Lily Cole writes: In September 2014, a report published by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) found that 20.6 million people were displaced by extreme weather events in 2013. That’s almost three times as many as those fleeing current conflicts.
The number one cause of global relocation now is climate change – yet there is no international recognition for the status of climate change refugees, and no insurance policies for them. They are in the shadows of international media, and often have little access to support in their home countries.
In a cruel irony, some of the world’s most fragile communities – the ones most closely connected to the natural world, who have lived most sustainably and have had the least impact on our changing climate – are the first to suffer as a result of its changes.
In October, I travelled for three days to visit two Yawanawá indigenous communities deep in the Amazon. We slept in hammocks in wooden houses, enjoyed the company of friendly people, and spent time with the village shaman, who told us of birds freezing in trees the week prior to our arrival owing to excessive cold at night. When I thanked one of the women for hosting us, she said: “We don’t own this land; we are merely its caretakers. So our house is open to visitors, and you are always welcome.” [Continue reading…]