Understanding the human face of climate change
By Bhavani Prakash
In September 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) released its fifth assessment report based on peer reviewed science, that it was ‘extremely likely’ that humanity is to blame for global warming. It mentioned that global temperatures are likely to rise by 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 from pre-industrial revolution levels. This is the official threshold that scientists and governments have acknowledged as the safe limit, beyond which there is likely to be havoc in the form of droughts, floods, cyclones, heat waves and spread of diseases and pests.
If a rise of 2 degrees C temperature isn’t enough to worry about, a new report by University of New South Wales has announced, based on climate models that identifies factors controlling cloud changes, that it is more likely that the planet may experience a catastrophic 4 degree C rise in temperature rise by 2100, double that of what is considered dangerous.
The reports of the IPCC and other scientific institutions, important and useful as they are, and much as we like to post and share them, have unfortunately, not created the kind of massive action that is required. Facts and figures rarely provoke the imagination. This is why we take special note of the fact that there is an emergence of real life stories on the impact of climate change that is being noticed visibly by ordinary people around the world. Not everyone affected necessarily understands that these impacts may be due to climate change, but they perceive that the immediate environment they are living in is changing. It is not only changing, it is also less predictable, and it is getting harder to eke out the kind of living that used to be possible for generations.
We’re sharing these stories, in the hope that where facts and figures fail to stir our collective emotions into action, perhaps these real life images and narratives just might.
1. THE HUMAN FACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE by Matthias Braschler and Monika Fischer
This 2011 book by two Swiss photographers is an effort that takes them across 16 countries. No matter which continent (and all have been traversed), each of the unique stories resonate similar messages. Whether it is a Llama herder in the Andes, a labourer in Bangladesh, an Inuit in Canada, a teenager in Kiribati, a farmer in Mali, they talk of hardship and the forced adaptability that has been thrust on them from the uncertainty in the environment. The people to first experience the effects of climate change are those who live closely in contact with, and derive their livelihoods from nature, and these voices are poignantly reflected in the book.
Watch the video trailer for the book here:
2. FILMS BY Chintan Gohil
Chintal Gohil is a young, Indian photographer, filmmaker and design architect who has captured the effects of climate change on the people of Ladakh and Rajasthan through these two beautiful films in collaboration with SEEDS India, also sharing efforts towards climate adaptation.
3. DOCUMENTARY BY THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES (IFRC)
This short documentary shares testimonies from Bahamas, Malawi, UK, Bolivia, Maldives, Bangladesh. The IRFC is understandably one of several relief agencies which is concerned about the humanitarian effects of climate change. They say, “The humanitarian impact of climate change is likely to be among the biggest humanitarian challenges in years and decades to come. Action so far has been slow and inadequate compared with needs.”
Watch the documentary here:
For 2014 and beyond, we as alternative media, would like to think of more impactful ways for messaging around climate change and other environmental issues, and invite you, our readers to share your comments, feedback and suggestions. If you are reading this, you are as much a part of alternative media as we are. Let’s shape and co-create our conversations to make a meaningful and positive impact for the world in 2014. Happy New Year!
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