What Is Environmental Activism and Why Does It Matter?
What comes to mind when you hear ‘environmental activists’? Most probably, Greta Thunberg – one of the world’s most popular activists – comes to mind. We all remember her heartfelt speech at the COP24. Despite her young age, she has made a profound impact, embodying climate activism and demonstrating the power of conviction combined with action. Environmental activism has become an increasingly influential force for changing societies worldwide. We live in a climate crisis, or rather, the climate era. Our human activities, coupled with the belief that our planet’s resources are infinite, have brought us to this point – where we are approaching the tipping points of our planetary boundaries and witnessing the consequences of climate change in our daily lives. In this article, I aim to explore the essence of environmental activism, introduce some well-known activists, and discuss why activism matters.
Environmental activism? What, Who & Why?
Environmental activism refers to the efforts and actions taken by individuals or groups to protect, advocate for, and promote the well-being of the environment. Environmental activists work towards addressing various issues such as climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. They raise public awareness through education and media, advocate for policy changes, volunteer for relevant organizations, and promote sustainable practices. Their goal is to inspire positive change, influence decision-makers, and encourage society to protect the environment and ensure a healthier and more sustainable future for our planet.
The critical aspect of activism is taking action and working towards positively impacting the environment. Activists are very driven people, not satisfied by the status quo. Activists are everywhere, not only the ones you see protesting in the street. They are, for example, in Governmental institutions lobbying for clean energy policies, in the corporate world pushing to use business as a force for good, or in NGOs dedicating their energy to climate action.
I mentioned Greta Thunberg, but Jane Goodall, renowned for her work in the realm of wildlife protection, stands as another prominent environmentalist. With a focus on habitat conservation, she actively initiates and engages in projects contributing to this vital movement. Paul Franklin Watson, a Canadian environmental activist, is widely recognised for his significant contributions to marine wildlife conservation. He is the visionary behind establishing the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organization dedicated to marine conservation activism, specifically targeting anti-poaching efforts and employing direct action strategies.
David Attenborough, a foremost natural history filmmaker, is renowned not only for his career as a broadcaster but also as one of the famous environmental activists. You might have seen some of his documentaries on Netflix; if not, you know what to do next. In addition, Vandana Shiva, an Indian scholar and prominent figure, is an environmental activist, advocate for food sovereignty, ecofeminist, and author. Shiva has written over 20 books, earning her the reputation as the “Gandhi of grain” due to her extensive activism in the anti-GMO movement.
Many others are doing outstanding work using their voice and power in service of our environment. Activists play a crucial role in protecting the planet and raising public awareness. People worldwide must understand the implications of our climate crisis and how we can all contribute to reversing it.
This is why environmental activists are so important; no matter how small their contribution is, they can awaken people in their circle to our environmental problems and create a ripple effect. Becoming an environmental activist can start by educating yourself on environmental issues and finding your mission and what you stand for. You can join environmental organizations and volunteer, use social media to advocate for change, collaborate and join communities of like-minded people.
Environmental activism is a collective endeavor that empowers us to make a difference. We can educate and motivate others to take action, fostering a shared responsibility for a sustainable future. Ensuring equitable access to a livable planet is crucial, and safeguarding our environment must remain a top priority. By recognizing our capacity for positive change, we can all contribute to creating a brighter future for humanity and the planet we call home.