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Through my Lens: Christmas will not be a time for gifts for those who have been affected by the climate crisis
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Through my Lens: Christmas will not be a time for gifts for those who have been affected by the climate crisis

Through My Lens: There will be no gifts this Christmas for those affected by climate crisis


These past weeks were difficult. I had to make tough decisions about whether to buy gifts for Maine family and friends or send donations to help my friends and family who are suffering from severe water and food shortages. Recent droughts in Kenya and Somalia have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and affected 2.3 million people.

It can be hard to get into Christmas spirit when family members who love you are forced to face the harsh realities that the climate crisis is bringing on their lives by drinking water boreholes.

Abdi Nor Iftin, a Somali-American journalist, writer and public speaker, is an American radio journalist. He lives in Yarmouth.

The entire continent of Africa is responsible for only 4% of the world’s carbon emissions, while its nations remain among those most vulnerable to climate change. On the other hand, the United States is responsible for 28% of the world’s carbon emissions. Anyone who hears the grim realities of climate change from their loved ones can see how serious this problem really is.

I saw many photos on social media of animals starving and dying due to lack of water. There were also many photos of families trekking hundreds of kilometers to cities to get food and water. My family is still living in one of the largest camps of internally displaced people on the outskirts Mogadishu, and they are seeing the direct effects of climate-related dangers. More than 1,000,000 people now live in the makeshift camp that was home to a few hundred thousand local displaced people a few months back.

My mother claims that she spends her whole day looking for water. Boreholes, which are narrow, deep, underground holes, are where she spends most her time. She joins a long list of families who wait with jerrycans. These containers are made from pressed metal and can be used to store liquid. Everything else is now dried up. As we were busy ordering Christmas presents, mothers who walked for hours returned home with water and food to their children, not gifts.

In the coming months and years, more people will need to flee their homes. Natural disasters – not conflicts – will be the major driver of displacement and will produce more refugees around the globe. It is time to have a national conversation about climate change. Talk to your family about the challenges faced by humans and the impact of carbon dioxide that our countries have on the world. It’s time we address this climate crisis as an urgent issue the same way we address other issues that force us to rally.

Christmas is temporary and we carry the good stories with us into the next holiday season. Maine’s Christmas charms are irresistible; they put smiles on my face even during the difficult times when I worry about my family’s welfare. The nightly glow of Christmas – the lighted Christmas trees and the endless Christmas songs played at coffee shops and grocery stores – bring so much joy to our souls and are things I want my family members to see someday. I wish that every human could experience these joyous moments. I wish more Americans knew how fortunate they are to enjoy these peaceful moments.

This Christmas will be different for many of Maine’s newest arrivals, particularly those whose families are trapped in the worst climate crises happening this year, not to mention the conflicts between rival groups in the area most affected in the world by climate change.

Remember to be grateful this holiday season when you open your presents. Remember to be thankful and to do your part in addressing the climate crisis.


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