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A Poem and Video about What Ordinary People Think about Climate Change for World Environment Day

This poem was written by my friend Emily Hinshelwood who went on a walk down the route of a railway line called the Heart of Wales which runs about 120 miles from Shrewsbury down to Swansea in the UK. Along the way she spoke to the people she met on the street, aged from 8 to 80 years old, asking them their thoughts on climate change.

She told me that many of the hundreds of people she talked to had never even talked about climate change before because nobody had asked them and they had not had a conversation about it with their friends. These conversations formed the basis of her poem. She asked everyone she met three questions:

  1. What images come to mind when you think of climate change?
  2. How often does climate change come up in your conversations?
  3. Is there anything you (personally) can do to limit the effects of climate change?

According to Emily "Virtually everyone expressed worry at some level about it. To me that is scary: people worrying and not talking about their worries. So my intention was just to begin those conversations with every person I met as I walked through Wales and I was amazed at how well people responded".

This short film was then commissioned by the Climate Change Commission for Wales as a visual backdrop to accompany Emily's poem, incorporating everyday images and facts about how any individual can do their part to affect climate change. 

Dr Lorraine Whitmarsh from the Climate Change Commission said: "The poem powerfully captures the public's experiences of changing weather patterns, their concerns about human destruction of the natural environment, and their sense of frustration about how hard it seems to be to tackle climate change. The messages in the video highlight that there is plenty that we as individuals and a nation can do - and are already doing - to tackle climate change; and that collectively these are starting to make a big impact".

Why not ask the people in your neighborhood - the silent majority who have never been asked - what they think about climate change? Their answers might surprise you. Here is Emily's poem in text form.