Leave it to Greta Thunberg to make something heard - or in this particular case, seen. Her latest work, The Climate Book, features one of today’s most famous climate change visuals as its cover. A gradient of blue and red stripes that shows more than a century’s worth of rising temperatures. This graphic is otherwise known as the climate stripes or warming stripes.
With Show Your Stripes Day coming up on 21st June, we thought we’d dedicate this post to the special occasion.
How it all began
The graphic was made back in 2018 and launched in 2019 by Professor Ed Hawkins (read our in-depth interview with one of the UK’s most foremost climatologists). Instead of another ordinary chart with numbers and labels that the average person might ignore - or forget - the climate stripes graphic is as famous as it is because of its visual impact. They remind us that climate change is happening everywhere, and that no one country is immune.
Professor Ed Hawkins MBE in a POMP #ShowYourStripes Hoodie
A dedicated day
The stripes were a global hit, receiving more than a million downloads within the first week. Politicians, media platforms, and international organisations all over shared the image to mark the summer solstice. Now, 21st June is recognized as an annual #ShowYourStripes Day.
Its sole purpose? To raise awareness of climate change by starting conversations and inspiring impactful tangible actions.
What’s been done before
The last four years have seen an abundance of news coverage, initiatives, and products utilizing Hawkins’ climate stripes to convey the message of climate action.
In 2020, Pueblo Vida Brewing - a sustainability-conscious local brewery and taproom - and the University of Arizona Climate Systems Center came together for a beer design collaboration. In Jersey, UK, local artist Ian Rolls partnered with the Jersey Met Department and the States Environment Department to create a mural for the country. The wall is updated each year, as well as repainted when the occasional troublemaker decides to decorate it with graffiti.
In 2021, the justice-focused movement Common Grace held a full-day event “Knit for Climate Action” at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. Scarves were knitted and gifted, an art installation was on display, discussions were had with Australian MPs and Senators, and so much more.
Last year, the University of Reading and Reading DC signed a partnership with the goal of improving the club’s sustainability. The deal includes a 10-point plan designed around carbon emission reductions.
Getting involved in 2023
On this day, no matter where in the world you are, we’re all encouraged to show our stripes in any way possible, online or offline! Not only that, it’s a day to spread awareness about climate change and rising global temperatures. So don’t worry if you don’t have any Show Your Stripes material and want to avoid unnecessarily consuming.
What you can do:
- Wear or show off a SYS product you own - get creative!
- Share the graphic and its meaning online
- Share the stripes respective to your city or country
- Write a story about how climate change is impacting your home or a place you care about
- Ultimately, start a conversation about climate change.
Remind me, what exactly do those Stripes mean?
Regular readers will know that the climate stripes are the simplest way to illustrate that climate change is taking place. This is because each stripe or bar represents the temperature in that country, averaged over the year. You can learn more about the climate stripes in our detailed blog post, here.
Other major climate events for 2023
As 21st June comes closer, let’s take a look at some of the other climate events taking place this time of the year. Most aren’t affiliated with the #ShowYourStripes movement, but they do provide opportunities to encourage conversations and actions to combat climate change.
Reading Climate Festival
With Prof. Hawkins’ work taking place at the University of Reading, it should be no surprise that we kick off our round-up of activity in the UK in Reading. The Reading Climate Action Network in collaboration with Reading Borough Council, REDA and The University of Reading has organised the Reading Climate Festival to run between 10th and 21st June. The programme includes a range of events, including an art installation in the Concert Hall: Luke Jerram’s Gaia has been created from NASA imagery and surround sound composition by BAFTA award-winning composer, Dan Jones. Sounds fantastic, right?!
What you’ll find:
- Workshops on sustainability
- Repair cafes
- Art installation
- & more.
The Great Big Green Week
The Reading Climate Festival coincides with The Great Big Green Week which runs from 10th to 18th June. The Great Big Green Week is self-described as “UK’s biggest ever celebration of community action to tackle climate change and protect nature”. It first took place in September 2021 and involved over 5000 events. With so many things going on, we’re not going to replicate all of that information here. Instead you can search here.
What you’ll find:
- Litter picks
- Football matches
- School assemblies
- Upcycling & recycling workshops
- & more.
Rest of Europe
Bonn Climate Change Conference
The Bonn Climate Change Conference runs from 5th to 15th June and provides an opportunity for the invited parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to resume their work and pick up negotiations where they left off at the 27th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Egypt in November 2022. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will present insights from the Synthesis Report of its Sixth Assessment cycle, which was published in March 2023. Note that registration seems to be open to Parties to the Convention, United Nations and related organisations and agencies, media and non-profit organisations with observer status only. For most people this will be an event to be aware of rather than attend in person!
School Climate Strikes / Fridays for Future
Every Friday, there is a climate strike held in (some!) schools. This was started by Greta Thunberg as a 15-year-old back in 2018 and has been continued with the goal of forcing the Swedish authorities to implement policies that deliver the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
School strike week 249. Today the theme for our strike is biodiversity. It is crucial - both for the climate and biodiversity - that we #RestoreNature. This means restoring our greatest ally in tackling the climate and biodiversity crises. We now have an immense opportunity to… pic.twitter.com/4q055bMg19— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) May 26, 2023
That’s not to say that the Fridays for Future movement is restricted to Europe as we can see here:
Fridays for Future Indians Youth are on the frontlines, fighting for climate change action and demanding climate justice!Inspired by their passion, Indian girls are leading powerful protests to protect our planet and secure a sustainable future. #FridaysForFuture @GretaThunberg pic.twitter.com/oDoLSZrLLO— Fridays for Future_South Asia (@F4F_ROSA) May 26, 2023
What it involves:
- Creating signs, banners, and bold visuals
- Skipping school (informing teachers before)
- Speaking up about climate change
- No violence
- & fun!
World Environment Day - 5 June
In 1972, the United Nations held its first major conference focused on environmental issues and as momentum gathered, the General Assembly adopted a resolution designating June 5 as World Environment Day with the first one happening in 1973. The idea is that governments, cities, businesses, NGOs, and individuals undertake activities on that day that demonstrate their concern for the preservation and enhancement of the environment. Each year, there is a focus on a particular aspect of this agenda. In 2023, it will be about reducing plastic pollution with the adopted hashtag of #BeatPlasticPollution. The day is held by Côte d'Ivoire, but all around the world you can find activities to sign up for.
What you’ll find:
- Dance performances with unwanted clothing
- Showcasing innovations
- Ocean festivals
- Garbage collection walks & runs
- & more!
We haven’t decided where we will be on 21st June, though we do know we will be following Prof. Hawkins’s advice and wearing one of the items in our #ShowYourStripes range to drive conversations on the topic of climate change.
We’re also interested in learning about how you have conversations with people about climate change so please comment below. If there are any other events, we should be adding, please let us know about them too!