Three weeks after US President Donald Trump announced that “as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the… Paris Accord,” Shiva, a subsistence farmer in the Nepali village of Saipu, says: “It’s like God is mad and has disappeared and something evil is taking over the sky…Look at my corn. It’s thirsty, but there is no water any more.” He pauses and then quietly adds, “climate change. The people who are causing this are killing us.”
Trump promised to end the “draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country” because “we don’t want other countries laughing at us any more”. But after enduring suffering for more than two years Shiva and his fellow subsistence farmers know the real threat of climate change.
“The earthquakes destroyed our homes, school and health clinic, but those we will eventually rebuild,” a man named Gopal interjects. “But erratic weather with little rain is already bringing the final disaster. “Anguished expressions settle on their faces as the conversation escalates. “It rained heavily in March when we needed dry weather to plant corn,” a woman named Kalpana adds. “And then it was dry in April and May when planted corn needed water. It’s never been this way. The corn is small. We should be harvesting it now and getting ready to plant rice, but everything is running behind. The whole cycle of life is changing.”
She looks up at the cloudless sky, which should be dark and full of life-giving rain at the beginning of the monsoon season. She knows that the rhythm of subsistence farming that has evolved over the centuries is not some arbitrary human choice, but is dependent upon reasonably predictable natural cycles. Her observations about climate change are not made causally. They are the result of traditional knowledge of a topic that has always been a matter of survival. Climate change: for them is a catastrophic reality.In this village with no electricity, where the basic fuel is wood, and there are no vehicles aside from a couple of tractors and four-wheel drives to ferry people and supplies up and down the landslide-prone road, residents know they contribute nothing to the factors creating climate change and, yet, are on the receiving end of its consequences. Read More