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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by Vanessa Nakate

“We believe that at the center of this effort must be a genuine commitment not only to environmental, racial, and climate justice, but to the empowerment of girls and women, who are facing the crisis most acutely and are at the forefront of efforts to combat it.”

by K. O'Neill

“I know our village is small, and we can only do small things to help the sea. But I still think we should do them. Even if other people are harming the reef, it doesn’t make it okay for us to as well.”

by Jon Scieszka

“That’s it, Homo Sapiens—the hard and inescapable truth. I am your Perfect Planet. I will take care of you. But you have to take care of me”

by Sy Montgomery

“School is not the only place to find a teacher.”

by Ryan Coogler

“Wakanda is strong enough to help others and help ourselves.”

by Robin Wall Kimmerer

“Children hearing the Skywoman story from birth know in their bones the responsibility that flows between humans and the earth.”

by Deborah Hopkinson

“I learned that in twenty years, the number of monarchs has fallen by ninety percent. The problem is so big, and butterflies are so small.”

by Jason Chin

“With so many species living in such a small space, it’s no wonder coral reefs are called cities of the sea.”

by Dara McAnulty

“All birds live brightly in our imagination, connecting us to the natural world, opening up all kinds of creativity. Is this connection really diminishing to the point of no return? I refuse to believe it.” 

by Emma Reynolds

“We can’t eat money or drink oil. One day I will be an ancestor and I want my descendants to know I used my voice so they can have a future.”