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How environmental activists are turning to Instagram to tackle climate change

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How environmental activists are turning to Instagram to tackle climate change


Last month beloved broadcaster and natural historian, David Attenborough, broke the Guinness World Record for the quickest time to gain one million followers on Instagram.

The 94-year-old achieved the follower milestone in just over four hours, beating actress Jennifer Aniston who previously held the title.

Attenborough enters the weird and wonderful world of perfectly posed selfies and carefully curated coffees to bring the stark warning of the severity of climate change.

His first Instagram post reads: “David Attenborough has spent a lifetime travelling, exploring the wild places of our planet and documenting the living world in all its variety and wonder. He’s also witnessed the damaged caused.

“Saving our planet is now a communications challenge. We know what to do, we just need the will. That’s why we want to share this message.”



David Attenborough joined Instagram at the age of 94

Attenborough has had a lifetime of success sharing the natural world with us all through many documentary series, but as social media increasingly becomes a place for social commentary, intellectual debate, and serious activism, he now enters the platform to spread his message further.

Attenborough is not the only one tackling the communications challenges faced within environmental activism through Instagram, as instead social media platforms are increasingly becoming spaces for serious activism.

Earlier this year photographer and activist Alice Aedy, along with twin brothers Finn and Jack Harries, launched the Instagram page earthrise.studio, to share the environmental issues we face in a simple and direct way.

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The trio have been consistently involved in climate change activism, but now through their new platform try to make the excess of scientific information more understandable for everyone.

The Instagram page identifies itself as ‘an online community and platform focused on communicating the climate crisis.’

“This platform will untangle the hard data, jargon and abstract graphs that have for too long dominated the climate conversation”, their first Instagram post reads.

While the impact of social media is increasingly receiving bad press for its reported role in increasing anxiety in teens, and causing societies reliance on social gratification through ‘likes’, its role within serious activism and political discourse seems more relevant than ever.

The communications challenges that Attenborough aims to tackle through social media are well known to environmental charities who work tirelessly to make the public aware of the significance of the climate crisis.

Maria Castellina, Director of Engagement for environmental campaigning community, Friends of the Earth, said: “The climate crisis can just often feel way too huge and way too big for people to deal with. How can I possibly make a difference is something we hear a lot.

“What we’ve really tried to do with our communications is show how those small changes, how those actions that you can take locally with your community can actually add up to a much bigger change.”

However, spreading the message of the climate challenges we face is just part of the problem, as charities are also tasked with turning this education and compassion into real, direct climate action.

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Castellina said: ‘‘You see it time and time again in polling recently that the climate crisis is consistently coming out as one of the issues that people care about the most.

“But what we need to do is turn that concern into action, and I think that’s where the communications challenge is.”




As the world looks to a new future after the coronavirus pandemic social media is crucial to continue spreading the climate challenges the world faces, but it is vital that this is combined with face-to-face action and bringing local communities together to enact real change.

Castellina added: “I don’t think social medias going to go away I think that’s always going to be an important part of how we communicate but I also think increasingly face-to-face is going to be really important in how we build that connection between people and the various different issues we’re fighting on.”

Find out how you can get involved with tackling climate change here .





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