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Going Social: How Advocating for the Environment has Gone Digital

The Role Social Media Plays in Nature Conservation and Preservation


Two people stare off into the distance at the leaves turning during Autumn in Connecticut. A river winds through the forest

Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue


 

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Worsening climate conditions are detrimental not only to the environment but to the general population of our planet as well. Research from the University of California - Davis found that climate issues damage the economy in ways that are potentially permanent and cumulative, with social consequences that adversely affect human welfare. Such broad-ranging consequences demand urgent action to mitigate the ill effects of the climate crisis. One of the best ways to do this is by making informed decisions when we engage with nature. When we immerse ourselves in the environment, we have the capacity to make positive changes to it — in other words, we can work to leave these places better than when we found them. Fortunately, with the rise of social media, environmental awareness is being spread in a more action-driven and digestible manner. Here’s why that’s important and how it’s being done.

a computer and various camping supplies lay spread out on a tree stump

Photo Credit: David McCumskay


Why Social Media is Critical to Environmental Advocacy

Signs from climate crisis reports seem to point to human activity as only being destructive to nature. But our participation can also be beneficial to the environment — and it can inspire us to do more. A New York Times article reports that the changes in environment, when lockdowns began in 2020, made evident what impact humans had in the natural world. Although some aspects saw positive changes — record low global carbon emissions and wildlife reoccupying spaces they had previously kept away from — this improvement was not universal. One crucial change was in how many governments, especially in developing countries, found themselves unable to pay for conservation and enforcement commonly funded by tourist activities. In response, global grassroots movements WWF and Wild Welfare sought to draw attention to environmental and animal welfare in their annual campaigns. Leveraging social media, these organizations asked participants to spread information and resources on what they can do to heighten accessibility and create positive change.

a tent pitched on the shore of a lake along the Tahoe Rim Trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Eastern California

Tahoe Rim Trail - Photo Credit: Ankit Jain


With how deeply our activities have tied us to the natural world, removing ourselves from the equation abruptly can destabilize established practices that have sustained the environment for years. But by spreading information and resources on how to travel and explore responsibly, our adventures can further propel conservation efforts.


One of the best ways to do this is by spreading this awareness on social media. Maryville University states that activism on social media invites this positive action by increasing visibility through sharing and networking. Social media can uplift users to coordinate community responses, share lived experiences, and amplify a united voice for collective action.

a woman utilizes her mobile device while out in nature, basking by a campfire

Photo Credit: Pathloom


How to Use Social Media to Promote Environmental Awareness

Use Empathetic Storytelling

Adopting an empathetic voice on social media, blogs, or other digital formats lets audiences be exposed to the human side of climate stories. Our post ‘Fires and Floating Trash’ details the writer’s struggle to avoid California’s wildfire smoke in 2020, only to be faced with pollution even under the refuge of Coastal Redwoods. It emphasizes the value of being immersed in nature and the disappointment and motivation to do better when encountering pollution in the wilderness. Going digital allows us to tell stories like this — stories that show the relevance of these issues to all of us and our communities as well.

Share Concrete Steps

Empathetic storytelling also allows us to get more people involved in efforts against the climate crisis. A Pew Research Center survey on environmental awareness finds that there's a correlation between Gen Z and Millennials seeing more climate change content online and acting more to address the issue. This is because the content we create and consume reaches people with similar resources as us. Therefore, the solutions presented — such as responsible garbage disposal, waste management, and using biodegradable products — are more accessible to us as well.


Instagram influencers promoting sustainable travel like Vivienne Dovi (@travellingwithmelanin), Jazzmine Raine (@jazzmineraine), and Lola Mendez (@lolamendez) have produced informative travel content in this manner. They go beyond offering practical eco-friendly tips like sustainable transport and clean-up efforts. They also share stories on getting involved with climate movements, as well as experiences relevant to those belonging to historically marginalized sectors of the population.


a random old time radio lies in a Texan meadow in a farm deep in Central Texas

Clearly a Primitive Form of Social Media - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue



Invite Collective Action

Not only does social media put us on the receiving end of informative content, but it also allows us to inspire and partake in discussions. It allows us to find communities with similar interests and beliefs that point us in the right direction. Here at Pathloom, we share information on how you can venture outdoors while avoiding polluting the area or disturbing the local wildlife. Whether it’s with us or with others, engaging in communities like these on social media allow for individualized methods of contributing to environmental preservation - something we can all get behind. Whether you’re out in nature or on your mobile devices, social media gives us the capacity to make our own contributions to helping the environment. By engaging in environmental advocacy on social media, we can effectively spread information on how humanity can coexist, and do our part to give back to the natural world.



 

Guest Writer Rosy Jeffersen is a freelance writer who is passionate about getting out in the world and sharing her experiences with readers. Deeply interested in social and climate issues, she believes that stories must be both informative and empathetic to get a message across.

 

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