by Emily Myron -- October 20th, 2011
This past Monday, there was a student-initiated screening of the documentary Climate Refugees . If you thought movies like Free Willy and Blood Diamond tug at your heart strings, you haven’t seen this movie, yet. I urge you to watch the trailer, but, in short, this film truly gives a face to climate change. According to the film, “A climate refugee is a person displaced by climatically induced environmental disasters.” This includes those displaced by tsunamis in SE Asia, as well as those displaced in Louisiana by Katrina – while those hit hardest tend to be poorer nations, this phenomenon is occurring in our own backyard, too. So what will happen when entire nations, such as Tuvalu and the Maldives, go under water? Where will they go? Will other nations accept them as refugees? Are there enough resources to share?
As the documentary points out, it is getting to the point that the question we are asking is no longer “is this going to happen,” it is “what will we do when it does happen?” Tuvalu is already in a state of emergency due to severe droughts – unfortunately, they are the world’s canary in a rapidly changing coalmine. We are reminded that climate change is not just an environmental problem, it is a human problem, and we will all be affected.
This is something we, as environmentalists, have to remember. The victims of climate change are not just coral reefs and alpine trees; they are children in Bangladesh, herders in Kenya, and farmers in the Midwest. The thought of people losing their family, livelihood, culture, and country absolutely breaks my heart.
This film really got to me – really made me think (as all good documentaries should) – so I wanted to pass on the message and get you to think, as well. I don’t mean to preach, just to start some conversations. If I have learned anything in my short life, it is that apathy doesn’t help anyone.