(The Tower of Babel) interview transcripts

With support from The Amsterdam Collective Casa de Cultura, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Laajasalon opisto and Tohmajärvi Residency I have collected people’s personal experiences with climate change. Funding has been made possible by Finlandia Foundation National and The Puffin Foundation.

Click on the country to be linked to the World Bank Climate Change Knowledge Portal that provides scientific evidence of climate change around the world.

 

 

J

English

New York, US

Education is important in teaching people about climate change. People also need activities that can show them and inform them how to do things better. We can start by convincing the people that we care about.
We are really pushing consumption when we should be pushing conservation: hold on to what you have; make it little, don’t make it big. This is like a whole mindset that we have grown away from.
She believes that everybody has to sit back and think about what they are doing. We don’t have any time to wait. We are not going to make these kinds of sacrifices unless we see the greater good and the greater good is that we are all in this together and we are all related.

M

Cantonese

Hong Kong

During her childhood in Hong Kong she experienced the four seasons. Her family made seasonal foods to help the body adjust and be balanced from one season to another. In spring or fall certain soups were made to reduce dampness or dryness in the body. At school they had two different uniforms for spring/summer and fall/winter. Parents were notified when to switch their child’s uniform according to the season. In today’s climate, the four seasons are blend into one – summer. Traditional Chinese New Year is around January or February. As a young child her mom bought her a new dress or winter coat to celebrate the New Year and her growth. She still remembers the cozy, warm feeling of a new dress made of wool or velvet. In today’s climate higher temperatures linger longer all year around. Children can now wear short sleeve shirts and enjoy ice cream during the traditional Chinese New Year.

O

Russian

New York, US

With her family they used to love winter gatherings on their frozen pond in upstate New York. They played music and danced on the frozen ice. They miss this fun family winter activity which they have not been able to do for many years. Each winter for the past 15-20 years their pond froze over but for the recent 4-5 years in has stopped freezing entirely.

S

Spanish

Connecticut, US / Honduras

He was born in Honduras from “Jaimeneros” parents and Garifuna Culture. He lived in Connecticut for 32 years and recently moved to NYC. He had a garden in Connecticut where he used to plant and grow food. As a farmer, he noticed changes in the environment like the lack of snow in the last few years. The lack of snow affects the crops. As a farmer he also noticed that it became harder to find some products, prices started going up and if he was able to find certain products, they were more expensive and less nutritious (higher price for less quality).

In poor countries, like Honduras, the lack of rain affects farming. The caravans of people traveling from Honduras to the US border is partially happening due to lack of agronomic resources. Many young people cannot find work because there is no income from the farming, and no support for farmers.
He wants to ask churches and different programs to help immigrants find farmers who cultivate coffee and basic grains so that they don’t have to leave their countries and suffer the immigration journey and instead can stay in Honduras and live out of farming and help the country’s economy. Also, opportunities for higher education would help people stay in their country and work as farmers. We have been observing the global warming around the world and trying to learn what we can to make positive changes, learn about our responsibility and give higher respect to the planet where we live on.

C

English

Guyana

She is passionate about climate change because she sees it as an environmental justice issue; not all countries and people are affected by it equally. Guyana is below sea level and 90% of the population live along the coast. People in Guyana are very vulnerable to climate change disasters, especially flooding, storms and also droughts. In recent years there have been even more flooding. Large part of the population depend on agriculture and natural disasters affect livelihoods.
She is  also concerned about climate change and how it affects women. Women are a vulnerable group. They are employed in large numbers but they usually are on the bottom of the chain. They usually don’t own land and often are single parents and sole breadwinners of a family. With climate change disasters there are compound effects to their economic stability. As they loose income due to climate change disasters climate migration begins to happen.
When we include women and girls in projects and programs things tend to get better. Building back a sustainable future that is just and equitable we need to include women and girls.

S

Luganda

Uganda

Nature is beautiful and provides the best way for her to relax and feel calm. Uganda has a lot of beautiful nature and animals, like mountain gorillas, elephants, zebras and giraffes. Many of these endangered animals live in the many National Parks of Uganda. The source of River Nile is in Uganda and surrounded by Mabira Forest. If you travel to Uganda you will have a very beautiful experience exploring nature, seeing animals, doing water sports. Things however are not as they used to be and the rumors are that the government is selling Mabira Forest, the country’s treasure, little by little. The Forest used to be thick; no light could get through it. Because of deforestation it is thinning. Deforestation affects climate change and people’s lives in many ways, as it enhances soil erosion and heats up the environment. Forests also hold water and Uganda being an agricultural country, people’s crops suffer due to droughts. Also, when the soil is not rich it requires fertilizers and more fertilizers damage the environment. She is very concerned about the compound effects in this cycle. In other parts of Uganda swamps have been drained and houses are built on drained swamps. During high rainfalls the areas get flooded and properties destroyed. And she wonders what happened to the animals when the swamps were drained. She worries that every day we lose more nature in the name of industrialization, modernization, urbanization. Uganda has been called the Pearl of Africa because of its immense natural beauty, the animals, forests, mountains, savannas. That beauty she is worried is fading and she is further worried because Uganda as a poor country needs the tourism to provide income to its people.

G
Arabic
Syria
He greets friends from all around the world and also greets those friends who love nature and want to protect nature as he does. He is from a small, coastal city Tartus in Syria. He has noticed changes in the environment due to climate change which he finds frightening and a dangerous problem. He worries that the environmental changes will eliminate wildlife which in terms can affect the continuation of humanity. In his view the planet Earth is our mother and we are her children. We must feel her pain because when we harm the natural world we harm the planet and then ourselves. The planet has feelings and emotions like we do. She suffers and also rejoices with us. He feels that we should protect nature as we would protect our own children. We need to protect nature from pollution, deforestation, impact of factories and instead plant trees all over the world and practice cleanliness.

O

Ukrainian

Ukraine

She feels that one of the biggest problems in the world is climate change. In her native Ukraine there used to be four distinct seasons but now winter barely exists. Because there have been less snow the rivers and lakes are drying up which then causes the agriculture to suffer. In small towns people do not have irrigation systems and when the wells dry up for watering the plants the land also dries up. Agriculture suffers. Due to drying there have also been several forest fires and the fires have caused villages to burn down. As a consequence the inhabitants of the villages have suffered from severe smoke inhalation and allergies. She wants to stress that we need to take care of our lands and consider how each one of us can help. In Ukraine there are several programs to protect the environment but they have been poorly implemented. She feels that we need to support the scientists who research climate change and listen to them how we can stop climate change.

H
Arabic
Iraq
He is from Iraq, from a planet that is suffering. He wants to address all human beings on this earth and particularly his own people.
He feels that we have to face the fact that our environment is dying, our planet is dying. We have difficult problems to solve. For example, the animal diversity is decreasing all around the world. In Iraq there are species heading to extinction. 
The southern part of Iraq is getting saltier. The Shaat alarab river has increased in salinity. This body of water and Mesopotamian Marshes are decreasing in volume which impact the diversity of the species living there. 
He feels that we have to use our water resources wisely and carefully. Excessive use of water is a burden on our environment. We need to consider that we only have limited amount of resources. To ensure that future generations have a livable planet we need to live sustainably. 
He also finds that the use of plastic in every part of our daily lives is another heavy burden on our environment. 
He requests that we collaborate with each other and more effectively collaborate globally. People in charge should take serious actions to reduce the gas emissions to reduce global warming. We should collaborate to kill the big monster that we have created. In the end if we can minimize our impact on this planet, perhaps then our grandchildren and their children can live longer.

R

Spanish

Mexico

Some years ago he bought land in southern Mexico, Yucatan. The indigenous Mayan people live in Yucatan and he learned about how to enter a new community of people. As he was accepted to their community he started learning from them. They shared how changes are happening in their environment, like unpredictable seasonal changes. They also shared their natural ways of adapting to the changes. Mayans have cultivated the land for more than a thousand years and have great wisdom. However they are often treated as inferior in Mexico. He thinks that the view the scientific community has of climate change is important to acknowledge but he also thinks that if we want changes in terms of protecting the environment we have to be able to open our hearts and minds. Not all solutions will come from our way of intellectualizing but also from having a deeper connection with ourselves and our hearts. He learned in southern Mexico that when one has a respectful attitude towards a community that has cultivated the land for thousands of years and wants to really listen one may find solutions to environmental problems.

K

Spanish

Venezuela

She was born in Merida, Venezuela which is part of the Andean Mountain range. As a child going to school she always needed to wear a sweater, and there used to be fog at dawn. The fog has disappeared over the years due to global warming. The mountain city is now a warm city. Warming has also affected agriculture. In Merida there are many grasslands and with the rise of temperatures the soil has become more acid and crops have been damaged. In Venezuela there are many microclimates. In the central region there has been an increasing amount of drought and livestock have suffered. Other human caused damages like illegal mining in the rainforest region has polluted rivers which has caused fauna to die. Contamination has brought up diseases like malaria and yellow fever that were practically eradicated from the country. Excessive rainfalls have caused many landslides causing people to die and roads to fall. Supplies cannot be delivered when roads fall. She has a love of scuba diving. There used to be lots of scuba diving in the coastal region but with the rising ocean temperatures the corals and fauna have died.

M
Turkish & Kurmanji
Turkey
Turkey is an important country for having rich history and culture. The country is also important for its natural beauty. Because of the four seasons it is possible to enjoy both summer and winter sports there. He is concerned that in recent years the government and the society have not paid enough attention to the climate and nature. He believes more societal awareness is needed in this matter. He also feels that national and international research are needed to save the climate and nature.

S
Persian
Pakistan
He was very young when his family moved from Afganistan to Pakistan. Approximately 20 years ago the climate was better in Pakistan when there were less people and cars there. Today, the climate is much worse because people do not follow regulations and do not seem to consider nature. We are part of nature, he says. If we take care of nature, it means that we are taking care of ourselves and can have a better life.

K

English

Massachusetts, US

She has spent a lot of her time in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and has seen a lot of changes over the years. Last summer she noticed some big changes. There have been more shark and seal encounters in Cape Cod. Also, you never hear of a tornado in Cape Cod but recently there was a tornado on their street. She and her husband couldn’t believe the tornado warnings but it came and whipped through their street knocking down many trees. It made a lot of damage in ten minutes.

R

Finnish

Finland

As a child he always commuted to school by skis. Every winter there was snow. In recent years there have been less and less snow in southern Finland. Last winter there was barely any snow. He loves skiing but was unable to ski even once.

As a child he also did forestry work with his father. They used a horse buggy. In today’s climate it would be impossible to do forestry work with a horse buggy because the forest floors are too soft, not frozen and the buggy wheels would sink into the forest floors.
Lots of changes in climate have happened in six decades that he can remember easily.

B

Spanish

Spain

The summer weather in the northern Spain has been hot and dry, with temperatures around 42-50 degrees Celsius. That is very unusual for the north. She cannot understand how people keep denying climate change.

C

Spanish

Spain

For more than ten years people have depended, specially in the South of Spain, on water containers to survive and the phenomenon keeps getting bigger. He thinks that the seasons are very unbalanced. The change of seasons is not happening the same time as it used to. There have been a significant rise in temperatures during the past years. There are also problems with big storms and tornadoes that are affecting the coast areas of the Mediterranean, like Valencia, Castellón and the southeast of Spain. Past winter the coldest temperatures in past 50 or 60 years were measured. Madrid was under snow for almost two weeks. This incident brought many problems to people: people died buried under snow, many were trapped in buses and trapped in their cars on highways.

S

English

New York, US

It was a mild winter. Without the precipitation, snow on the ground, the water to fill the rivers there’s a potential of forest fires and lessening of water supply. It is worrisome to have such mild winters.

L

English

Georgia, US

She feels that the absence of spring and fall seasons has caused her to experience mental health problems like depression. She finds an abrupt change from cold to hot challenging. It was not like that when she was a child.

R

Spanish

Chile

The weather in Chile has been changing and for instance in 2019 there was a very strange phenomenon to southern Chile: a tornado. This dangerous weather event is very uncommon to Chile. Over decades the weather and environment have changed. As a child he remembers distinct seasons. December used to be very hot and dry, and August and September very cold. An old saying was: fortunately we got through August, meaning that for the elderly coldness of August was sometimes too much to bare. But now it is common to have rain in November and December which used to be the hot, dry season. The seasons are less distinct but the extreme hot and cold temperatures have risen.
He feels that nature is complaining of pain caused by humans. It is crying out for help by reacting with big natural disasters. We should all be aware of this and do something to protect the creation. In his view nature was given by the Creator for us to cherish and not to exploit until the last drop. He thinks that education about environmental protection is important. But we cannot ask others to act if we don’t serve as examples ourselves. He wishes good luck for everyone!

T

Georgian

Georgia

She feels that climate change is a global problem, including her native Georgia. In Georgia they used to have four distinct seasons but today, she feels that they have only two seasons, winter and summer. It is either too hot or too cold which causes difficulties in cultivating the land and getting a good harvest. Georgia is known for wine. Without suitable weather and climate like a normal Georgian autumn, it is impossible to have a good harvest. This has been a big problem to the farmers.
She also feels that people are unable to adapt to the rapid changes in weather which affects human health. One of the most painful problems in Georgia is the highly polluted air in the capital Tbilisi caused by vehicle exhaust. She is sorry to see that the country has not done enough to provide appropriate services to improve the quality of the environment in Tbilisi and Georgia.

კლიმატის ცვლილება  დღეს დღეობოით არის  ერთ ერთი ყველაზე გლობალური პრობლემა მთელს სამყაროში რომელიც  შეინიშნება მთელ დედამიწაზე  და მათ შორის ჩემს ქვეყანაში საქართველოშიც.  ჩვენ ჩვეულებრივ სააქრთველოში გვაქვს ოთხი სეზონი, გაზაფხული ,ზაფხული, შემოდგომა და ზამთარი . ჩემს ბავშვობაში მახსოვს მე ძალინ ლამაზი გაზაფხული და შემოდგომა, მაგრამ დღეს დღეობით მე ვფიქრობ, რომ ჩვენ მხოლოდ ორი სეზონიღა გვაქვს, უმეტესად ზამთარი და ზაფხული.ძალიან სიცხე   ან ძალიან სიცივე, რაც პრობლემას უქმნის ქვეყნის კულტივაციას და მოსავალს.მაგალითად საქართველოში გვაქვს ბევრი სახეობის ვაზი და  ვაწარმოებთ ღვინოს . ამიტომ თუ არ გვაქვს შესაბამისი კლიმატი მაგალითად ნორმალური შემოდგომა მოსავალიც არ იქნება კარგი. აქედან გამომდინარე ფერმერ  ხალხსაც უქმნის   საკმაოდ დიდ პრობლემას .  კიდევ ჩემის აზრით ეს მოქმედებს ადამიანის ჯანმრთელობაზეც,  ანუ ამინდების სწრაფი ცლილება , ერთი უკიდურესობიდან მეორეში ,სიხციდან სიცივეში ან პირიქით,გარკვრულ შეუგუებლობას   უქმნის  განსაკუთრებით წნევის და გულის სისხლძარღვთა დაავადების მქონე ადამიანებს. და ბოლოს ჩემი ქვეყნის მტკივნეული პრობლემა ეს არის საქართველოს დედაქალაქ თბილისის  ძალზედ დაბინძურებული ჰაერი, რომელიც გამოწვეულია ავტომანქანების გამონაბოლქვით და მოუვლელობით , რომელსაც არ უწევენ შესაბამის სამსახურს რომ გააუმჯობესონ დედაქალაქის ეკოლოგიური მდგომარეობა.

T

English

New York, US

He is excited that the youth are getting involved in impacting climate change. His niece knows how to recycle which is an advancement from the days when he was much younger. The earth needs to be a sustainable place to live and it is important for everyone to be part of that cause.

S

English

New York, US

She has a photo from her childhood with snow higher than herself. It has not snowed like that since. She remembers the two hurricanes that happened in NYC recently. She thinks that hurricanes in NYC should generally be so rare that they happen 100 years apart.

A-M

Finnish

Finland

Finns celebrate name days, meaning that on each day of the year someone’s name is acknowledged. There is an old way of saying related to the name days: Simo builds bridges and Antti carries buggy shafts. Simo’s day is celebrated in October and it used to be that the winter frost came by Simo’s day. By Antti’s day which is celebrated in November, the frost used to be strong enough for the horse buggies to travel in the forests. The farmers could begin forestry work as the ground was sturdy and not soft under the buggy reels.
In today’s climate the winter frost comes much later and sometimes not until January. The old-school horse buggies would sink into the soft forest floors. She believes that a good frost would also give nature a chance to rest. Now there are more plant diseases, pests and weeds and more pesticides are needed to control farming.

C

Portuguese

Brazil

She is from Brazil, Porto Alegre and thinks that it is impossible not to see the effects of climate change. She has particularly seen its signs in the southern Brazil, through torrential rains, flash floods, and heavy winds that now occur more frequently. These climate events have led to people losing their homes and belongings that often took life times to build. Many farmers have lost their crops, their livelihood but also this has made it harder for people to access food. She thinks that it is important to be attentive to the individual choices we make because these choices have an impact in climate change. But collective pressure for actions is needed so that we can detain further climate changes.

M

Spanish

Argentina

He remembers July 9th, a few years ago, especially well because it is the independence day of Argentina and that day it snowed. That day he traveled from New York to be with his family. It never snows in Buenos Aires and everyone was amazed to see the snow. It was even in the news. He was not excited because he was not looking forward to another winter after New York winter.

R

Finnish

Finland

She is worried how the climate may change and how it may influence her future. She hopes that we can stop climate change.

C

Italian

Amazon forest

A couple of years ago she visited the Amazon forest for the first time in her life and found herself overwhelmed by an infinite sense of beauty and the power of nature, trees, water, birds and other living species. She felt like a speckle in the panorama of life. In seeing such beauty in an environment full of vitality and strength made her think of other environments that are dying, like forests, coral reefs, and glaciers. The loss of these environments made her feel like losing tissue of her own body, her own life, and all the richness that she carries within herself.

A

German

Austria

At her home country in Austria she has experienced climate change and environmental protection issues. She hears that the mountain glaciers are thinning and the ice is melting more and more rapidly. This causes flash floods and stone falls that bury roads and destroy houses. The melting ice makes the rivers overflow. Temperatures have risen. Temperatures above 38 degrees C are not uncommon any more. She asks herself if there is anything she could do to protect the environment and climate. She questions whether her family needs a car. Maybe they can rent one when needed. She tries to avoid traveling by plane and considers traveling only locally. She also thinks that it is better to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables. It is important for all of us to ask ourselves what we can do to protect the environment.