Fulbright National Geographic Storyteller
I am a journalist, storyteller and photographer sharing stories about the community-level impacts and adaptations to climate change around the world. I focus on solutions-oriented stories and innovations that communities in the developing world are using to adapt to the impacts of climate change. I also cover climate science and have been fortunate to interview some of the world's leading climate scientists and researchers, like Wally Broecker and Richard Alley. Understanding the science is essential to explaining why these changes are happening around the world.
Spending months living with families in Kiribati and Fiji opened my eyes to the direct impacts and adaptations to climate change, but also the dilemmas facing developing countries, who often have contributed almost nothing to global carbon emissions, yet are dealing with a majority of the consequences.
In many of the villages I visited, climate change is compounding existing challenges to meet peoples' basic needs. Intense storms, cyclones, extreme droughts, and sea level rise affect peoples' abilities to maintain their livelihoods.
Additionally, the legacy of colonialism is still affecting communities like the Banabans, who, after decades of British Phosphate mining and their own forced displacement, are still living in houses filled with asbestos that the British left behind.
And in Canada, the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline would cut through unceded indigenous territory, destroying the ecosystems and food sources these communities have depended on for centuries.
Farmers in India are already experiencing severe droughts and unusual rainfall patterns. In Puerto Rico, communities are dealing with regular flooding from sea level rise. Many communities have already built up their houses onto stilts or evacuated their homes. Indigenous communities in Canada have been fighting oil companies to protect their lands from further destruction.
There are small-scale innovations, social enterprises, and community organizations founded by members of these communities that are counteracting and resisting the destruction caused by fossil fuels. Sharing stories of the impacts and adaptations to climate change is essential to raise awareness, record the ethnographic history of these changes, and spark discussion and change.
Unusual rainfall patterns make it harder for women to dry the leaves needed to make thatched roofing and mats in the outer islands of Kiribati. Image by Janice Cantieri.
Subsistence fishing communities in Kiribati. Climate change is making it harder for these communities to grow crops that supplement their diets. Image by Janice Cantieri.
Tiny houses are a trendy way to live minimally and downsize—but for a First Nations community in British Columbia, they’re an act of resistance. Since the fall, indigenous women of the Secwepemc Nation—calling themselves the Tiny House Warriors—have been constructing tiny houses that they plan to strategically place in the pathway of the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Read more here.
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. Image by Janice Cantieri.
Most of my work has been done with an ethnographic approach--living with families in villages, getting to know people on a deeper level and learning about their culture. My goal with storytelling is to increase awareness of the impacts of our actions on other communities around the world that we are often disconnected from. I do my best to avoid contributing to white-savior or colonial narratives. I hope that the work I do stays as true to the local narrative as possible, though I am aware that as a privileged foreigner, my presence in a community affects the stories I might hear. A community's story is best told by a member of that community, but I think there is value in sharing cross-culturally because it can spark discussion and interaction between different communities in different parts of the world.