Libby Abbott, Campaigns Coalition Manager at CAFOD, tells us why – for the love of water and communities facing drought – she is excited about CAFOD participating in the Climate Coalition’s ‘Show the love’ campaign this February.
I grew up in Texas which, despite what many people have told me, is not a desert – at least, not all desert. It has grassy plains, rolling hills, forests, swamps, beaches and even a few mountains tucked away (and, yes, there is desert).
That said, even in the wetter regions of Texas, we would experience the occasional drought. People easily got by with watering lawns less or only washing cars in the evening. Hosepipe bans weren’t uncommon, but the droughts never lasted very long.
But, in recent years drought has become the norm. Texas recently suffered from a three-year drought, and in fact some regions are still suffering from the same drought five years later with no relief in sight. In 2011, the drought was so bad the state was overwhelmed by wildfires in its forested state parks – wildfires so big they were seen from space. Overall, 4 million acres were affected, and one region the size of the state of Connecticut burned to the ground. Crops and livestock worth $7.6 billion (about £4.9 billion) were lost.
However, Texas is not only resilient, but rich. One of the only states in America to have growth during the recession, Texas has a number of industries on which it could rely throughout the drought; and damaged state parks will receive funding for regeneration. Water planning and security is a serious issue for many communities (some having to ship in their supplies), but they are managing. Hunger wasn’t really an issue with the agricultural loss – they just imported what was needed.
In 2011, another drought hit communities in the world – in East Africa. Those affected communities did not have the same wealth to support them. When their crops and livestock died, people went hungry.
I started working at CAFOD just before 2011’s East Africa Appeal began, and one thing was clear: these droughts, whether in Africa or America, were more extreme, more erratic, and harder to predict. Because of climate change, it is likely extreme weather like this will be expected in future – and it is the single biggest threat to development today.
That’s why, for the love of water, I have been participating in the Climate Coalition’s #Showthelove campaign. CAFOD is a member of the Climate Coalition, so this week we have all been finding ways to show the love for the things we don’t want to lose to climate change. On Tuesday, we had a lunchtime craft session where we made and shared green hearts with each other to raise awareness of the Climate Coalition’s call to action. It was not only a really fun break with co-workers, but it gave us all a chance to put into perspective what climate change was doing to the things we love.
We’ve promoted a newly released film by Ridley Scott Associates, where a number of celebrities (including CAFOD ambassadors David Harewood and Dermot O’Leary) eloquently read a well-known love poem as a way to get the message about climate change to a wider audience. The Climate Coalition also have a great online tool to make some really eye-catching valentines based on the things you love.
We’re trying to raise awareness because we want as many people who are concerned about climate change to speak up to their leaders, and on Wednesday 17 June they will be able to do just that. CAFOD and the Climate Coalition will be hosting Speak Up For The Love Of, a mass lobby taking place in Westminster, where 10,000 people will be speaking to their newly-elected MPs on why climate change as an issue matters.
Let’s not lose what we love to climate change. Let’s protect God’s creation and the most vulnerable, those who are already affected by climate change. Take action with CAFOD today and #showthelove for the Climate Coalition.