Here is a point one should no longer have to justify: climate change is catching up with us and we’re running out of time to turn things around. Most climate change deniers tend to fit into a certain demographic — older conservatives — and so it is no wonder that the key people pushing the climate change agenda online are millennials and Gen Zs. From taking steps to combat fast fashion, to using Instagram as a platform for civil disobedience, young people are showing up for the planet in more ways than one.
In this article, we discuss a different facet of climate change activism that has unfolded online: memes. The last time we spoke about memes, it was in relation to astrology and if there is anything we have come to know about them, it is that they are a wicked tool for expressing (political) opinions in an accessible manner.
Let’s take a look at 5 climate change meme accounts, in order of engagement rate, and the fun but important messages that they espouse.
5 – @woke_to_the_planet | 8.61% Engagement Rate
When humans won’t listen, it’s time to hit them where it hurts: their beloved dogs
…and their not-so-beloved sex lives
4 – @climemechange | 9.97% Engagement Rate
This account puts important issues at the forefront of popular culture. Like that time the Kardashians didn’t care about climate change at the MET Gala.
Or when Ed Sheeran lost to a bunch of energy-efficient appliances.
3 – @basicenvironmentalist | 10.83% Engagement Rate
This account leverages on the basic b*tch stereotype and serves hot takes on the environment. Not sure about you, but I’m no longer dating anyone who isn’t ✔️ GREEN ✔️
Thought your ex was abusive? Think again, Lauren. Your insistence on single-use plastic and double bagging your tuna sandwich is hurtful too.
2 – @climate_memes | 17.12% Engagement Rate
No one loves lower greenhouse gas emissions more than dads. Mom better get her priorities right.
1 squat = 1 less plastic bag? If only.
1 – @chicksforclimate | 17.31% Engagement Rate
This account is interesting because it combines feminism and environmentalism, which gives us memes that cancel cancel culture:
And calls out the intersectionality that plagues a lot of the world’s most pressing issues today:
Also worthy to note that it they have the most aesthetically pleasing feed.
Memes are great and all, but what is the real life impact?
The great thing about these accounts is that they don’t just rely on humour, which can often end up making light of a serious situation. @woke_to_the_planet, for example, is managed by the same person behind @personalbamboouk. The meme account is a lot more popular, which is natural when compared to a business or brand account, but it is clever to redirect followers from one account to the other. Additionally, it is also a clear effort to curb the impact of climate change by incentivising people to use bamboo products.
@climemechange takes a stance by talking about important issues (importantly) in their IG stories. They have addressed concerns ranging from the Green New Deal, to the IPCC, to the election of government officials that will take climate change seriously.
The @basicenvironmentalist runs a non-profit organisation called the Progression Foundation (@beprofoundorg) that focuses on animal rights and the climate. They raise awareness by making films that intend to spark change in society. Finally, @climate_memes is run by a student organisation @climatepedia_at_uci that holds regular meetings, town halls, and various other fundraising events to help save the deteriorating climate.
These accounts seem to be ‘by millennials, for millenials’ (and Gen Zs), which explains why more than half their audience is aged between 18-25, or 25-35 years old.
The classic meme and pop culture references that are made in the posts contribute to their effective messaging, thus also explaining the higher than average engagement rate. More importantly, however, they are backed up by direct and concerted efforts to make good on their views. Millennials have realised how much change can happen if we make it, and they are using all the tools at their disposal to ensure that what can be done for the climate is actually done.