Véronique is a librarian at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières and a trainer in educational technology for future teachers. She also holds a teaching certificate in the social universe at the secondary level and collaborates regularly with the organization L'École branchée.

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