“Save us and you will save yourselves,” is the plea from the Environment Minister for the Maldives. Though it may be one of the first countries to be completely inundated due to global warming, the Maldives will certainly not be the last. It is only a matter of time before it is our turn.
One of the greatest challenges facing the issue of global warming is the disconnection from its effects. When people think about global warming, they may imagine a distant, melting glacier that has no effect on them. This disconnection breeds apathy and a reluctance to change. The video “Climate Voices,” however, brings the effects of global warming out of the textbooks and to life through interviews conducted around the world. From interviews with people around the globe, the devastation of climate change and everyday hardships are brought down to earth. Global warming is real and is felt all around us. From the droughts in Madagascar, to the floods in Bangladesh, to the heat waves in France, to the thawing of the permafrost in Canada, to the retreat of the glaciers in Peru, no region has been spared. Every ethnicity, age, and economic status has been affected.
Among those interviewed is a mother in Kenya who struggles to support her family with scarce water and food resources due to drought conditions. As farming has ceased, she can no longer afford to send her children to school. On the other side of the world, a man in the Murray-Darling basin in southern Australia has seen the suicide rate increase to one per week. He has lost friends who have succumbed to the pressure of no longer being able to support their families. In Europe, the frequency of heat waves has tripled in the last decade, with the 2003 heat wave responsible for 60,000 deaths in only 10 days. “Our industrial activity has entered the climate system like a bull in a china shop,” states a Ph.D. student from Spain commenting on the devastation caused by global warming. “It will take nature millions of years to readjust.”
A change in attitude and action must occur now. As a Professor of Environmental Biology at Stanford University and a member of the IPCC points out, “we have a debt to the planet.” The United States has emitted more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than anyone else. We have a responsibility to not only reduce our own emissions but to also help the developing world bypass our mistakes of the industrial revolution and develop cleaner technologies.
This call to action is reiterated throughout the interviews as each person expresses his and her concerns, solutions, and hopes for the future. For one Greenland native the answer to resolving the climate crisis is simple: “have less and be more.”