Actress Joy Bryant is an Oxfam America Sisters on the Planet Ambassador. She recently spoke about the disproportionate impacts climate change has on poor people at an Earth Day event on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
We often think about the impacts of global warming as something happening in the distant future. But the reality is that communities around the world are dealing with it right now. From Ethiopia to Bangladesh, South Africa to our own Gulf Coast, we have witnessed the shocking damage from droughts, floods, and extreme weather associated with climate change. And as Hurricane Katrina’s devastation showed, it’s the poorest and most vulnerable who are hit first and worst.
Women in poor communities are particularly vulnerable. Because of their roles in communities and families, they often have access to less education and fewer resources, all of which makes it more difficult for them to cope.
This is why I began to work with Oxfam America and became a Sisters on the Planet Ambassador. As a Sister, I have committed to raising awareness about the impact that climate change is having on people — and what we can do to help.
Whether it’s building coastal tree barriers or developing early warning systems, the solutions are real and attainable.
Climate change is a global problem. And global problems need global solutions. If we want to truly tackle this problem, we need to act as global citizens. This means looking out for the earth we share and our brothers and sisters around the world – especially the least fortunate among us.
It starts here. Now.
We must all work on reducing our carbon footprint. But we must also fight to make sure that the poorest people, who are suffering the most but contributed the least to climate change, have the necessary resources to survive.