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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 Minnesota,
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. The team at
Climate Connections puts out
short (radio) podcasts along these lines five days a week.
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)
Climate Change and National Security
For a good short overview piece on
Vox.com (November 2015),
see Brad Plumer's
Closer Look at the Link between Climate Change and
Violence. For an excellent, lucid, concise, practical, and authoritative
National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change by the
Center for Naval Analysis Corporation Military Advisory Board, May 2014. This
last report makes it abundantly clear how well the U.S. military understands
climate change as a threat to its own facilities, to global economic networks,
and as a catalyst for conflict around the world.
||articles & essays
FOCUS on . . .
For more annotated links on aspects of the effect of global warming on people,
see the FOCUS pages on the
Climate/Human Past and
Hotter, Drier, Hungrier: How Global Warming Punishes the World's Poorest
Somini Sengupta, New York Times, March 2018
A vivid look at the effects of drought in Kenya and surrounding areas. What
happens to people's lives when the rains fail? This is an important topic to
Swallowed by the Sea
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, January 2018
Columnist Kristof is especially alert to human justice issues, and this short
piece is a good quick look at some of those associated with climate change,
focused here on child marriage in some of the poorest places on Earth. Another
strong column focused on starving children in drought-devastated Madagascar
Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration
The World Bank, March 2018
Focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, this important
report "warns that unless urgent climate and development action is taken,
these three regions could be dealing with a combined total of over 140 million
internal climate migrants by 2050." Concerted action, though, could reduce
this number "by as much as 80 percent‒or 100 million people." Full of
specifics and case studies. The Guardian has a good short story about the
Welcome to the Age of Climate Migration
Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, February 2018
Lest we think, complacently, that climate migration will only affect other
countries, this piece makes it very clear that the US will have its own issues
possibly quite large ones, given how much of our population lives on sea
coasts (Miami, Tampa) and in places where it is already hot and dry (Phoenix).
Note that in 2017 alone, more than a million Americans were displaced by
extreme weather linked to climate change (New Orleans, Houston). A vivid
Beyond Borders: Our Changing Climate‒Its Role in Conflict and Displacement
Environmental Justice Foundation, November 2017
This easy to read and lavishly illustrated 40-or-so page report is a good
overview of some of the key ways climate change is beginning to cause mass
population displacements and exacerbate conflicts around the globe. For
anyone who thinks the main risk is mostly to polar bears, this is a must-read.
The Unfolding Tragedy of Climate Change in Bangladesh
Robert Glennon, Scientific American (blog), April 2017
This guest blog lays out some of the actual ramifications (present and future)
for sea level rise in Bangladesh. Though Bangladeshis are doing much to help
their country, climate changes threaten to overwhelm recent development,
especially given the inevitable and massive human displacements.
The World Hasn't Had This Many People Dying of Starvation and Disease Since World War II
The Nation, Michael T. Klare, April 2017
Klare is the Nation's defense correspondent, and this essay calls appropriate
and needed attention to the many ways climate change is and will be wrecking
the lives of people who had almost nothing to do with causing it. Klare's
political stance is characteristic of this magazine, as the subtitle suggests:
"And the United States is complicit in their death."
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.
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.
Climate Change and National Security
For two good short overview pieces on Vox.com (November 2015), see David
The Right Way to Think about Climate Change and National Security
and Brad Plumer's
Closer Look at the Link between Climate Change and Violence.
The Pentagon & Climate Change: How Deniers Put National Security at Risk,
by Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, February 2015, is 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. For two excellent, lucid, concise, practical,
and authoritative reports, see the
2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap by the Department of Defense,
October 2014, and
National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change by the
Center for Naval Analysis Corporation Military Advisory Board, May 2014. These
last two reports make it abundantly clear how well the U.S. military
understands climate change as a threat to its own facilities, to global
economic networks, and as a catalyst for conflict around the world.
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.
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.
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
The Center for Climate and Security
The CCS is "a non-partisan security and foreign policy institute with a
distinguished Advisory Board of military, security and foreign policy
experts." It "envisions a climate-resilient international security landscape
. . . recognizes that climate change threats to international security are
significant and unprecedented, and acts to address those threats in a manner
that is commensurate to their scale, consequence and probability." Its work
includes policy development, analysis, and research, and its website offers
extensive resources for climate and security field.
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.
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, or
here on adaptation), the
(on heat-related disease, economic losses, sea-level rise and population
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
(on disasters), and the
Environmental Justice Foundation (on forced migration, conflict, and
climate justice). Finally, the
Global Call for
Climate Action is run by an alliance of organizations joining forces on
the matter of climate impacts on people.
Books on Social Sciences and Climate Change
Michael Svoboda, Yale Climate Connections, 2015
Part of an ongoing series about books and movies about this large subject, in
this case nine books that focus on insights from social scientists, all
published by good university presses in 2014 and 2015. In general, this is a
series worth watching.
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.
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.