The Student
Features
Instagram for saving the planet: what is The Climate App?
by Vaishnavi Ramu, 3/10/20

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought significant disruption and change into our lives. The origins of the virus are still debated to this day, with several absurd theories floating around.

Yet, one of the most widely accepted theories is that this is mother nature’s way of telling us that enough is enough, that humans must stop destroying the earth, which makes The Climate App more important than ever.

A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to raise funds to finish building this revolutionary app, created by NASA research scholar Samuel Naef. On the 12th of September, the campaign hit 35 per cent of its goal from over 150 backers.

The campaign has caught the attention of celebrities such as British Olympic swimmer Max Litchfield and sustainability blogger Eleanor Pritchard. Orsola de Castro, the founder of Fashion Revolution, has also publicly given her support for the app.

The question is, what does The Climate App do? Beyond that, can one app make a difference?

The app is designed for people to track and cut down their carbon emissions. At a glance, it appears that many apps claim to do the same.

The people behind The Climate App, however, have designed it with the community in mind; they believe that with social sharing and positive peer pressure, people are more likely to create long-lasting change to their habits. People can track not only their own but friends’ and families’ emissions too.

Additionally, after the app calculates one’s average baseline emission, it sets a monthly target aiming to decrease this by 7.6 per cent: this is how much people need to decrease their carbon footprint by yearly to meet the 2030 1.5 degrees warming goal.

In their own words, The Climate App says to think of the app as a combination between “Strava, Duolingo and Instagram, but for protecting the planet”.

Indeed, there is no secret that students are faced with peer pressure daily, so The Climate App’s aim of positive reinforcement has the potential to be a great success among young people.

Young people are bombarded with pressures from social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis, often feeling worse after their daily newsfeed scroll.

Yet, The Climate Change App offering small bits of encouragement to do one’s bit for the world may leave many young folks feeling better about themselves and the world around them.

The team behind the ground-breaking app are a diverse group, from NASA scientists to Sky employees, and even a recent graduate from the University of Birmingham. Holly is one of the app’s community builders and is deeply enthusiastic about the app’s launch.

Judging from media coverage of the issue, the climate change movement is fronted by young people, many of whom are inspired by sixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began striking for climate action in August of 2018.

Not long after, Extinction Rebellion was founded and now have members across the world. Though some do like to joke about student obsessions with oat milk lattes and vegan burgers, the effects of these lifestyle changes have been proven to significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

There has also been significant discussion around the discrepancy between the carbon emissions emitted in first and third world countries. The USA is second only behind China, yet with just a fraction of the population.

Perhaps, apps such as The Climate App will help those in more privileged positions to actively do something about it.

Image: The Climate App