Climate Change is a People Story
Climate Change Data
The media describes climate change by communicating the data gathered and reported by scientists and researchers. Graphs and plots detail the evidence in terms such as the global variation on carbon dioxide concentration, the change on average global surface temperature, and so on. The scientist in me understands the importance of characterizing an issue, however, on many levels climate change is so much more than data that can be plotted, mapped or graphed.
Climate Change Is a People Story
Climate change is about the people who will be affected by the changes we are making to our planet. Yes, climate change is a people story. Examples include the Artic reindeer. Snow is becoming unpredictable, and the Arctic’s ice and winds are changing, which is affecting over 100,000 indigenous people who maintain their lives by herding the reindeer. Many indigenous cultures are defined by the reindeer. This loss of this species would harm the traditions on which their culture has been based for thousands of years.
The indigenous people of the Pacific Islands are facing the prospect of having to migrate as rising sea levels swamp their homes.
Globally, women are the most likely to be responsible for gathering water and fuel for fires for their families. If climate change makes certain water and wood sources more unreliable, these water- and wood-gatherers will have to walk farther every day, limiting the time they can perform other tasks, like earning money, learning new skills, or simply resting.
Climate Change – The Impact
In all three cases, the impact is clearly seen on the lives of those affected, which is difficult to capture in a graph. Graphs fail to describe how the people closest to the direct effects of climate change are seeing the impact in their lives first. The story of these people should be a message to everyone who is farther removed from the front lines of the effects of climate change. At least for now.