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Word

Author,
Preferred Title, Initiative and Organisation
Definition

The texts are written by people working on climate justice advocacy and activism in a wide range of fields. Some words are positive, they shed light on some of the barriers we have overcome. And others are negative, born from some of the walls that stand in our way. The writing is as poetic or scientific as the author choses.
Further Resources

Each definition is accompanied by further reading/media on the topic. The resources may include links to videos, books, podcasts, documentaries, organisations or articles selected by the author, providing context to the word.
Images

Each word is matched with one image. They belong to a photographic body of work by Pamela EA on the contemporary youth-led climate justice movement and Earth’s natural beauty.

1.5 °C
Benjamín Carvajal Ponce,
Founder of Uno.Cinco

The concept and definition of 1.5 is one we know all too well: it stems from the Paris Climate Accord and it is about limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But to us it means more. It represents ambition around a common goal. It is a goal that does not have borders. It is not limited to any language or culture. It is a goal that the entirety of society, irrespective of a person’s individual role, can stand behind. We must acknowledge our disproportionate responsibility and our disproportionate capacity. However, everyone has the power to act. The use of such a simple term is intentional. We understand that 1.5 amounts to more than a number, more than a policy agreement. It is a climate justice that is beyond emissions, centering people and ecosystems. We must remember it is not too late. We have time to act, and that time is now.
Catalina Santelices, Glasgow © 2021, Pamela EA

3.5 %
Bill McKibben,
Author, educator, environmentalist, and co-founder of 350.org



This totemic number comes from the work of Harvard political scientist Erica Chenoweth, whose global database of nonviolent social protests finds that when that percentage of citizens engage in a peaceful civil uprising, they are nearly certain to win. (She also finds that nonviolent resistance is twice as successful as the use of force.) There are 8 billion people on the planet; that would imply the climate crisis requires a movement of 280 million people, which is a lot of human beings, but easier to imagine than, say, 50%. In a sense, the rule recognizes that most people most of the time will be apathetic and uninvolved, which makes it hard to mount an uprising, but also hard to stop one once it gets started, especially if there's no violence to repulse bystanders. Historians, Chenoweth notes, have tended to fixate on violent upheavals, and so have the movies--but “ordinary people, all the time, are engaging in pretty heroic activities that are actually changing the way the world – and those deserve some notice and celebration as well.
FFF Climate Strike, NYC © 2022, Pamela EA

Activist
Tori Tsui,
Intersectional climate activist, mental health advocate and Co-Founder of Bad Activist Collective



The word activist has become such a term of contention. I see squabbles breaking out over who gets to be an activist and who deserves the term. It’s as though one has to jump through certain hoops and tick a number of boxes before qualifying as one. I’ve seen how the far right has described it as a woeful and sanctimonious signal for wokeness.  I’ve witnessed people distance themselves from the term for fear of being impostors even though what they do by definition constitutes activism. The amount of energy that gets expended back and forthing about semantics might be better spent elsewhere. My good friend and fellow co-founder of the Bad Activist Collective - a space striving to dismantle the guise of perfectionism in activism - Julia Gentner aptly describes being an activist as ‘low hanging fruit’. I couldn’t agree more, the litmus test of activism has a low threshold. Seriously, anyone can be an activist. An activist is someone who campaigns for social or political change, whatever that means to you. If we’re to talk about the nuances of activism, we should really be talking about inequalities within activism, the co-opting of activism for capital gain and the fostering of individualism within activist spheres. Not all activists are equally revered, granted the same opportunities, listened to or amplified. Not all activists act on the importance of coalition building and organising. Not all activists believe in nuance and celebrating their comrades. That’s when one might say not all low hanging fruit is given the same resources and attention as other more so-called voluptuous and nutritious counterparts. Because like most things, this capitalistic system has found a way to seep into the radical woodworkings of activism and dub some activists more valuable than others, fostering individualism over coalition, prioritising the privileged few. I imagine the fruit born from the trees of eurocentricity and performance are prized much more highly in this system than those grown from the foundations of survival and love for the earth and its people.
An Apple Tree, Mallorca © 2021, Pamela EA




© 2021, Climate Words. All rights reserved.
A youth-led database of words that have emerged from the climate crisis.