Sunday, November 10, 2019

Environmental Activism in the Information Age: Three Emerging Trends

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The Information Age provides new opportunities for young environmental activists to influence public thought with a broader audience. I have noticed three major trends that I thought I would share with my readers. These trends evolved from pre-Information Age activities, but the Internet provides a massive platform to share activism with the world.

1. Documenting individual action. There are many individuals out there who do individual actions and share them with large Twitter or Facebook followers thereby influencing large numbers of people. While there are many examples of people who are doing amazing things, one of the best examples is Edgar McGregor who is a climate striker (more on that in 2 below) who collects buckets of trash every day on hikes and shares the results of his trash pick ups on Twitter. You can follow him at @edgarmcgregor He also posts a ton of great information about climate and sustainability. The fact that he is personally making a commitment to help clean up the planet provides inspiration to others to take action and be part of the solution, not part of the problem. He provides great authenticity via his daily work to clean up natural landscapes.

2. Climate strikes. Climate striking started in 2015 when students took time off of school during the UN climate meetings in Paris to protest the lack of global action on climate change. Since then, climate strikes have taken off and become more common. Today, millions of youth around the world are involved with climate strikes and the numbers increase every season. They have been popularized, in part, through the action of Greta Thunberg and other youth activists. Young people all over the world are coming together and helping to drive public opinion on climate change. They take direct local action and also share stories about how climate change is impacting their lives and their communities. They share their activism on the Internet and inspire young and old all over the world. One of my inspirations for this type of activism is Leah Namurgerwa, a 15 year-old climate activist from Uganda. She creates a great deal of Twitter content. She takes direct action by planting trees and encouraging others to do so, especially young girls. She promotes environmental activism and action throughout Africa, including via the promotion of climate strikes. She has an amazing Twitter feed at @NamugerwaLeah

3. Documenting environmental change and destruction. Many activists are trying to share the real-time change happening in their local environment by posting photos or videos online. We can see the impact of sea level rise in real time on small islands and also see how the climate is changing in places like Alaska or northern Sweden. We can see the fires in the Amazon as they are happening and  identify poachers who kill endangered species. There are many of these activists doing this type of work. One, Virginia Hanusik (@virginiahanusik) has been documenting climate change and climate adaptation with some amazing photography. 

Am I missing any other trends? If you have some thoughts on the topic or some other environmental leaders who use the power of the Internet that you want to share with others, please leave your thoughts in the comments. 

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