#StopWillow is taking TikTok by storm. Can it actually work?

#StopWillow Takes Over TikTok: Can Social Media Stop Climate-Damaging Projects?

A TikTok video by Elise Joshi about the Alaska oil drilling project Willow has gone viral. Joshi often posts about climate issues on TikTok, and this video has quickly accumulated over 100,000 views, eventually surpassing 300,000. The Biden administration is expected to finalize its decision on whether to approve the ConocoPhillips Willow Project, which would create thousands of jobs and establish a new source of revenue for the region. However, it would also generate enough oil to release 9.2 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon pollution a year. TikTok users, in particular, have gathered around halting the project, with videos using anti-Willow hashtags such as #StopWillow that have amassed close to 50 million views in the last week.

The surge in online activism around Willow has largely been organic, and much larger than any other climate issue on the app before. The sudden growth of the StopWillow hashtag has both confused and delighted legacy climate groups, some of which were wondering why it took so long for Willow to get noticed. Even though Biden has already cemented part of his legacy on climate by working with Congress to pass the most ambitious climate bill in generations, activists who fought Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline during the Obama administration say one thing remains constant: massive fossil fuel projects tend to fire people up.

The growth of StopWillow TikTok has both befuddled and delighted climate groups. While climate doom has proliferated among some young people, other young people are trying to counteract it by creating awareness and showing support for the StopWillow hashtag. These young people are under the impression that if Willow gets passed, climate change will be irreversible. Nevertheless, they still need to fight against Willow, but their lives are not over if it is passed.

To combat climate change, social media can be a powerful tool in raising awareness and pressuring politicians and corporations to take action. Willow is just one of many climate-damaging projects that must be stopped, and social media can help to promote a greater understanding of the issues and mobilize more people to take action.