For millions of women, global warming is more than just a concept. It’s hurting them and their families right now. Here’s how they are coping.
Imagine having to walk six hours for a drink of water. Or being surrounded by so much rising water your ancestral homeland is sinking before your eyes. Or that the ice that has literally supported your community for untold generations is cracked, splitting and swallowing your loved ones, along with their way of life. The main problem with climate change is water, says Kristie Ebi, a public health and toxicology expert with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Too much, too little, wrong place, wrong time.”
Rich nations produce the bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming, yet the effects are felt most in the poorest parts of the world. The impact is especially hard on women, who often grow the food, find the water and gather the firewood. At the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, representatives from 192 countries will meet to hammer out a new plan for curbing emissions. Meanwhile, the women most affected by global warming are leading the way in adapting to it—sometimes making a change as basic as raising ducks instead of chickens, so their food supply can swim instead of drowning the next time there’s a flood. These five women never expected to be facing these issues at this stage of their lives. But they’re adapting to the challenge with courage and grace. And you can help. Here are their stories:
Ursula Rakova, Carteret Islands: Evacuating a sinking homeland.
Mari Samake, Mali: Making soap to save trees.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Canada: Putting a human face on global warming.
Shanti Mallaha, Nepal: Learning to "look out for clouds."
Loko Dadacha, Ethiopia: Doing surveillance to combat drought's devastating effects.
Nallangal Balakrishnanan, India: When water scarcity pits neighbor against neighbor.
Gawdencia Juma Dende, Kenya: Tapping into a new water source for her community.
How you can help.
Stories like this need to be made more public. These is where the real incentive is to act now. Instead we just talk about the politics of this matter.
"I am here to serve."
The Window Man