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Climate Change Stories Rewritten

The Climate Illustrated project grabbed my attention on Instagram because they are doing something different than the other activists out there. First of all, they are using the platform to share stories. Stories from real people allowing us to glimpse into the richness and diversity of the human experience, and how that experience is being threatened by climate change.



The stories that they share are of real people and their concerns over environmental issues - how they overlap with climate justice, daily survival, and their deep connection to the natural world. It is an amazing way to glimpse snapshots of life around the world.

But more than that, the images that they are using to tell these stories are stunning and powerful at the same time. It goes far beyond the usual depiction of climate change issues with melting glaciers and threatened polar bears. Through illustrations, they depict scenes that could be snapshots of a life or a portrait of resistance.

This illustration depicts the story of young Anelisa, in Cape Town, South Africa, and her concerns over water, sanitation, and COVID-19. She knows that climate change and pollution are only making her situation worse. This project gives her voice and helps us put faces to the issues. This was illustrated for @climateillustrated by Irina @iruksson.

I was so incredibly delighted to be able to connect with co-founders Marte Skaara in Oslo, Norway, and Michaela Koke in San Francisco, U.S., along with one of the team's very talented Illustrators, Luise Hesse in Haller, Germany.

Here is a sample of one of the stories that they post, this one written by Marte about her connection to the land, to place, and how climate change is impacting that.

"My horse and sheep roam free on my family’s small farm along the North Sea.

It’s a place of wind and waves. The meadows are covered with wildflowers. The seagulls cry, the common linnets land on the straws to feed, and the swallows nest in the barn.

We used to have distinct seasons. Now, the snow that used to come every year is mostly gone.

Climate change is the sound of heavy rain hitting the windows in winter.

Climate change is also fear of drought and not having enough feed for the animals on the farm. Two summers ago, the flowers died and the grass would not grow from lack of water.

I feel sad knowing we have caused this. This "we" mostly refers to a very small part of humanity, the part I come from. “We” live our lives in an abundance of monetary riches while so many people in the world are struggling to survive.

I feel angry knowing there are people valuing money and power over human and non-human life. It is an anger that eats me up from the inside.

I put my hands in the soil and dig a small hole, and then another one and another one. As I work the land, I can feel the anger and sadness leaving my body. To me, nature has no price and no owners. The land belongs to those who love it and respect it and care for it.

In the small holes I plant sunchokes. I long to see them grow and bloom, and I feel my body fill with love for life. The abundance of nature gives me hope for a better tomorrow - one where humans rediscover their roots to the land.

With everything happening in the world - the craziness of Trump’s America, the cultural genocide of the Uighurs in China, children in South Africa not having clean water to wash their hands during the pandemic, Bolsonaro’s devastation of the Amazon rainforest – hope can be hard to hold on to.

But I do hope, because I can imagine a different world.

It is a world where justice prevails. Black people, Uighurs, the so-called ‘poor’ people – everyone – matters and shares the same political freedoms and access to water, food, healthcare and education. We take care of each other and take care of nature.

The sunchokes will bloom.
The world will change."

Story by @marte_skaara. Illustration by @tournesoliloque.

Marte Skaara
Co-founder and Creative Director
Marte is a journalist and human geographer with a degree in meteorology and oceanography. She has worked with climate and sustainability at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment, and as a writer for newspapers and magazines. Her work is related to climate change communication, adaptation, and transformation, as well as the role of emotions and hope in these processes.

Michaela Koke
Co-founder and Outreach Director
Michaela has bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies and International Affairs and a master’s degree in Environmental Law and Policy. She works in climate philanthropy. Her work focuses on climate change mitigation and resilience and she has worked across environmental areas such as conservation, biodiversity, and agriculture. Michaela has experience from UNFCCC and collected the first stories for Climate Illustrated at the UN climate summit in Katowice.

Luise Hesse
Luise is an illustrator and graphic designer. She has a degree in Communication Design and works freelance. With her illustrations and infographics she educates and raises awareness about Climate Change, sustainability and environmental protection. Luise is part of Climate Illustrated's Illustration team.

See Climate Illustrated on Instagram or see an overview of how art is being used to make positive change for the environment with my post on Creatives for a Sustainable Future.
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