After joining Gan Pei Ling’s training session one month before we departed to Paris, I started to think how should we explain climate change in a wider context to people around us. I like how she broke down climate change into smaller pictures by relating the issues to politics, geography, culture, economy, education etc. This idea further developed when I saw many people with different backgrounds and from different sectors attending the COP21 in Paris.
Many people around me always think that climate change is global warming and global warming is cutting down trees and the increase of numbers of cars on the streets. Sometimes it might be a bit frustrating to listen to that; it’s like how people is telling you that the fried rice is made of rice only while you know there is some soy sauce, MSG and oil inside of it.
What I am trying to say here is that people tend to focus on the superficial part of the problem and ignore the story behind the picture. So let’s see what are important elements of the climate change that we should also pay attention to:
- Politics – What is UNFCCC? It is a United Nation Conference on climate change which 196 countries will meet up and discuss about the ways and commitments that every nation should contribute to fight against this crisis. “Countries”, “discuss”, “ways and commitments”, these terms portray how politics play the game in climate change, especially in climate policy and climate finance. The efforts of controlling climate change is highly dependent on the political stand of the Parties.
- Social and Culture – Extreme weathers might cause the cultural heritage like monuments to be eroded at a higher rate. Indigenous people will lost their livelihoods and might need to move away from their original habitats. Changes in culture is inevitable for societies to adapt and cope with climate change. For instance, the awareness about climate change has risen over time and large population started to change their lifestyle to a more sustainable one.
- Education – As climate change exacerbate, the climate education become more and more important to build capacity and to increase the unity among the people and the authorities to curb the climate change. Campaigns, talks, videos, articles etc all are considered as climate education. Many people who are staying in the outskirts have relatively low accessibility to the information about climate change which will caused them to be more fragile in front of the alteration in climate.
- Economy – The efforts and the focus of the countries on combating climate change will be a very important pointer of the economy because the development of the green industry and the dirty energy industry will be relying on that. Besides, climate change will be causing extreme weather which affects the crop yield and increases the loss and damage of the citizens. This will further influence the price of food and the economy of the countries which main output are agricultural products.
- Geography – The rising sea level no doubt will be causing a change in the geographical size of the land while the extreme weather will bring about uncommon weather pattern and increase the fertility of the land. The landscape of an area would also be changed by climate change.
- Demography – When the landscape and fertility of the land altered, the people whose livelihood depends on the agricultural activities would have to search for other ways to survive, for example, shifting to the city and work in the factory or moving away from the lowland that has annual flood. This will result in changes of demography in the areas/cities. The climate migration might incur geopolitical problems like overcrowding, food shortage or even civil war.
- Biodiversity – Excessive logging is one of the reasons of climate change. Climate change makes the environment less conducive for certain vulnerable flora and fauna because some species are highly sensitive and is very “picky” about their habitats. Many crop yields decrease because of climate change and this will affect the economy and increase the climate migration.
- Human rights – There are many organizations which focus on gender equality and indigenous people are very concerned on climate change because these groups are usually the front-line victims of the climate issues. For instance, women in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are faced with difficulties in food production, household water supply and energy supply because of climate change. They are comparatively inaccessible towards technologies, capacity building and financial resources.
- Religion – Many spiritual leaders have already recognized the need to curb climate change, mostly by publishing religious statement on climate change. They urge the Parties and public to acknowledge the need to take good care of the God’s creation and to work towards the same goal of protecting the environment.
In fact, climate change is related to everyone and everything on this planet. We have to collaborate and give our commitments to address our common threat, the climate change, before it is too late.
Written by Elaine