As of right now, 9:00PM UTC on June 18th, 2012, approximately 1.4 tweets per second are flooding the Twittersphere containing the hashtag #endfossilfuelsubsidies. With the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development only two days away, environmental activist agencies across the globe are harnessing the power of the social web to protest the nearly one trillion dollars in government subsidies that are handed to the fossil fuel industry every year.
Agencies such as Oxfam, the World Wildlife Fund, 350.org, and Avaaz scheduled a worldwide Twitterstorm to begin at 6am UTC. As we can see below, the social web started right on time. Though the passionate Twitter users themselves fueled the significant rises in mentions of #endfossilfuelsubsidies, we can see two distinct spikes in activity directly corresponding to celebrity involvement. At 8:00 am UTC, The Huffington Post published an article on the topic by Robert Redford, and at a bit past 2:00pm UTC, Stephen Fry, Mark Ruffalo, and Dougie Poynter all posted the hashtag in their status updates:
Over 750,000 electronic signatures have made it onto today’s petition so far to “end taxpayer handouts to the fossil fuel industry”, which will be submitted to the 20 conference summit leaders. It is not unreasonable to assume that a good number of those signatures came from Twitter users privy to today’s storm. Such whirlwinds of information cascades require a new type of stormtracker, and Topsy is up to the challenge. In pursuit of the social winds started by few and continued by many, we can track their paths in real-time and pinpoint the influential users that contribute the occasional gust.