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Climate Change Stories
Sometimes it is best to hear directly from people who are experiencing climate
change in their own lives and thinking about what to do about it. Several
groups have begun collecting such
stories: "Climate Matters Documoments" for Hawaii;
Climate Stories NC
for those states; and (for people living around the U.S., including numerous
Native communities, and some from other countries),
the Climate Listening Project,
Americans on the
Front Lines of Climate Change, the
U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit,
Climate Stories Project.
10 Places Climate Change Kills the Most People
Market Watch, Wall Street Journal
This annotated slide show offers a quick introduction to some of key results
of the Climate Vulnerability Monitor's 2nd edition (noted below, under TEACH).
Native Americans Coping with Climate Change
This link is to part of a series of short videos (plus transcripts, blogs,
and photo galleries) looking at a handful of Native American tribes and their
current experiences with climate change. According to an accompanying blog,
"When we began our NewsHour coverage on communities across the United States
coping with climate change, we didn't plan to focus on Native American tribes.
But we soon realized that indigenous communities are on the frontlines of
America's climate-related dangers. . . . That diversity - both geographically
and culturally - makes them a sort of demographic microcosm of the United
States. That means the climate shifts that they are feeling now could give
clues to what other Americans can expect might see in the near future."
(~8 minutes, July 2012)
Human Impacts of Climate Change
low-res stream |
med-res stream |
Lori Peek, Department of Sociology,
Colorado State University
Is there more risk involved for women or men when it comes to climate change?
What about the impact for children versus adults? This short clip describes
particular groups that are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate
(9 minutes, February 2010)
||articles & essays
Human Health: Start Here
For a "start here" collection of annotated sources on the effects of climate
change on human health‒both physical and mental‒look here. PDF
file, two pages, designed to be printed on both sides of one sheet.
FOCUS on . . .
For more annotated links on aspects of the effect of global warming on people,
see the FOCUS pages on Africa, the
Climate/Human Past, and
Climate Change and National Security
Fact Sheet: What Climate Change Means for Your Health and Family
- Climate Change, National Security, Terrorism
For two good short pieces on Vox.com (November 2015), see David Roberts'
The Right Way to Think about Climate Change and National Security and
A Closer Look at the Link between Climate Change and Violence.
The Pentagon & Climate Change: How Deniers Put National Security at Risk
Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, February 2015
A thorough look at the current and probable future effects of climate change
on US military assets and readiness to deal with emerging security issues
around the globe‒along with the story of how deniers in Congress are blocking
action in ways that make America more vulnerable.
2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap
Department of Defense, October 2014
Lucid, concise, and eminently practical, this report overviews what the US
military is doing to plan for and adapt to climate change (especially Plans
and Operations, Training and Testing, Build and Natural Infrastructure, and
Acquisition and Supply Chain). The first sentence: "Climate change will
affect the Department of Defense's ability to defend the Nation and poses
immediate risks to U.S. national security."
National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change
Center for Naval Analysis Corporation Military Advisory Board, May 2014
This excellent report, prepared by 16 retired generals and admirals,
understands climate change as a catalyst for conflict. Its twenty-seven core
pages (which are very clearly written) cover many key areas of concern, from
military facilities to global economic networks and potential conflicts over
food, water, and energy. The homepage includes links to two good short videos.
Climate Change and National Security
Rear Admiral David Titley, Oceanographer for the U.S. Navy
In this accessible 23-minute video, Rear Admiral Titley describes his "journey
from being a pretty hard-core skeptic about climate change to one who believes
this is one of the preeminent challenges of our century." Starting at minute
15, he talks about why the Navy cares about this issue.
(23 minutes, January 2011)
White House Press Office, April 2016
A good summary of key findings of the full (3-Year, 100-expert) report,
The Impacts of
Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment.
Current and future impacts range from increased allergies and asthma through
heat stroke and disaster injuries to mental distress and insect-borne diseases and, as always, some people are and will be more vulnerable than others.
Climate-Displaced Persons Deserve a Dignified Transition. Here's How to Make It Happen.
Kayla Walsh, Ensia, January 2016
This is a thoughtful, informed, and informative discussion of what is at
stake in what we call people who are displaced by climate change. It is not
simple, but it matters.
Fact Sheets: Climate Change, Health, and Populations of Concern
Climate change will affect our health in different ways depending on our age
and circumstances, and these fact sheets cover some categories, including
indigenous, pregnant, poor, disabled, elderly, and ill people. Excellent
The Vanishing Island
Adam Morton (text), Penny Stephens (photos), and others, Sydney Morning Herald, fall 2015
This beautifully done story shows us what's happening on a tiny part of the
Solomon Islands in the South Pacific as sea level rises and the islanders try
to prepare for change. The story won a UN Media award in 2016. For more
stories about climate change from this newspaper, click
Climate Change Pushes India's Poorest Children into Slavery
Nita Bhalla, Reuters, February 2015
Based on an interview with Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, this short
article describes one of the indirect effects of climate-linked disasters on
poor and vulnerable people, in this case women and children at risk from human
trafficking, especially when social institutions are under severe stress.
Where the Wildfires Are: If There's Smoke, There Are Costly Health Problems
Amy Westervelt, The Guardian, September 2014
This good story about the (often surprisingly distant) health effects of
wildfire smoke includes links to many primary sources.
Beyond Storms and Droughts: The Psychological Impacts of Climate Change
ecoAmerica and the American Psychological Association, June 2014
A lucid, comprehensive, and efficient survey of harms likely to ensue to human
mental, physical, and community health from global warming, citing a wealth of
primary sources. Includes recommendations to leaders for increasing resilience
and for communicating these risks.
Welcome to West Port Arthur, Texas, Ground Zero in the Fight for Climate Justice
Wen Stephenson, The Nation, June 2014
A very good introduction to the issue of climate justice and its ties to
public health, fossil fuels, poverty, race, pollution, and other social and
environmental justice factors.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Summary for Policy Makers
This 44-page summary of a much longer report has garnered significant news
coverage, as it should. Depending on your level of interest and need-to-know,
you might want to read the original summary or just look at its colorful and
informative graphics. Click
for a very short digest from the Climate Desk. It's worth the time to see how
newspapers and websites have covered the story, too. For instance:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
And to put this 5th Assessment in the context of earlier IPCC reports, see
Turn Down the Heat
World Bank, November 2012, June 2013, November 2014
Three extensive reports from the World Bank‒all with excellent executive
summaries‒look closely at projected risks to agriculture,
infrastructure, health, and other important elements of human life, focusing
especially on the developing world, and comparing impacts expected from
today's warming (.8°C) with those from a +2°C warming (expected if the
world aggressively fights emissions) and from a +4°C warming (expected if
emissions continue on their current paths). The first report is subtitled
"Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided"; the second, "Climate Extremes,
Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience," focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa,
South Asia, and Southeast Asia; the third, "Confronting the New Climate
Normal," focuses on Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North
Africa, and parts of Europe and Central Asia.
Adapting to a Warmer World: No Going Back
Olive Heffernan, Nature, November 2012
An excellent introduction to adaptation efforts now underway around the world
(both large and small scale, top-down and grassroots), as mitigation efforts
flounder and severe weather events become more frequent and damaging.
A Climate of Suffering: The Real Costs of Living with Inaction on Climate Change
The Climate Institute, Australia, 2011
The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States
Lise Van Susteren and Kevin Coyle, 2012
These reports survey the mental health problems we're likely to see as
climate-change-linked severe weather events increase; the first (which
includes a brief video) focuses on Australia, the second on the US. Both use
information and lessons from recent traumas, including weather events like
Hurricane Katrina and Australia's drought and wildfires and other events with
comparable psychological effects, such as the 9/11 attacks and war trauma;
both have good source notes. Both call for the mental healthcare community to
get better prepared; for government to bolster its support structures; and for
all of us to act now to prevent as much emotional suffering as we can.
Facing the Storm: Indian Tribes, Climate-Induced Weather Extremes, and the
Future for Indian Country
National Wildlife Federation, 2011, 27 pp
Well-written and comprehensive introduction to many of the climate-change
issues faced by Native Americans, especially on the tribal lands in the
American West and Alaska, with suggestions about needed or existing resources
for adaptation. Many agencies contributed, and the footnotes are good.
Suffering the Science: Climate Change, People and Poverty
This clearly-written and compelling report "combines the latest scientific
observations on climate change, with evidence from the communities Oxfam works
with in almost 100 countries around the world, to reveal how the changing
climate is already hitting poor people hard. [It] outlines evidence of how
climate change is affecting every issue linked to poverty and development from access to food and water to health and security. It warns that without
immediate action 50 years of development gains in poor countries will be
permanently lost. One of the most worrying trends highlighted in the report is
the impact of erratic weather on agriculture. Poor farmers, who can no longer
rely on seasons, are losing crop after crop because of sudden heat waves or
The full report (PDF) in English is 61 pages; the summary/briefing paper in
English is 8 pages. Also available in other languages. 2009
Under-Reported Climate Stories
Thomson Reuters Foundation
A very good source of "under-reported" news about "the human and development
impacts of climate change," focused on the developing world and including
stories about extreme weather, climate finance and politics, adaptation,
disaster risk reduction, forests, and more.
Tck Tck Tck: The Global Campaign for Climate Action
This excellent website is run by an alliance of over 350 organizations that
are joining energies to "mobilize civil society and galvanize public support
to ensure a safe climate future for people and nature, to promote the
low-carbon transition of our economies, and to accelerate the adaptation
efforts in communities already affected by climate change." Information on
public health, water access, food security, poverty alleviation, social
justice, national security, and other key topics; blogs (Climate Voices); an
interactive map of climate impacts by country, showing specific
vulnerabilities and possible impacts by 2030; and more.
Climate Change and Human Health
For this important topic, an excellent overview for the United States is the
health chapter of the 2014 National Climate Assessment.
Several federal agencies also have very good websites: see the
National Institutes of Health,
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the
Environmental Protection Agency.
Climate Change and Human Vulnerability
Numerous organizations concerned with the effects of climate change on people
have informative websites. For some good examples, see
UNICEF (on children),
Oxfam (on the poor), the
(on heat-related disease, economic losses, sea-level rise and population
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
ONE (on extreme poverty in Africa, and links with development), and the
Environmental Justice Foundation (on forced migration, conflict, and
Stories from the Front Lines
Climate Central, July 2016
These five short pieces about the frontline effects of climate change in
Tanzania, Kiribati, Alaska, and California result from a collaboration between
Climate Central and Stanford University students. Interesting in themselves,
they are also a good idea-sparker for teachers.
Changing the Atmosphere: Anthropology and Climate Change
American Anthropological Association, 2014
A readable and useful task force report that considers human contributions to
climate change; lessons from the past about human adaptation, survival, and
change; current concepts such as adaptation, vulnerability, and resilience;
and the importance of local and community engagement.
Climate Vulnerability Monitor, 2nd edition
Who is most likely to be getting sick and dying from climate change and fossil
fuel pollution? You'll find a serious attempt to answer this question here,
though it takes some energy to interpret all the figures.
Are Cultures Endangered by Climate Change? Yes, but . . . .
Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs) Climate Change, 2012
This is a lucid overview (six pages) of how anthropologists look at culture
and one sensible and provocative answer to the question in the title-and a
useful one for classrooms, perhaps especially introductory ones.
To recommend a subscription to your librarian,
Sociological Perspectives on Global Climate Change
Joane Nagel, Jeffrey Broadbent, and Thomas Dietz
National Science Foundation and American Sociological Association, 2010
This report from a 2009 workshop offers readable summaries of ways
sociologists can help understand the social causes, social impacts, and social
dimensions of mitigation and adaptation of/to climate change, as well as 28
short discussions by workshop participants of their relevant questions and
research and key citations. Not aimed at general readers, but should be quite
useful for specialists, especially teachers, students, and practitioners of
the social sciences.
Psychology and Global Climate Change:
Addressing a Multi-faceted Phenomenon and Set of Challenges
American Psychological Association Task Force on the Interface between Psychology and Global Climate Change
The chief aim of this report is "to engage members of the psychology community
(teachers, researchers, practitioners, and students) in the issue of climate
change." It addresses these questions: (1) "How do people understand the risks
imposed by climate change?" (2) "What are the human behavioral contributions
to climate change and the psychological and contextual drivers of these
contributions?" (3) What are the psychosocial impacts of climate change?" (4)
"How do people adapt to and cope with perceived threat and unfolding impacts
of climate change?" (5) "Which psychological barriers limit climate change
action?" and (6) "How can psychologists assist in limiting climate change?"
Somewhat academic in style, but readable and full of useful ideas.