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How 20-year-old Elise Joshi turned her TikTok fame into a career in climate activism: 'Digital organizing works'

"I had been convincing myself I couldn't make a difference."

Elise joshi career in climate activism

Elise Joshi speaks with more credibility than most people twice her age. 

Joshi, who is 20 years old, has been an organizer and activist for several years now — a fast-rising career that, as she told Teen Vogue, she largely credits to TikTok.  

She joined the app in mid-2020, and quickly gained fame for her videos about climate, politics, and human rights issues. The response came quickly and overwhelmingly, proving that after years of effort, she was finally onto something.  

"I had been convincing myself I couldn't make a difference," she told Teen Vogue. "All of that started to fizzle away, all my fears and doubts of my own capabilities."

@elisejoshi i'm alarmed. you should be too. #biden2020 #earth #climatechange ♬ original sound - elise

Joshi was first galvanized in 2018 when she was still in high school. That year, her home state of California experienced some of its worst wildfires on record — a threat that has been exacerbated by the burning of dirty energy sources like coal and gasoline, which is overheating the Earth and making extreme weather more frequent.  

As Joshi told Teen Vogue, the fires marked a turning point for her. Now, the climate crisis was right on her doorstep. 

"It felt for the first time like these scientific predictions we've been talking about — climate change is here now," she told the outlet.

Over the past two years, Joshi's popularity has only grown. She now serves as the director of strategy at Gen-Z For Change, a youth activism nonprofit that started, naturally, on TikTok. 

The group has since become a force in American politics. Its members mobilize voters, organize issue-based campaigns, and explain current events to their combined 500 million followers. Earlier this year, the group even visited Washington, D.C. to meet with officials. 

"We've galvanized hundreds of thousands of people to take down whistleblower tiplines, urge their representatives to pass climate legislation, and so much more," the group's website states. "Digital organizing works."

Meanwhile, Joshi's own TikTok following has grown to nearly 120,000 users. On the app, she's known for her plainspoken, easy-to-understand videos, which often explain how climate issues affect different aspects of our everyday lives.

@elisejoshi Wildfires are a labor, incarceration, and indigenous issue. We must support those at the core of this issue in order to deal with any of it #wildfire #california ♬ original sound - elise

Joshi uses her notoriety to share tangible resources, like her expansive "Climate Organizations" list. The document is a living, breathing registry of organizations looking to make a difference in the fight against rising temperatures. Joshi has also added lists of books, Twitter accounts, and other climate speakers for those looking to educate themselves. 

"Remember, we don't need a small number of people putting 100% of their time and energy, but a lot of people giving anything they can," Joshi writes in the document's opening statement.

She's also created other guides, like her color-coded document discussing common questions about climate issues. The guides are all available through a link tree on Joshi's TikTok page, and they work in tandem with her content, which is always focused on informative, actionable solutions. 

@elisejoshi Reply to @incarnadine_ We are a product of the material conditions we're put under. Demanding system change, RESIST and BLOCK pipelines and coal plants, and change your area for the better. #endfossilfuels ♬ original sound - elise

A huge part of Joshi's success is rooted in her attitude. She often speaks out against climate doomism, the belief that humans are past the "point of no return" and that there's therefore no use in trying to stop rising temperatures. 

"You won't ever see climate doom on my account. Only solutions and actions you can participate in," Joshi once wrote in a TikTok comment

Joshi's work is evidence against that idea. She's galvanized thousands of people online and was even invited to the White House, despite the fact, as she jokingly noted, she hasn't been the biggest fan of President Biden's climate policies. 

"Meeting two presidents in one year was not on my bucket list," the 20-year-old wrote in a caption, referring to the fact that she also spoke with Barack Obama earlier this year. 

@elisejoshi Meeting two presidents in one year was not on my bucket list😅 #whitehouse #biden ♬ elle woods シ - errewayy

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