Poem courtesy of Anonymous from Manchester High School For Girls, in conversation with Toryn Whitehead
My villages and municipalities around me,
My heart aches, for you loss, is the gain of another across the water,
That reaps his profits as he watches our torture.
While we learn to make-do with the saline soils,
And the shrinking of our land, and the members lost as we watch them drown.
We fight harder against the increasing storms that snatch our harvests,
possessions but not our island.
For we will stay strong against the winds nearby Thailand.
The skies are not happy, and neither are we.
The only winner is the one across the water.
Where did your inspiration for the poem come from?
“One of the topics that we study in geography is global inequality and how climate change disproportionately impacts developing countries.”
“Typically with climate change you have large consumerism within more developed countries and as a result of that all the emissions that are released drives climate change.”
However, the impact of climate change is not felt equally across countries, and island nations as one example are acutely vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. This is highlighted throughout the poem which alludes to the “increasing storms”, loss of “harvests”, “saline soils” and encroaching sea devouring islands centimetre by centimetre.
“Hazards that they [the Philippines] experience year-on-year are being exacerbated by climate change and it’s not even the majority of their fault.”
Who exactly is the one across the water? Did you have a particular country or person in mind when you wrote this?
“I didn’t mention any country specifically because I wanted to highlight that this can effect any country and the one across the water refers to developed countries generally.”
“Right now it feels like the only people benefiting from this [climate change] are those who continue to live their lives without consideration for climate change. This is not an option for island nation countries.”
So, facing this huge problem spanning a global scale, how do you think we can start to overcome climate change?
“Read! A very easy book to understand is Factfulness by Hans Rosling. He perfectly explains how population works and how our growing population coincides with climate change”.
Knowledge is power. The more you know about climate change, the more you come to realise how complex and deep-rooted the issue is and that solving it requires everyone. Although one persons individual actions may be negligible, when put together every little change makes a big difference. Collectively, we must stand up and do our bit, pushing the world towards a future where island nations are not on the endangered list.
Graphic courtesy of Nahal Sheikh.