Translating Climate Change into Marshallese

by Phoebe Shum

How do you effectively communicate the impending threat of climate change to those who don’t even understand the concept due to lexical gaps? Peter Rudiak-Gould, currently an assistant Anthropology professor at University of Toronto, explains how much meaning is lost through translation between scholars to citizens, English to other languages, and even citizens to scholars when discussing climate change issues (2012). Rudiak-Gould spent almost two years in the Republic of the Marshall Islands researching local opinions on climate change. The Marshall Islands is especially endangered by rising sea levels, and information about the dangers have been relayed through various forms of media and government organizations, informing them that the 60,000 citizens will probably need to relocate in 80 years. However, since the word for ‘climate’ in Marshallese also refers to the environment and universe, citizens attribute climate change as a result of anything from solar eclipses to accelerating time. This has resulted in the Marshallese blaming everything on this omnipotent concept of climate change whenever something out of the ordinary happens. Continue reading

Who Cares About Climate Change in Wales?

by Phoebe Shum

Getting people to do something about climate change can be a tough feat. Eleri Evans, PhD candidate at Swansea University UK, explores how a community arts program was designed with the hopes of involving more people in taking action against climate change in Wales (Evans 2014). She elaborates on theories of critical realism and how our actions are affected by the way we think. She introduces the theory of internal conversation and explains how people actively converse with themselves to define their values and actions. To demonstrate her point, she focuses on a particular community arts project organized by Awel Aman Tawe (AAT), a community wind farm project in Southern Wales. AAT, founded in 2000, is a renewable energy activist group that has faced both success and hostility from their community. Their aim in developing an arts program was to engage people on a deeper, personal level with climate change and initiate change-oriented intervention. The program features film, drama, poetry, and a project named “Postcards from the Future,” in which people submit original images of what a climate-changed world would look like. Competitions like their bilingual climate change poetry competition received over 700 received entries worldwide. The arts program was successful in providing the community with a platform to bring the community together and initiate change. Continue reading

How Climate Change Affects Women in Ghana

by Phoebe Shum

Who knew that gender bias could exist even in a topic such as climate change?

According to the UN, women are most vulnerable to climate change due to their role in food production. After all, 70% of the world’s farmers are women, and these women produce 60-80% of the world’s food crops. Trish Glazebrook (2011), Philosophy Professor from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, explains how climate change particularly affects women subsistence farmers in areas of poverty. In northeast Ghana, the successful growing of crops is highly dependent on the rainy season due to the lack of irrigation technology. The rainy season is the only growing cycle per year, and when anthropogenic climate change causes extreme and abnormal weather conditions like droughts and floods, farming patterns are altered and the women are not able to provide subsistence for their families. Land degradation, desertification and soil erosion heavily affect the women, and the many people they provide for. On average, one woman can be responsible for 6 to 17 people, from children to the elderly to the sick to the handicapped. Their survival heavily depends on natural resources. Continue reading

Soy Sauce or Water? China’s Soil Contamination and Water Supply

by Phoebe Shum

For many Americans, the term “local” food usually coincides with sustainability, farmer’s markets, and everything environmental. This is not the case in modern day China. In fact, it is the very opposite. He-Guangwei, investigative reporter for The Times Weekly, explains that China’s rapid modernisation has brought about severe stress on the agricultural soil quality. The contamination in soil has brought about a myriad of other problems such as water quality degradation due to heavy metal pollution and cancer-caused deaths. In particular, Lake Tai, the third largest freshwater lake in China that supplies drinking water to more than 30 million people, has become so polluted as a result of factory run-off. The water has even been described to resemble soy sauce. It’s devastating to see that the once crystal-clear waters of Lake Tai now have the ability to turn people’s sweat into a color resembling mud. Farmers around the Lake Tai area refuse to eat the very crops they grow, fully aware that their produce is planted in cadmium, lead and mercury infused soil. The government remains unresponsive to the scale of the issue, wary of attracting negative media and international attention. Continue reading