Climoji (set 1) is comprised of 27 emoji denoting climate change-related causes and symptoms. Emoji are used to annotate feelings and to short-hand communication. Climoji serves as signifiers to amplify climate change and as new signs with which to express despair, hope, and solidarity. Smartphone users can download the sticker packs for iPhone and Android, and also use the Climoji PNG set in poster and screen applications.
Despite modern technology and online communities, conversations about climate change are still not a part of one’s daily discourse. While there is an intellectual consensus on the effects of climate change, there isn’t an emotional one.
Our challenge was to compress these complex concepts into a format that bridges a gap between the emotional and the cerebral. Pictograms have an ability to do that – they have both concision and open-endedness. They could convey the magnitude of a feeling or event quickly, economically. They could be a nudge or a poke or a memento whereas a sentence doesn’t have that punch or that embrace. Climoji is that bridge – a tool, a shared language for us to question, communicate and reflect on our personal actions and our responsibilities as part of a larger community.
Watch the promotional video about Climoji produced by NYU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ND3oNkMIlhY
Objectives and beneficiaries
We created these icons to have the same slippery and joyful resonance as other emoji. This is a tactic to engage people, invite them to engage with a difficult (and often abstract) topic. In our opinions, social media tools can be used for social/ecological good.
The objectives are to provide new communication tools to "lubricate" conversations about climate change in personal online communication and social media. We wagered that humor and concision together could provide a new communication tool to those working in the arena of climate change activism - from social justice to mitigation of waste to CO2 emissions. In May 2018, Climoji reached 10,000 downloads, and have been featured in The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Verge, and Yale Climate Connections.
We hope that the versatility and the share-ability of Climoji can lead to the normalization of conversations about climate change.
Strong points of the solution
Our colleague Howard Silverman, a systems thinker and teacher (SolvingforPattern.org) wrote this about the project: “How does one grapple with the privileges, anger, and sorrows of a climate-changing life? With Climoji, the unspeakable is textable. Hijack the era’s cartoonish vernacular to send playful messages that are provocative, disturbing, and disarming. Climoji is not about getting beyond the choir. They are about finding one’s voice.”
Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation
While we cannot prove more than download activity and tracking users' social media accounts, we believe Climoji is a communication tool that provides a light-handed synthesis which can amplify and short-hand the conversation, catch the attention of those who might ordinarily shut out the "doom and gloom" of climate change.
We are currently working on the 2nd set of Climoji that address environmental resiliency. We prefer to talk about resiliency than “solutions.” Climate change, environmental health, ecological justice, anthropocentrism, capital extractivism, social justice, and consumption are so entangled, we’d be better served to ask how we might think and act differently, to contribute to a more resilient and greater-than-human world. The 2nd set is going to include icons for renewables, sharing and reuse, steps to take for land and water health, as well as some ethical and paradigmatic shifts in mental models.
Scalability potential of the solution
Our hope is that Facebook incorporates these emoji into their in-app icon sets and that the project continues to be downloaded and used in daily communications and campaigns.
[Editor's Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made for length and clarity.]