Write For Earth: Cambridge students doing their part to raise climate awareness

Young people often talk about climate change; the students behind Write For Earth also want to do their partLi-An Lim / Unsplash

Climate change, like all socio-environmental issues, is a people-centred problem. It has caught the attention of scientists and policy makers. The academic sphere abounds with articles focused on the climate crisis – there is no shortage of information, nor lack of interest among academics to conduct in-depth research to tackle the crisis. But the academic bubble, with its technical and often convoluted style of writing, has an innate tendency to make a subject seem exclusionary. And with the power to cause 250,000 additional deaths a year, climate change is certainly not an exclusive issue. To undo the exclusionary discourse of the climate movement, Write for the Earth was born with the intention of breaking free from an academic lens and refocusing the climate conversation around lived experiences.

Founded by three students from Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, Write for the Earth seeks to communicate the climate crisis in the best possible way. Hannah, Leoni and Matthew (the founders of Write for the Earth) met at Generation Climate Europe, where they were inspired to do their part for the climate movement. Their vision is to create a space where action and policy are actively complemented by the lived experiences of those most affected by the climate crisis. When several individuals around the world are involved in a social movement, the amalgamation of ideas often results in positive change, but there is also a tendency for the space to become an echo chamber where one loses sight of the real agenda. Write for the Earth seeks to bring attention back to the fundamental question at hand – how has the climate crisis affected real people who have faced climate wrath? How do these people see their future and what do they think they can do to improve the situation?

Write for the Earth seeks to bring attention back to the fundamental question at hand.

From now on, the three of them are working on an anthology which will be a compilation of lived experiences – a collection of people’s hopes along with what they see as possible solutions. They are accepting submissions until September from people around the world to create a full piece. When asked why they chose to consolidate an anthology, they mentioned that they didn’t want to risk reducing anyone’s experience to an academic piece. Quantifying the experiences wasn’t the goal, Matthew said. Hannah echoed that thought, adding that their anthology doesn’t force people to write in any particular style. They accept all forms of literature, from essays to poetry, and people are free to write in a way that allows them to express their thoughts in the most authentic way possible. They say the authenticity of climate conversations is lacking, and this anthology is their way of contributing to the movement.

“You have to have faith that they can bring their knowledge to the movement”

Write for the Earth is part of the Global University Climate Forum, a platform that brings together young climate activists from around the world. As part of the forum, the findings of the anthology will also be summarized in the form of a report. Additionally, this report is also expected to be included in a publication to be released during the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27). Thereby, Write for the Earth aims to communicate its findings to policy makers globally, thereby refocusing the narrative on the lived experiences of those truly affected.

Young activists form the core of the climate movement and Write for the Earth and its founders are only a small part of this core. When asked what her advice would be to other young climate activists, Hannah explained how critical it is to break free from the chains of impostor syndrome. One should have faith that they can contribute their knowledge to the movement, even if it is a small contribution.

On top of that, Leoni stressed the importance of keeping pace. She mentioned the need to realize that tackling the climate crisis is a collective effort. Matthew advised against falling into the trap of measuring impact quantitatively – impact can even be at the interpersonal level. They all agreed that as long as there is passion, there should be no hesitation in joining the climate movement. After all, the movement feeds on the lived experiences of individuals and experiences cannot be good or bad; they can only be insightful and help move the movement forward.