The human cost of climate change

lisa being secretariat.jpg

I think I got carried away in the glitz and glamour of playing ‘grown up’ with government delegates and being at the UN that I lost touch with the reality that causes these talks to be held in the first place. Climate change is real, and it is being caused by extensive emissions released into the atmosphere by humans. These points can be agreed on by the majority of scientists and governments from around the world. The part that I have found myself forgetting is the human cost of these changes. It is easy to talk about the number of deaths caused by climate change induced (or exacerbated) storms when they are just that, statistics. It is harder to comprehend that each one of those statists is a person, just like you and I. We may not speak the same language or wear the same clothes. We may not eat the same food or practice the same religion. We may not understand each other’s views on life, or indeed know anything about climate change at all. Yet we are all still human and each life lost is a terrible sacrifice made for the continued prosperity of a very small majority of global inhabitants. I am currently one of that small majority, whether I want to acknowledge that or not, and whether I am prepared to accept it or not.

After reading a powerful, emotive blog today I have tried to recognise that over this first week of COP19 I have sheltered in the safe world of ‘learning the ropes at COP’ and not activity participating in the dialogue that begins to address these important issues. Is it the easy way out to stand on the sidelines and watch people make interventions or plan actions, and be the quiet observer? I feel a huge personal responsibility to speak on behalf of people I don’t know, and will probably never know, because I have the privilege to have access to the information and resources that surround this complex social, economic, environmental and political issue. Does that mean I am the right person to be speaking for them? Is there any other way that I could privilege their voice without imposing my own views and opinions? These are the important questions I want to locate, explore, uncover and recognise during this next COP week.


All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences, and do not reflect those of the Institute.

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Posted on November 19, 2013 and filed under UN Climate Talks 2013.