September 22, 2019 by Elizabeth Sawin
After last week’s global climate strike we took a look back at the data on the size and scale of previous climate rallies, protests, and marches. The results show a movement that is not only growing, it is growing at a faster and faster rate.
To understand systems, pay attention to their momentum. That’s one of the first teachings of systems thinking, and one of the best ways to capture the momentum of a system is to look at its behavior over time. So, we looked for data on the size of some of the prominent climate rallies that have happened since 2007.
What we found, shown in the chart above, is an overall trend of more and more participation in climate actions. But more than that, the _rate_of of increase is increasing too! Increasing climate impacts, increasing media coverage, and increasing scientific clarity on the need to act all may be contributing to this behavior over time. In addition, this pattern of behavior over time is often a sign of reinforcing feedback, where small changes feed on themselves to create more change in the same direction. As the climate movement grows in visibility and numbers, its ability to grow increases too. Judging from this chart, that people-powered feedback loop has been gaining strength over time. September 20th’s global strikes seem likely to add to that momentum.
Here’s a summary of our data, estimates, and sources. Click here to view the underlying file.