We all know about climate change and the consequences of increasing global temperatures. We also know that the effects of climate change are not spread equally around the globe.
What we may not know is the impact this is having on the daily lives of many people now and which, indeed, threatens their very survival.
In her capacity as UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, Mary Robinson has met the people living this reality and in this book she recounts their stories. From Alaska to Australia, Kenya to Kiribati, the narrative is one of adapting to each crisis as it comes along.
In Alaska whole communities are having to relocate because ground that was permanently frozen is now soggy and unable to support schools and houses. Kiribati is an island kingdom straddling both the equator and International Date Line. Most of the islands are less than 6 feet above sea level and, with current predictions of rising sea levels, plans are being made to move the entire country.
Against this bleak picture, Mary Robinson tells of her encounters with (mostly) women of extraordinary resourcefulness and determination who are making a significant difference at the grassroots level. Constance Okollet describes how in September 2007, flash flooding swept away houses, crops, animals and people in her village of Asinget, Uganda. Realising that deforestation was one cause of the flooding, Constance set about persuading her local council to fund tree planting. She is now a regular speaker at the annual UN climate meetings.
The M’bororo tribes of Chad are nomadic herders with a finely attuned knowledge of weather patterns handed down through generations. With Lake Chad only a tenth of its former size and water holes drying up, many herders are having to abandon their traditional lifestyle. In a highly patriarchal society women find it hard to be heard but Hindou was determined to speak up for her tribe. She is now a climate activist and supporter of women’s rights and indigenous groups.
These women have not been content to wait for international aid to help them; they have educated, organised, pressurised and “got on with the job”.
This book brings together three vital threads:
- climate change is now
- it is a crisis affecting all of humanity
- immediate action is needed
But underlying this is the fact that climate change is unjust. The people suffering the most have not caused the problem and they are often least well equipped to deal with it. But there are remarkable people, many of them women, making a huge difference at local, national and international levels.
Mary Robinson celebrates these people in her book Climate Justice: A Man-Made Problem with a Feminist Solution.
Book review written by CFWI Climate Ambassador Kim Sudell