Topic: Climate Literacy

Climate Literacy (origin: NOAA)

Climate literacy—sometimes called “climate change literacy”—does not have a widely accepted definition yet. The notion of climate literacy was first used by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in 2006 as a synonym for “climate science literacy,” i.e. “an understanding of your influence on climate and climate’s influence on you and society.” The concept of climate science literacy received more extensive treatment in NOAA’s 2009 brochure “Climate Literacy: the Essential Principles of Climate Science.” However, for scholars in the environmental humanities, climate science literacy—or, understanding the science behind climate change—is not exactly the same as climate literacy—or, understanding our entanglements with, responsibilities in, and agency in regard to climate change. Climate literacy, Hiser and Lynch argue, is a wider concept involving not just “various disciplinary lenses” but the kind of knowing that is “emotionally charged and intimately connected to one’s worldview and paradigms of time, space, and nature” (98). 

As proposed by Oziewicz (2023), climate literacy refers to “an understanding of the climate emergency—its facts, drivers, impacts, and urgency—that centers on developing values, attitudes, and behavioral change aligned with how we should live to safeguard the Earth’s integrity in the present and for future generations” (p.44). This framing of climate literacy as an integrated and multidisciplinary competence centers two forms of knowledge: the awareness that the present moment offers us a narrow window for transformative action that can usher in an ecological civilization (see hope and rapture ideologies); and an understanding of how climate change today is driven by human activity in general and the ecocidal operations of neoliberal capitalism in particular (see Capitalocene). The direct relationship between neoliberalism and climate change—explored, among others, in Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (2014), Klein’s The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal (2019), and Michael Mann’s The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back the Planet (2021)—is a fundamental component of climate literacy.

©2023 ClimateLit (Marek Oziewicz)

Related terms: climate change denial, systemic drivers [of climate change], climate activism,ecological civilization,ecocide, neoliberalism

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World Without Fish

by Mark Kurlansky

“You cannot afford to be passive. … The survival of not only the oceans but of our world is at stake”

by Carole Lindstrom

“We are stewards of the Earth / Our spirits have not been broken / We are water protectors. WE STAND!”

by Yuval Noah Harari

“Animals and plants depend on one another, so if something happens to one kind of creature, it usually influences many others. And this law even applies to you”

One Earth, cover

by Megan Herbert, Michael E. Mann

“I’m just a kid. What can I do? / Someone must help us. It’s now up to you.”

by Penelope Arlon, Susan Hayes

“This is a book that turns itself into dozens of eco-projects to inspire you to think more about the planet we all call home.”

by April Pulley Sayre

“Thank you for beginnings, / for endings, / for lifetimes. Thank you for being / our home”

by Yuval Noah Harari

“Homo Sapiens has grown so accustomed to being the only human species that it’s … eas[y] for us to imagine we’re the pinnacle of creation, separated from the rest of the animal kingdom by an unbridgeable chasm”

by Deborah Hopkinson

“Earth is our one and only planet to care for, love, and preserve”

by Eileen Spinelli

“One Earth, so beautiful / Remember—only one”

by Loll Kirby

“I am smart enough to read this book. I care enough to hear the news. I know enough to make the change. I am old enough to save the planet”.