CLIMATE DISASTER PROJECT MANIFESTO
Climate change is destroying lives and livelihoods.
The losses of those who have lived through floods, heatwaves, wildfires, and other extreme weather events are a testament to this destruction. Those events caused US$1.4 trillion in damages between 2010-9: an increase of almost 693.7 percent since 1970-9. Between 2008-2020, such events also caused 283 million people to be displaced within their own countries. We don’t know if all of those events are the result of climate change. But we do know their frequency and intensity has increased because of climate change.
That means we are all climate disaster survivors.
By the end of this century, climate change could cause at least 83 million premature deaths, more than outdoor air pollution and almost as much as obesity. At the same time, by 2050, extreme heat could cause up to three billion to seek refuge in cooler climes. And, 50 years later, there could be up to two billion more refugees as a result of rising sea levels. That means climate change will become the defining experience of our individual and collective lives, both dividing and potentially uniting us.
But we don’t always see ourselves or others that way.
Instead, climate change can often seem like it’s happening somewhere else, to someone else, or to no one else but us or our community. In part, that’s because the activism and reporting on climate change has often focused on its political, economic, and environmental impacts. But we talk less about its human impacts, because there has been too often a failure to personalize the experience of climate change, beyond anecdotal and statistical accounts of the ongoing disaster we are living through.
So we feel alone in our climate change experiences.
And in this aloneness we suffer. A study of 10,000 young people in 10 countries, found nearly 60 percent of them are extremely worried or very worried about climate change. Nor are young people alone in these feelings. Seventy-four percent of Canadians are worried or very worried about climate change. And fifty-nine percent of Americans feel the same way. As a society, we have become frightened of the future tense. And that’s because we know what is happening in the present tense is a prelude of calamities to come.
Sharing our experiences can help us feel less alone and bring us hope.
The most powerful social movements of the now have been born from survivors who transformed their private experiences into public ones. In making those stories public, these survivors knew they weren’t alone. They knew they were part of a community. They knew they could make change together. Because, in the sharing of story, we can create community. And in creating community, we can find hope. Hope that we can create a more equitable society against the backdrop of climate change. Hope that we can create a more resilient society against the backdrop of climate change. And hope that we can, together, take the actions needed to survive climate change. This is the work of the Climate Disaster Project.