Have you hugged a person lately?
Thereâs a photo of me on my office door: Iâm standing in Muir Woods north of San Francisco hugging an enormous redwood tree. At the bottom, Iâve written, âHave you hugged a tree lately?âÂ Thatâs a bit of a tongue in cheek question. You see, when I started working on climate change over a year ago, I wondered, why am I working on an environmental issue? Climate change is about the environment. Itâs about trees and air and water. Then I started digging deeper and connecting the dots. And thatâs when I realized that climate change isnât just about the environment. Itâs about people: you, me, our families, our children. Itâs about the one billion plus people around the world who eke out an existence on less than a dollar a day.
Climate change for them isnât about a slightly warmer summer or a rainy month of October. For people living in extreme poverty, climate change is about having enough food to eat in the face of increasing droughts. Itâs about having fewer instances of diarrhea in the face of more frequent flooding. Itâs about not losing your home and livelihood repeatedly in the face of more severe cyclones. Put frankly, itâs about survival. This is the human face of climate change because climate change is a people issue. And we canât afford to ignore it â for our own wellbeing and for the sake of poverty alleviation. We canât succeed if we ignore climate change.
So in the final fifty days before global negotiations conclude in Copenhagen, the real question to ask isnât âhave you hugged a tree lately?âÂ but âhave you hugged a person lately?âÂ